Cool Tools 11: Microsoft BizSpark

This “Cool Tool” is yet another one of those that won’t directly help you with the Plumtree / ALUI / WebCenter portal, but is more of a collection of tools that will help out my fellow consulting colleagues, entrepreneurs, and hobbyists by offering access to a huge library of “Cool Tools”: every single Microsoft product ever created through Microsoft’s MSDN:

The “Cool Tool” is the Microsoft’s BizSpark program.  Started in 2008, BizSpark is Microsoft’s idea to incubate the startup community developing software around its own products.  It’s a great concept, although as a startup and mostly Microsoft shop myself, I honestly haven’t leveraged it as a way to “get my company name out there”, which is how the program is positioned.  Instead, as a consultant, I use it as a way to get almost-free ($100 or so) access to Microsoft’s MSDN program – which can cost in the thousands – for fully licensed versions of Microsoft’s products for some production applications I use (like Office 2010), and mostly test applications (like Excel 2003 to test the Plumtree Excel Portlets).

I realize most of my readers don’t meet the criteria for this program, but there are a couple of my consulting peers – and clients with “side businesses” – who could greatly benefit from this incredibly valuable program.  Just go to if you meet the following criteria and sign up!

  • Developing Software
  • Privately held
  • Less than three years old
  • Making less than $1M annually

As a final note, the BizSpark Team is wildly helpful and personal; when I was having problems logging into the site and submitted a request via email, I wasn’t hopeful for a response from the “giant conglomerate” of Microsoft.  Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to end up on a phone call with a real person on a LiveMeeting call showing her exactly what my problem was, and she fixed it within 10 minutes!

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