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Top frequently asked questions

Who is eligible for BizSpark?

Eligible startups must be:
  • Actively engaged in development of a software-based product or service that will form a core piece of its current or intended business*. To meet this requirement the software must:
    • Add significant and primary functionality to the integrated Microsoft software.
    • Be owned, not licensed by the Startup.
  • Privately held
  • In business for less than 5 years[1], and
  • Bringing in less than US$1 million in annual revenue[2]

Microsoft may permit individual developers or others and/or separate technology entities who may not meet the standard eligibility requirements to join BizSpark from time to time.

[1] Startups who are actively engaged in software development but have not yet completed the formalities of establishing a business.
[2] This requirement has been adjusted to add local variances calibrated to local economic conditions in the startup’s place of business, below. If a startup's place of business is not listed below, then the revenue limit is US$1 million. US$750,000 China; US$500,000 Korea, Malaysia, Poland, Russia, Spain, Ukraine; US$250,000 Egypt, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam

*Not eligible for BizSpark
  • If you are developing dashboards, HTML editors, utilities, website, and similar technologies that are not considered primary service or application.
  • If you are a consultant.

How long does it take to review my application? I thought it was an immediate enrollment.

Though we receive thousands of applications from around the world every month, we are committed to reviewing and validating the information you provide us within a week.

To expedite processing, please include in your application a clear description of your company's software development projects, and complete as many optional fields as possible. For additional questions, email BizSpark support.

How do we add new members to our account?

The primary account holder can add up to 4 members (including deleted members and those who did not accept invitations). Once logged into the BizSpark account, go to manage and then, manage members to add more members.

If you are at your member cap, please contact BizSpark support to apply for a member increase. We need a few days to validate your account information, and in some cases, we will set up a brief phone call to discuss why you need the member increase.

How long do Startups have to take advantage of the graduation offer?

Startups that complete the graduation survey at the BizSpark portal may continue to access the Microsoft Developer Network and download new media until their graduation date. Media for other licenses may be purchased or downloaded from Microsoft or through development and test subscriptions such as MSDN for Visual Studio and TechNet. Media for older software versions may not be available.

All frequently asked questions by topic

About BizSpark
What is BizSpark?

Microsoft BizSpark is a global program that helps software startups succeed by giving them access to Microsoft software development tools, connecting them with key industry players, including investors, and providing marketing visibility to help entrepreneurs starting a business.

Why is Microsoft offering this program?

Microsoft believes that by helping startups succeed, we’re helping to build a valued long-term partnership. Together we can build a more vibrant global software economy.

BizSpark helps startups by providing access to Microsoft software when they most need it and can least afford it, and by supporting the network of organizations—startup incubators, investors, advisors, government agencies—that are equally involved and invested in software-fueled innovation and entrepreneurship.

Why should I join BizSpark as a startup?

BizSpark is committed to helping technology startups realize their goals on their own terms and in the shortest amount of time. Through BizSpark, Microsoft's goals are to:

  • Help young and innovative software companies gain valuable experience and expertise in Microsoft technologies, with no upfront costs.
  • Help startups establish connections with local and global startup ecosystems - VCs, angels, incubators, entrepreneur associations, etc.
  • Stimulate vibrant local software ecosystems and promote innovation and interoperability.
  • Support the broadest possible startup audience in a way that complements their values and the organizations that support them.

Who is eligible for BizSpark?

Eligible startups must be:
  • Actively engaged in development of a software-based product or service that will form a core piece of its current or intended business*. To meet this requirement the software must:
    • Add significant and primary functionality to the integrated Microsoft software.
    • Be owned, not licensed by the Startup.
  • Privately held
  • In business for less than 5 years[1], and
  • Bringing in less than US$1 million in annual revenue[2]

Microsoft may permit individual developers or others and/or separate technology entities who may not meet the standard eligibility requirements to join BizSpark from time to time.

