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Top frequently asked questions

Who is eligible for BizSpark?

Eligible startups must be:
  1. 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.
  2. Privately held
  3. In business for less than 5 years[1], and
  4. 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.

We receive thousands of applications from around the world every month. However, we are committed to reviewing and validating the information you provide us within a week. To expedite, enter as much information as possible and email to BizSpark support.

How do we add new members to our account?

Each Primary Account (PA) holder can add up to 4 members to their company account. Once the PA logs into the account, they can go to manage and then, manage members to add more members.

NOTE: Each invite counts against the membership limit. If the member does not accept the invite or they are removed from the account for whatever reason, then that will still cost the account a membership slot. 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 as to why you need the member increase.

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

BizSpark startups that complete the graduation process 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.

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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 you 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?

The Microsoft BizSpark program is based on the belief that startup success is our success. Microsoft is committed to help 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:
  1. 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.
  2. Privately held
  3. In business for less than 5 years[1], and
  4. 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 we join BizSpark if we develop software and are in 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 a cost associated to joining BizSpark?

No. There is no cost associated with this program.

How long can Startups participate in BizSpark?

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.

We receive thousands of applications from around the world every month. However, we are committed to reviewing and validating the information you provide us within a week. To expedite, enter as much information as possible and email to BizSpark support.

How do I join BizSpark?

  • To enroll in the program, a startup may apply via sponsorship by designated BizSpark Network Partners or apply directly to Microsoft.
  • To start, click Join now. NOTE: You must be signed in to your Microsoft account (formerly Windows Live ID). If not, the system will prompt you to do so.
  • 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.
  • Next, enter information about the startup.
  • Once you complete, the application will be reviewed within the week. If you qualify, you’ll receive a welcome e-mail 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 can also use it to sign in to other Microsoft services, including Xbox LIVE, Zune, and Office Live.

How do I change my Microsoft account?

First, add the new member who will be the primary contact.

Go to Microsoft.com/BizSpark and log in with the old Microsoft account (for example) i_marinov@applss.com

  • Click manage (at top left of page)
  • Click manage members in left side navigation pane
  • Add the new member (for example, John Doe)
  • John Doe member will receive an email invitation, and should register with the new Microsoft account office@reptor.eu
Then, replace the primary member with the new member:
  • Go to Microsoft.com/BizSpark and log in with the old Microsoft account (for example) i_marinov@applss.com
  • Click manage (at top left of page)
  • Click manage members in left side navigation pane
  • Click Change Primary Contact just under the current Contact name
  • Select John Doe (for example) from the pull-down list

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

Login as the Primary Account holder and make the necessary switch to another member on your account through the manage members. 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?

Each Primary Account (PA) holder can add up to 4 members to their company account. Once the PA logs into the account, they can go to manage and then, manage members to add more members.

NOTE: Each invite counts against the membership limit. If the member does not accept the invite or they are removed from the account for whatever reason, then that will still cost the account a membership slot. 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 as to why you need the member increase.

What are the steps for activating a new member, if already added but cannot activate new subscription?

  • Primary must remove new member from the BizSpark account
  • Member has to log out of Microsoft account and delete all cookies
  • Primary must add new member to the BizSpark account
  • New member enrolls into the BizSpark account via the link from the invite email
  • New member goes to his Microsoft Developer Network account and activated the new Microsoft Developer Network subscription using the Subscriber ID provided via BizSpark.

How do I gain access rights to my software?

Go to 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.

What kind of technical support is available under the program?

Each startup receives four technical support incidents, managed by Microsoft. Once you connect with Microsoft Developer Network support, please provide them your BizSpark Subscriber ID. They will provide this service without a charge. 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. Enrollment is per startup. However, each employee in a startup who wants to download and use program software will need to accept the BizSpark end user license agreement and acknowledge agreement to startup agreement terms.

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.

Can an Outsourcing company use BizSpark software?

