Microsoft Takes Shot at Amazon, Google with BizSpark Offer

Microsoft will begin offering $120,000 of free Azure cloud services to eligible startups starting on July 1, the company announced recently.

The move, which will be offered as part of Microsoft's BizSpark Plus program, is aimed at courting startup companies to the Azure platform.

"The offer expands our existing BizSpark Plus program which, in addition to open source friendly Azure, provides free software, developer tools and technical support to help startups be successful," said Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft corporate vice president and chief evangelist, in a blog post last week.

The move is a direct challenge to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the Google Cloud Platform, which, along with Microsoft, round out the top three public cloud service providers. AWS has offered the AWS Activate global program for startups since October 2013. It launched with training, support, promotional credits, a dedicated startup forum and special offers from third parties. A Self-Starter Package is available with a free usage tier, and promotional credits are offered in two plans, one of which provides up to $15,000 in credits for two years or $100,000 for one year.

Google also offers $100,000 in credits among the benefits of its Google Cloud Platform for Startups.

So, accordingly, Microsoft upped the ante to $120,000.

"We have spent a tremendous amount of time listening to better understand what startups need to be successful," Guggenheimer said. "From deeper support for open source technologies and tools on Azure to running and managing seven accelerators in seven countries, via our Microsoft Ventures programs, we're taking the feedback to heart."

For its part in the continuing cloud tussle, AWS announced updates to the AWS Activate program about 13 months ago, including a new AWS Startup Blog, a Startup Spotlight to feature stories and experiences of fledgling companies, more third-party offers, and offers from other Amazon services as part of a new Amazon Toolbox. The latter includes offerings from Amazon Payments and AWS Marketplace.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.