Port25 is reporting that Microsoft’s new program to encourage startups to use Microsoft technology:

“BizSpark is available globally to privately held startups that are building a software-based product or service, that have been in business less than three years, and have less than $1 million in revenue.

It also provides startups with software, support and visibility early in their life cycle when those resources are most needed and least affordable. As such, Microsoft has decided that the $100 program fee will be made payable when the company leaves the program rather than upfront when joining.

These offerings make it easier for developers to bring PHP and .NET Web applications to market faster, with a streamlined download, install and configure experience, as well as design and development integration and pre-packaged open source applications that run well on the Microsoft Web Platform.

BizSpark members will also get access to the community technology preview of the Azure Services Platform, which was announced last month at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles.”

Startups accepted into the program will have access to Microsoft’s software free of charge for 3 years.  The BizSpark program understands and accepts that some startups will mix Microsoft and open source technologies.  That’s a smart move.  Also, since Azure is expected to treat (some?) open source as a first class citizen, Microsoft could address the open source usage needs of startups, without having to pass that revenue opportunity to someone else. Another smart move.

OStatic suggests that BizSpark is a direct shot at Open Source.  But hey, competition is good.  Also, as great as any technology or technology provider is, choice is always better.

It’ll be interesting to watch the BizSpark uptake.  Startups considering a pure open source stack, may reconsider.  Alternatively, the prospect of having to pay for a Microsoft license in 3 years may be too daunting for some startups.  Although, (most) successful startups eventually end up paying for open source subscriptions/support or migrate to a commercial software product.  Azure’s pricing could reduce the TCO (total cost of ownership) disparity between a full open source stack and a mixed stack on Azure.  Well, at least that should be the design goal.  Interesting times ahead.

If you had a startup, would you be signing up for BizSpark?