IT start-ups – Open Source software or Microsoft stack?

You are a software developer who wants to create their own start-up or an entrepreneur who has an idea for an IT related product. The first question on your mind will be …

Where do I start ?

Open source is cheap so clearly that’s what I need when I can’t afford to pay anything in the beginning. Right ? You would never consider an established vendor because let’s face it, software isn’t cheap.

I have seen this type of discussion over and over and the same stereotypes repeated over and over. Open source is the king, it’s free, strong community, don’t get locked into Microsoft stuff. Microsoft big and bad, Open source good !

So, let’s see if we can bust that myth, shall we ?

What we need in the beginning is a little bit of help, obviously money is going to be tight, however you must have an idea for a product otherwise you wouldn’t consider starting your own business right?

What could your development stack be ?

Option 1

php / ruby / mysql / anything else free and Open Source.

Option 2

Microsoft stack

Ok, I admit i might be a little bit on the biased side because I think Visual Studio is the best and most productive IDE there is. Can you get it for free ? Yeah, up to a few months ago you had the Express editions which had some limitations. Recently Microsoft came up with the idea of Visual Studio Community Edition which is effectively a free professional edition for small start-ups, however this is far from the only option available.

But, and this is what I encourage you to do, there is a much better option available and that is …. ta da … drum roll …. BizSpark

Chances are most of us have heard of it but how many really use it or even tried to get it?

So let’s see what BizSpark gives us.

Free Software and Azure credits

5 free MSDN licenses which include a lot of software – Visual Studio Ultimate, Office, Visio, several Windows OS versions ( including Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 8.1 pro ) and much more. In addition to this, each MSDN account comes with $150 or £95 worth of Azure credits per month. All this for three full years.

Let’s try and put a value on this offering:

the Azure credits alone are worth $750 x 36 = $ 27.000.

Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN – that’s about £13.482 and 5 of these are almost £70.000 or $107.000

Up to this point we have almost $135.000. Add the rest of the software and you’ll probably end up over $150.000. You will also get any new versions that Microsoft releases during those three years.

Ok, you showed me the numbers but who can actually get all that?

Well, the rules are pretty simple, you need to be a start-up no older than 5 years, build a product and have your own website. That’s pretty much it !

Any business which satisfies these three rules can get BizSpark. You have three years to make your idea a success and if you can’t then no harm done, at least you tried it and didn’t have to sell your house you cover the cost of the software. Once the three years are up you can decide what to do after that.

How long does it take to get it ?

Microsoft says about 5 working days, it took a bit more for me, but I was doing it around Christmas time so maybe not many of them were around. All in all, it took me about 3 weeks to get approved and all I had to do was to register for BizSpark and provide the little information they required.


For an IT start-up, BizSpark is tremendous value and I encourage you to check it out :

All this information is freely available and this is why I am surprised to hear the stereotypes that creating a start-up is hard and expensive and your only chance is Open Source software and don’t even dare to go near the Microsoft stack.

Hopefully this and a little bit of your own research will prove that actually this couldn’t be further from the truth and the best offer in town right now comes from Microsoft in the form of the BizSpark program.

Disclaimer : I do not work for Microsoft and they did not encourage me to write this article.

I do have BizSpark for my own start-up and if you need some help or ideas how to start make your idea a reality then I am more than happy to assist you.

Also, if you are aware of anything else that could be of benefit to an IT based start-up, please mention it in the comments so others can see and benefit from it too.

Time to build some great products using great software tools!

This article was published on LinkedIn as well :


About eidand

Senior Dot Net developer specialised in C# / Sql Server / Mvc / Wcf
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