Microsoft said on Wednesday it is giving free software to startups around the world to encourage them to develop products that span the Web, PCs and phones.
The program, called BizSpark, is expected to make it easier for Microsoft to compete against Google and other Web rivals with its nascent cloud computing strategy, which was announced last week, and also make it easier for startups to work with Microsoft.
Through BizSpark, Microsoft will offer free software development tools, technical support, marketing and discounted hosting for three years to qualified startups in more than 80 countries, said Corporate Vice President Dan'l Lewin, who designed the program.
The startups will be recommended by a network of partners Microsoft has been building: venture capitalists, university incubators, angel investors and others.
The only restrictions are that startups be private, less than 3 years old and have less than 1 million dollars in revenue.
Lewin said Microsoft is "completely committed" to making its software interoperable with any other software that startups want to use and they are free to leave the program at any time.
If they make it through three years, they pay a 100-dollar fee and graduate into Microsoft's standard software licensing program, he said.
(Xinhua News Agency November 6, 2008)