by Peter Galli on November 04, 2008 03:49pm

The extremely popular and well attended Web 2.0 Summit starts in San Francisco today, where Microsoft officially launched its global BizSpark program, designed to help startups grow into successful businesses through software support, a vibrant global ecosystem that delivers superior business advantage, and opportunities for visibility through a new online database, the BizSparkDB.

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.

Under the program, startups will receive speedy, easy access to Microsoft's current full-featured development tools, platform technologies, and production licenses of server products. They can use these immediately to develop and bring innovative and interoperable solutions to market with no upfront costs and minimal requirements.

Startups will also receive professional support from Microsoft and BizSpark Network Partners around the world. Network Partners are incubators, investors, advisors, government agencies and hosters who are vested in software-fueled innovation and entrepreneurship.

BizSpark members will also be informed about those programs of particular interest to startups, including the Microsoft Web Platform Installer and Microsoft Web Application Installer.

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.

Azure is a new computing platform that will help developers build the next generation of applications, spanning all the way from the cloud to the enterprise datacenter, while delivering new experiences across the PC, Web and phone.

They will also get access to the community technical preview of the Live Framework, a simple, open and interoperable framework for developers to access and consume Live Services, a set of building blocks within the Azure Services Platform for handling user data and application resources, which includes Live Mesh technologies for synchronizing users' data and extending Web applications across multiple devices. 

The BizSpark program is a really positive move, since most startups pretty much always needs help, even in the best of times. In times of economic hardship, they need all the help they can get, so they can deliver on their promise of great software innovation and job creation. Microsoft is doing its part to make sure that happens.