[1] Startups who are actively engaged in software development but have not yet completed the formalities of establishing a business.
[2] This requirement has been adjusted to add local variances calibrated to local economic conditions in the startup’s place of business, below. If a startup's place of business is not listed below, then the revenue limit is US$1 million. US$750,000 China; US$500,000 Korea, Malaysia, Poland, Russia, Spain, Ukraine; US$250,000 Egypt, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam

*Not eligible for BizSpark
  • If you are developing dashboards, HTML editors, utilities, website, and similar technologies that are not considered primary service or application.
  • If you are a consultant.

Does my company qualify for BizSpark?

If your company is in the primary business of developing software or application solutions for the public, is fewer than five years old, is privately owned and brings in fewer than US$1 million annually, you probably qualify. Please see the eligibility criteria for complete details.

Can my company join BizSpark if we do both software development and IT services?

Yes. However, you have to provide a clear description of your software development and how that forms a core part of your business. If the core business is focused on IT service or computer repair, then you won’t qualify.

Is there any cost associated with joining the BizSpark program?

There is no cost associated with the base program. Additionally, BizSpark members will be eligible for special pricing for products and services not included in the program.

How long can Startups participate in BizSpark? What happens afterward?

Startups can participate in the program for three years (renewed annually), unless they go public, are acquired by a company that does not itself qualify for BizSpark, or fail to abide by the program’s terms and conditions.

How long does it take to review my application? I thought it was an immediate enrollment.

Though we receive thousands of applications from around the world every month, we are committed to reviewing and validating the information you provide us within a week.

To expedite processing, please include in your application a clear description of your company's software development projects, and complete as many optional fields as possible. For additional questions, email BizSpark support.

How do I join BizSpark?

To enroll in the program, a startup may apply directly to Microsoft, or be nominated by a designated BizSpark Network Partner. The process takes only 5 steps:

  • If you have not signed up for a Microsoft account, do so using the email address you wish to use for your BizSpark account.
  • To start your BizSpark application, go to the BizSpark Registration Page. You must be signed in to your Microsoft account; if not, the system will prompt you to do so.
  • You will have to choose a language for your BizSpark email communication (this can be changed later).
  • Next, enter information about the startup (including your invitation number, if applicable). This will be reviewed to determine eligibility, so please be as complete and accurate as possible.
  • Review and accept the BizSpark Startup Agreement and the BizSpark Program End User License Agreement ("EULA"). Acceptance of the Startup Agreement and EULA are required to continue the enrollment process.

Once you complete these steps, the application will be reviewed within the week. If you qualify, you’ll receive a welcome email that includes a unique subscription ID to activate the Microsoft software download benefits delivered via the Microsoft Developer Network.

Account Management
What is a Microsoft account?

Your Microsoft account is the email address you use, along with your password, to sign in to any Windows Live program or service, such as Outlook, Hotmail, Messenger, or SkyDrive. You may set up a Microsoft account using any email address belonging to you, including your company email.

How do I change my Microsoft account?

To reassign your BizSpark administrator privileges, you will first need to add a user to your BizSpark account. Please keep in mind your BizSpark account is limited; all users count toward this limit, even if they are later removed.

  • Go to the Microsoft.com/BizSpark portal and log in with the Microsoft account assigned to the current administrator.
  • Navigate to the My BizSpark tab
  • Click the Manage link at the right of the page
  • Click manage members tab
  • Add the new member (for example, John Doe)
  • The new member will receive an email invitation, and will have to accept the BizSpark Terms of Service and EULA to proceed.
Once the invitation has been accepted and the new user has received their confirmation of enrollment:
  • Go to the Microsoft.com/BizSpark portal and log in with the Microsoft account assigned to the current administrator.
  • Navigate to the My BizSpark tab
  • Click the Manage link at the right of the page
  • Click manage members tab
  • Click Change Primary Contact, above the list of team members
  • Select the new administrator from the list.

How do we change the Primary Account holder on the account?

The Primary Account Holder can switch this designation to other accounts using the manage members tab of the BizSpark portal. If you are unable to locate the Primary Account holder or they have left the company, please contact BizSpark support to make the necessary changes.

How do we add new members to our account?

The primary account holder can add up to 4 members (including deleted members and those who did not accept invitations). Once logged into the BizSpark account, go to manage and then, manage members to add more members.

