Microsoft “Spark” Initiative

Microsoft has an interesting new initiative called WebsiteSpark that features a 7,122-word legal agreement.

The attraction of the programme for small web development and design companies is obvious, starting with free licenses for development and hosting software and exposure to potential clients. As always there are catches, and some are quite amusing.

“A USD $100 Program Offering Fee is due when the Web development and design company exits the Program.”  Seriously? Microsoft is going to invoice and chase small companies around the world for a hundred bucks?

Some of other points to consider:

  • There are reporting requirements
  • The right to use the software expires after three years
  • The deal is terminated if you make an IPO or go bankrupt
  • Any disputes in China (for the purpose of this Agreement, the People’s Republic of China does not include Hong Kong S.A.R., Macao S.A.R., or Taiwan) will be settled by the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission in Beijing (CIETAC)

WebsiteSpark will certainly be helpful to startup web development shops. It’s just sad that the lawyers and bean counters get in the way.

The WebsiteSpark program joins the other two successful “Spark” programs we’ve previously launched – BizSpark for startups, and DreamSpark for students.

Coming at a time when the current economic climate is still tough, WebsiteSpark will help support developers and companies by providing the business resources, training, and software necessary for companies to get started and grow successful businesses on the Microsoft Web Platform.

Visit to learn more about the Microsoft Web Platform, as well as download and install the new Microsoft Web Platform Installer V2 we released today – which makes it really easy to quickly provision web servers and web development machines.  You can then browse and download and use open source web applications from the Windows Web Application Gallery.

Hope this helps,


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