Yes. However, the outsourced company has to be working specifically on a project/code for the eligible BizSpark company. In addition, outsourced company has to be invited by the primary holder to BizSpark 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 cost 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 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 (government agency, accountants, etc.) the Microsoft Developer Network software from BizSpark is legally licensed?

You can do several things to show valid Microsoft Developer Network key and BizSpark account validity.

  1. The keys themselves are proof that you have legitimate use of the software. So, copying and pasting those to a document can show validity of the software you are using.
  2. You may use our BizSpark welcome letter, the login page, and the BizSpark agreement as proof that you are legitimate.
  3. Email us at BizSpark support if you need more proof.

Can you provide me of a few examples of BizSpark products and online services?

  • A Rich Internet Application (RIA) where most of the application’s functions are hosted (either by the Startup or managed hosting services). For example, an application to help make airline reservations.
  • An application for a desktop or mobile phone. For example, a game.
  • A combination of a) and b) above, where local function is complemented by a hosted component. For example, an application that helps a user select a local restaurant which uses a GPS to locate the user and a hosted service to locate nearby restaurants.

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 this 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?

For production: 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 2012 Configuration Manager
  • System Center 2012 VM Manager
  • System Center 2012 Datacenter with Service • Pack 1
  • System Center 2012 R2 Preview Operations Manager
  • System Center VM Manager 2007
  • System Center Essentials 2007 & 2010
  • System Center Operations Manager 2007 & 2012
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 2012 Enterprise Core Edition
  • Windows Server Web 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard and Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008 Standard and Enterprise without Hyper-V
  • BizTalk Server 2009 (2010 and 2013) R2 Branch, Standard, and Enterprise Editions
  • SharePoint Server 2010 and 2013
  • Dynamics CRM 4.0 Enterprise

Why can’t I find any of the stand-alone Office Products?

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. On August 15th, 2012, we had two major software releases, Windows 8 released to manufacturing (RTM) and Visual Studio 2012. Both are available right now through your BizSpark subscription. Just login with your Microsoft Account and go to Download Microsoft Software (MSDN) on your BizSpark main account page.

Hosting
What is a Hosting Partner?

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

How do Hosting Partners work together with startups?

Hosting Partners will obtain the Microsoft server products they use to provide hosting services to startups directly from Microsoft under their Service Provider License Agreement with Microsoft, and must agree to BizSpark terms and conditions for Hosting Partners.

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

BizSpark Startups who wish to use a Hosting Partner to host their "software as a service" application select a Hosting Partner. Startups and Hosting Partners then work directly with each other to establish their hosting services relationship.

What kind of hosting resources are available for startups as part of BizSpark?

A BizSpark startup may choose to host with any of our Hosting BizSpark network partner, host themselves, or sign up for our limited Azure offer. Startup may not host the Licensed Products in any fashion other than self-host or using a Hosting Partner (e.g., hosting the licensed products on site at a customer’s location is prohibited).

Do we have to select a hoster when we apply for BizSpark?

No. However, you may choose to apply via an approved BizSpark Hoster Network Partner (choose one while applying to the program). Once you are enrolled into the program, the hoster will be able to support you immediately.

What are some benefits of working with a Hosting Partner?

BizSpark Hosting Partners are designated Network Partners who can provide hosting services for software as a service solutions developed by BizSpark Startups. Startups that intend to deploy a product on the Internet within 12 months of enrollment are encouraged to engage a Hosting Partner to assist them in hosting their application on the internet. Hosting Partners can offer a wide range of unmanaged to fully managed solutions.

If the startup is still in product development, it may be most cost-effective to engage a Hosting 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.

Many Hosting 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. A Hosting Partner may operate in specific geographies, and may have special qualifications such as enhanced security certifications. It is important for the startup to choose a hosting partner that meets their specific needs.

To learn more about hosters or to designate who will be your hosting partner, please click through the link from your Startup account home page to the Manage Hoster Relationship page.