If you are at your member cap, please contact BizSpark support to apply for a member increase. We need a few days to validate your account information, and in some cases, we will set up a brief phone call to discuss why you need the member increase.

We added a new member, but they cannot activate their MSDN subscription. What do we do?

There may have been an issue with your invitation; you will need to remove the member and add them again.

  • The primary account holder (PA) must remove new member from the BizSpark account
  • The new member has to log out of Microsoft account and delete all cookies
  • PA will re-add new member to the BizSpark account
  • New member will re-enroll to the BizSpark account via the link from the invite email
  • New member will then go to their Microsoft Developer Network account and activate their subscription using the MSDN Subscriber ID provided via BizSpark.

How do I gain access to my software?

Go to the Microsoft Developer Network site for the most up to date listing of our software products; to access any of this software, please ensure you are signed into your BizSpark account with the appropriate Microsoft Account.

If you are having trouble accessing your MSDN subscription, try logging out of all Microsoft services (including email and MSDN), clearing your browser cache and logging in again.

What kind of technical support is available under the program?

Each startup receives four technical support incidents, managed by Microsoft. When contacting Microsoft Developer support for assistance, please provide them your BizSpark Subscriber ID. In addition, you have the opportunity to access technical resources, product training and business tools for your startup.

Does every individual in a startup have to enroll in BizSpark in order to download and use program software?

No, only one BizSpark account is permitted per startup; additional users will need to be invited to join the company (parent) account via a user (child) account. Each employee who wants to download and use program software will need to be invited by the Primary Account Holder as a user, and accept the BizSpark end user license agreement and startup agreement terms.

Please note that the number of users is limited, and that each invitation counts as a user whether or not it is accepted or later deleted. Please contact BizSpark support with a business justification to request an increase.

Business, Products, and Software
Is BizSpark available to Startups that also use open source technologies?

Yes. BizSpark is available to any startup that meets the program eligibility requirements:

  • Actively engaged in development of a software-based product or service that will form a core piece of its current or intended business*. To meet this requirement the software must:
    • Add significant and primary functionality to the integrated Microsoft software.
    • Be owned, not licensed by the Startup.
  • Privately held
  • In business for less than 5 years[1], and
  • Bringing in less than US$1 million in annual revenue[2]

Microsoft may permit individual developers or others and/or separate technology entities who may not meet the standard eligibility requirements to join BizSpark from time to time.

[1] Startups who are actively engaged in software development but have not yet completed the formalities of establishing a business.
[2] This requirement has been adjusted to add local variances calibrated to local economic conditions in the startup’s place of business, below. If a startup's place of business is not listed below, then the revenue limit is US$1 million. US$750,000 China; US$500,000 Korea, Malaysia, Poland, Russia, Spain, Ukraine; US$250,000 Egypt, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam

*Not eligible for BizSpark
  • If you are developing dashboards, HTML editors, utilities, website, and similar technologies that are not considered primary service or application.
  • If you are a consultant.

Can an outsourcing company use BizSpark software?

Yes, if the outsourced company is working specifically on a project/code for, and as an account member of, an eligible BizSpark company. The outsourced employee(s) must be invited by the primary account holder of a BizSpark startup as a member (developer) and sign the program agreement and EULA. Once the project/coding is developed and tested, the primary account holder should delete the outsourced developer from their subscription.

What is the monetary value of the software I am using (for tax or business forecasts)?

You may do a quick search for the cost of the license on our Microsoft site or use our Microsoft License Advisor to research the program and pricing per products. You will be able to generate a quote that you may share with your accountant, colleagues, or resellers.

How do I prove (e.g., government agency, accountants, etc.) the Microsoft Developer Network software from BizSpark is legally licensed?

The keys themselves are proof that you have legitimate use of the software licenses. Copying and pasting those to a document can show validity of the software you are using. If this is a security concern for your company, your company may also use our BizSpark welcome letter, the login page, and the BizSpark agreement as proof that your licenses are legitimate.

Please email BizSpark support if you require additional documentation.

What products do I have access to for design, dev/test, and demo?

