Microsoft to give startups a free flight to the cloud

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Microsoft is set to give a select group of early stage startups free access to its cloud offering.

Under the initiative, which is part of its global BizSpark Plus accelerator programme, the software giant says it will be giving away US$60 000 of free software to South African startups over 10 years.

According to Clifford de Wit, developer and platform lead at Microsoft SA, the initiative is aimed at building a vibrant local software development community in South Africa:

“We really want to give small software developers the incentive they need to not only develop local software, but also the business savvy they need to take their software to market. Ultimately, we’d like to see South Africa becoming an exporter, rather than an importer, of intellectual property!”

Microsoft says that the BizSpark Programme, “provides high-potential startups with additional offers, products and services from Microsoft”. It claims that the offers will be “made available to leading local startups by invitation in the coming months”.

The first of these offers will be Windows Azure for BizSpark Plus, which helps cover a startup’s cloud computing costs. Windows Azure is fairly basic cloud-computing platform for hosting applications and creating web applications and services.

De Wit claims that by providing access to Microsoft Technology, the company hopes to “help startups grow their businesses”. He says that by offsetting costs that would be spent in areas like cloud computing, small businesses can their spend time and money elsewhere.

“What this means is these smaller businesses can focus on solving their business challenges, learning from their users, hiring more developers, investing in marketing and promoting their businesses or finding new customers,” said De Wit.

Sounds cool, but it also means that the companies are more likely to find themselves in a Microsoft-exclusive ecosystem for the duration of the offer.

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