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

The Microsoft Azure platform makes it easy for startups to get a production ready solution up and running quickly so you can focus on building your business. Microsoft Azure offers a simple, comprehensive, and powerful platform for the creation of web applications and services. Microsoft Azure enables start-ups to focus on their business logic, as opposed to operational hurdles, in creating compelling products

To help you "get into the cloud", BizSpark subscribers are eligible for the entire term of their BizSpark membership for a US$150 monthly amount of cloud computing resources through Microsoft Developer Network subscription benefits as described below at no additional charge from the Microsoft Azure Platform. See the details of the offer BizSpark Azure.

What happens to my hosting services after graduating from BizSpark?

Hosting with one of our partners is a benefit provided to the startup for your convenience. Once you exit the BizSpark program, you will be responsible for any additional service that the hoster may incur. Please review the hosting benefit package with your specific 3rd party hoster to ensure smooth transition from BizSpark.

Can hosters use BizSpark licenses for servers?

No, not directly. A BizSpark startup will have to validate their subscription to the hoster before a hoster can host the licenses. If a startup applied to BizSpark through an approved BizSpark hoster, this validation process is seamless.

If we choose to go with the company that is not in your list of hosting partners, do we need to pay for software?

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

Do you recommend a specific hoster for the BizSpark program?

Unfortunately, we cannot recommend a specific hoster. Many hosters may offer discounted or packaged benefits throughout the year to BizSpark startups. Please check our network partner hosters and review their benefits packages carefully prior to signing up.

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

BizSpark startups that complete the graduation process 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 graduates that complete the graduation process, but do not renew their Visual Studio with Microsoft Developer Network subscription have a perpetual license to use Visual Studio Ultimate 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.

How can I use my BizSpark software, including Visual Studio with MSDN subscription, after graduation?

If you have been to the BizSpark site and completed the graduation process, BizSpark will provide your organization with a license grant for any production licenses for your software as a service solution and Visual Studio with Microsoft Developer Network subscriptions you 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 process, 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. If you wish to continue using any of the Microsoft software provided or accessed from the BizSpark program and tools, you will need to get licenses through a 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 the 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. Microsoft sets pricing to the BizSpark reseller or the BizSpark reseller’s distribution partner, but Microsoft does not set your final pricing. You may find estimated reseller prices for Microsoft software licenses using the Microsoft License Advisor.

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 account page.

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?

Once you login to your BizSpark Network Partner, click My BizSpark.

Then go to Invite Startup

Generate a link and forward to the startup to sign up. Once the startup signs us 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 advisors, Network Partners, specialize in promoting and supporting startups provide through programs, business mentoring, networking, financial assistance, peer connections, and other resources that drive startup success.

BizSpark Plus and Microsoft Azure for BizSpark Plus Offer
What is the Microsoft Azure for BizSpark Plus Offer?

The Microsoft Azure for BizSpark Plus Offer helps cover a startup’s cloud computing costs by providing a US $5K monthly credit on Microsoft Azure for 12 months. Through this offer, every dollar a startup saves 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 Microsoft Azure for BizSpark Plus Offer?

The Microsoft Azure for BizSpark Plus Offer is available to startups who are members or alumni of an Accelerator program who are BizSpark Plus Partners.

How does an Accelerator or Incubator qualify to give the Microsoft Azure for BizSpark Plus Offer 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. Accelerators and Incubators can contact bzsplus@microsoft.com to learn how to become a BizSpark Plus Partner and make the Microsoft Azure for BizSpark Plus Offer available to startups in their program.

What are the eligibility criteria for the Microsoft Azure for BizSpark Plus Offer?

The startup must be:

  • 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 the BizSpark program to get the Microsoft Azure for BizSpark Plus Offer.

How does a startup get the Microsoft Azure for BizSpark Plus Offer?

Startups who are members or alumni of an Accelerator program can contact their Accelerator to get a nomination for the offer. Other startups who are interested in joining an Accelerator program can search the BizSpark map to find a list of BizSpark Plus Partners.

Need BizSpark program information?

Contact BizSpark support

Need Developer Network (MSDN) subscription assistance?

Contact MSDN