BizSpark members receive access to Not-For-Resale software versions equivalent to those included in the Visual Studio Ultimate with Microsoft Developer Network subscription. BizSpark software is for design, development, test, and demo only. For the most up to date listing of these products click products by benefit level and then click Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN tab for a representative list of products.

What products do I have access to for production and hosting?

To find the most recent information, click products by benefit level and choose the BizSpark tab at the bottom of the sheet.

For IT operations servers

To help manage software in production and deployment of startup’s new “software as a service” offer to be delivered to customers over the Internet.

  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • System Center VM Manager (current)
  • System Center Datacenter with Service Pack 1 (current)
  • System Center R2 Preview Operations Manager (current)
  • System Center Essentials (current)
  • System Center Operations Manager (current)
For production and hosting servers

For production and deployment of startup’s new “software as a service” offer to be delivered to customers over the Internet.

  • SQL Server Enterprise Core Edition (current)
  • Windows Server Web R2 (current)
  • Windows Server R2 Standard and Enterprise (current)
  • Windows Server Standard and Enterprise without Hyper-V (current)
  • BizTalk Server R2 Branch, Standard, and Enterprise Editions (current)
  • SharePoint Server (current)
  • Dynamics CRM Enterprise (current)

Why can’t I find the stand-alone products I'm looking for, such as Microsoft Excel?

On July 16, 2012, Microsoft made some changes to the BizSpark program to help protect the integrity of the subscription from unsupported use. As part of this change we:

  • Removed redundant or multiple instances of products. For instance: The full Office suite will be available for download, but not standalone Office products such as Outlook, Publisher, etc.
  • Removed products that are not intended for use in an IT professional managed business environment. For instance: Windows XP Home Edition.
  • Standardized the 24-hr product key claim limit across all programs and benefit levels.

What new releases have you launched through the BizSpark program?

We are constantly updating the BizSpark program to provide startups with the latest tools to develop and test their software solution. To see the latest releases, log in to BizSpark with your Microsoft Account and go to Download Microsoft Software (MSDN) on your BizSpark main account page.

Hosting Questions
What is a Network Partner?

Network Partners are designated BizSpark Network Partners who can provide hosting services to BizSpark startups for "software as a service" solutions developed by the startups.

Microsoft Communications Sector will identify, recruit, and work with BizSpark Network Partners. If you would like to join the program as a Network Partner, please contact BizSpark support.

How do Network Partners work together with startups?

BizSpark Startups who wish to use a Network Partner to host their "software as a service" application will work directly with their chosen partner to establish their hosting services relationship. Due to their relationship with Microsoft, Network Partners are able to obtain the Microsoft server products needed by the BizSpark startup directly from Microsoft on behalf of the BizSpark member. This means that your company will have one less consideration to deal with in the deployment of your SaaS.

What kind of hosting resources are available for startups in BizSpark?

A BizSpark startup may choose to host with any of our Hosting BizSpark network partners, to host themselves, or to sign up for our limited Azure offer through select Accelerators. Per the terms of the licensing agreement, startups may host the Licensed Products only on their own premises or through a Network Partner (e.g., hosting the licensed products on site at a customer’s location is prohibited).

Do we have to select a Network Partner when we apply for BizSpark?

No, you may choose an approved Network Partner at any time during your BizSpark membership. However, if your company chooses to apply via an approved BizSpark Network Partner (choose one while applying to the program), the Network Partner will be able to support you immediately upon enrollment in the program.

What are some benefits of working with a Network Partner? Why should I choose a hosting service?

BizSpark Network Partners are designated Network Partners who can provide hosting services for software as a service solutions developed by BizSpark Startups. Network Partners can offer a wide range of unmanaged to fully managed solutions.

It is important for the startup to choose a Network Partner that meets their specific needs. For example, a Network Partner may operate in specific geographies, and may have special qualifications such as enhanced security certifications. If the startup's product is still in development, it may be most cost-effective to engage a Network Partner who offers inexpensive, unmanaged server accounts that allows a Startup to deploy one or more small servers they can configure and manage themselves. If the startup's application is headed toward production, the startup should consider a full-service hosting partnership. A full-service partner will work with the Startup to deploy and run securely at scale, and will give the startup a performance service level agreement for their application. Additionally, many Network Partners specialize in helping Startups take their application(s) to the next step of Software as a Service readiness, incorporating automated user provisioning, automated usage metering and even automated billing services if the startup needs them.

