Microsoft seems to be feeling the heat from other SMB providers. Recently they have launched BizSpark, a discount program for startups. Now they're hoping to entice the designer/developer crowd with WebSiteSpark. The program offers access to a host of applications from Microsoft Expression and they're offering it at a major discount - just $100, including training and some support.
The software included in the deal are Visual Studio Professional, Expression Studio 2 or 3, Windows Web Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008. In addition, WebSiteSpark participants will have access to WebsiteSpark Marketplace (to find developers), Partner Solution Profiler (providing a marketplace for freelance developers) and the Web App Gallery, a community for developers to show off their apps. Eligible businesses can participate for up to three years, at the end of which the $100 is charged, and Microsoft hopes to sell you their full suite of design/development services.
There are some conditions:
- The business must provide design and development services to clients
- The business is limited to having 10 employees or less
- Businesses must join the Microsoft Partner Network (if not already members)
- To continue eligibility, the business must, "...deploy a new public and Internet-accessible website developed using Program software within 6 months from Program enrollment, and report it and other new websites through the WebsiteSpark Portal."
- Those continuing with the program must also renew their enrollment each year.
And once the three years are up, developers will no longer have access to the tools unless, of course, they decide to pay up.
For more information and full terms and conditions, visit Microsoft WebSiteSpark.
Also announced recently by Microsoft ASP.NET team (agains, aimed at SMB's) is a free AJAX content delivery network (CDN), that provides caching support for AJAX libraries (including jQuery and ASP.NET AJAX) and is billed as a competitor of Amazon's fee-based CloudFront CDN. Scripts are available on the Microsoft AJAX website. And for some detail on how to use the service, check out ScottGu's Blog.