To learn more about Network Partners or to designate who will be your Network Partner, search the BizSpark map to find a list of local Network Partners.

How does my Azure Hosting service work? How do I sign up?

To help you "get into the cloud," BizSpark subscribers are eligible for a US$150 monthly Azure services credit for the entire term of their BizSpark membership. This can be accessed through Microsoft Developer Network subscription benefits at no additional charge.

Windows Azure offers a simple, comprehensive, and powerful platform for the creation of web applications and services. The Azure platform makes it easy for startups to get a production-ready solution up and running quickly so that you can focus on building your business. See the details of the offer at BizSpark Azure.

What happens to my hosting services after graduating from BizSpark?

Once you graduate from the BizSpark program, you may continue working with your BizSpark Network partner, or you may move your service to any provider you wish. In either case, your company will continue to be responsible for any charges associated with your hosting services. Please review the hosting benefit package with your specific 3rd party hosting service to ensure smooth transition from BizSpark.

Can Network Partners use BizSpark licenses for servers?

If a BizSpark startup wishes to use their BizSpark subscription with a third party hosting service, that service must be a Microsoft Network Partner. The BizSpark startup will have to validate their subscription to the hosting service before a hosting service can host the licenses. If the startup applied to BizSpark through an approved BizSpark Network Partner, this validation process is seamless.

If we choose to go with the company not in your list of Network Partners, do we need to pay for software?

Approved BizSpark Network Partners already have an agreement with Microsoft that ensures quality compliance and usage. We do not recommend using Network Partners outside of the BizSpark network. However, we do not bill you for any software/license usage.

Do you recommend a specific Network Partner for the BizSpark program?

Unfortunately, we cannot recommend a specific Network Partner. Many Network Partners may offer discounted or packaged benefits throughout the year to BizSpark startups. Please search the BizSpark map to find a list of local Network Partners and review their benefits packages carefully prior to signing up.

Graduation
How long do Startups have to take advantage of the graduation offer?

Startups that complete the graduation survey at the BizSpark portal may continue to access the Microsoft Developer Network and download new media until their graduation date. Media for other licenses may be purchased or downloaded from Microsoft or through development and test subscriptions such as MSDN for Visual Studio and TechNet. Media for older software versions may not be available.

If I do not renew, do my keys continue to work?

Yes, BizSpark enrollees that complete the graduation survey have a perpetual license to use downloads accessed through the program, according to the license grant terms. That license includes development and test rights with Microsoft Software and use of the keys provided with BizSpark Visual Studio with MSDN subscription. However, graduates will have to renew to access future upgrades.

How can I use my BizSpark software, including Visual Studio with the Microsoft Developer Network subscription, after graduation?

The products listed in your license grant will be contingent upon the users and production servers attributed to your company upon completion of the Graduation survey. Prior to completing graduation, please ensure that you have added any users who will need to be included in the licensing grant, and move servers into production.

If you have been to the BizSpark site and completed the graduation survey, BizSpark will provide your organization with a license grant for authorized production licenses of your software as a service solution, including the Visual Studio with Microsoft Developer Network subscriptions requested at graduation. You may continue using any of the software listed on the license grant according to the use rights listed on the license grant.

If you have not been to the BizSpark site and/or not completed the graduation survey, the terms of your agreement with BizSpark set forth that you will stop using any Microsoft software provided or accessed from the BizSpark program and tools as of the end of the 3-year program or upon discharge from the program, whichever occurs first. If you wish to continue using any of the Microsoft software provided or accessed from the BizSpark program and tools, you will need to purchase licenses through an authorized reseller.

Why should I renew through volume licensing?

Volume licensing of software is a cost-effective strategy to purchase licenses within a single purchasing organization. Volume licensing also provides greater choice, better control, and easier license management.

For your server licenses: You may purchase Software Assurance for the server software listed on your license grant within 90 days of your graduation date. You may purchase Software Assurance from any reseller in your country; however, the BizSpark resellers listed on your license grant are authorized to sell licenses with special graduation pricing.

How do I find out the pricing for keeping my BizSpark licenses current?

The BizSpark reseller for your area can get you pricing for Software Assurance for your server production licenses or Visual Studio with Microsoft Developer Network renewals. You may find estimated reseller prices for Microsoft software licenses using the Microsoft License Advisor.

Microsoft sets pricing to the BizSpark reseller or the BizSpark reseller's distribution partner, but Microsoft does not set your final pricing.

How do I get in touch with my local reseller?

Your BizSpark reseller information should appear on your license grant, which can be found on your BizSpark dashboard under Manage > Legal Agreements. If you are having trouble getting in touch with your reseller, please contact BizSpark reseller support.

Network Partner
What is a BizSpark Network Partner?

BizSpark Network Partners are community organizations engaged with high-potential, early stage startups. They are specifically focused on supporting software entrepreneurs and startups.

Their activities include a focus on promoting and supporting software Startups through programs, mentoring, networking, business advice, or financial and legal assistance.

If you are interested in becoming a Network Partner, please contact BizSpark support.

What role do Network Partners play in recruiting startups for enrollment in BizSpark?

Microsoft wants to create a strong partnership with the entrepreneurial community, and we expect most startups to be associated with, and therefore recruited by, BizSpark Network Partners. In situations where BizSpark Network Partner availability is limited, Microsoft may work directly with startups to enroll them.

How do I nominate startups through my Network Partner?

Log in to the BizSpark Champ Portal. At the bottom of the dashboard, click Invite Companies.

Select Create Auto-Enrollment Email on the left sidebar. Fill in the form with enrollee data to generate an email for the startup to use to register for the program. Once the startup signs up to BizSpark, they will be reviewed by a Microsoft Local Evangelist. Once they are approved by the Evangelist, the startup will appear on your BizSpark Partner Dashboard.

How much does it cost to be a Microsoft BizSpark Network Partner?

There are no costs or fees associated with being a Microsoft BizSpark Network Partner. Network Partners must simply agree to program terms and conditions.

What are a few benefits of working with a Network Partner?

BizSpark is designed to unite a global community of peers, technical resources, and entrepreneurial mentors who can effectively address the unique business development challenges that Startups face. BizSpark directly connects Startups with a community of economic and entrepreneurial development organizations, or Network Partners, who fully understand the startup environment and what it takes to go big quickly. These Network Partners specialize in promoting and supporting startups through programs, business mentoring, networking, financial assistance, peer connections, and other resources that drive startup success.

Windows Azure $60K Offer
What is the Windows Azure US$60K offer?

The Windows Azure US$60K offer helps cover a startup’s cloud computing costs by providing up to US$60K worth of Windows Azure over two years:

  • 100% of Windows Azure usage for the first year
  • 50% off Windows Azure retail for the second year
Through this offer, every dollar startups save on their cloud computing costs means more money for them to spend elsewhere for hiring developers, investing in marketing, acquiring new customers, etc.

Who qualifies for the Windows Azure US$60K offer?

The Windows Azure US$60K offer is available to startups who are:

  • A member or alumni of an Accelerator program
  • Developing software
  • Less than five years old
  • Privately held
  • Making less than US$1M annually

Startups must be a member of or join a BizSpark program to receive the Windows Azure US$60K offer.

How does an Accelerator or Incubator qualify to give the Windows Azure US$60K offer to startups in their program?

Contact BizSpark Plus to learn how to make the Windows Azure US$60K offer available to startups in their program. Most Accelerators and Incubators who specialize in identifying and supporting early-stage startup companies and have an established track record of providing high-value, high-quality support to exceptional startups can qualify.

How does a startup get the Windows Azure US$60K offer?

Startups who are members or alumni of an Accelerator program can contact their Accelerator or be nominated for the offer. Startups who are interested in joining an Accelerator program can search the BizSpark map to find a list of local Accelerators.

Need BizSpark program information?

Contact BizSpark support

Need Developer Network (MSDN) subscription assistance?

Contact MSDN Subscription Help