For long Microsoft has unsuccessfully tried to woo the web developer community into using their technologies for web development. In the era of the dot-com, open source rules and it is LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQP, PHP/Perl/Python) that the web developers are after. Perhaps this is a realization a tad too late as Microsoft has announced the launch of WebsiteSpark, an initiative to woo the web developers into the Microsoft fold.
The offer is not enticing enough. According to the announcement on the Microsoft website, the new WebsiteSpark program offers businesses or individuals can claim free access to the full suite of Microsoft applications like Visual Studio 2008, Expression Studio, Expression Web, Windows Web Server, SQL server and DotNetPanel. The free license will be valid for 3 years for individuals or businesses who are primarily into development of web applications for themselves or for others with team size not more than 10.
I have a feeling that Microsoft has not studied their market well enough. Unlike say the Operating Systems market, the web development community is not desperate to use the Microsoft’s products. The LAMP technology is a fully scalable, tried and tested platform which has helped build some of the biggest web applications. Facebook, Wikipedia, WordPress are just some of the names I can recall that run on the LAMP architecture. Every startup company dreams of being a Facebook or a Google someday and with LAMP being a free and highly scalable architecture, Microsoft’s three year free license offer does not hold much ground. WebsiteSpark requires that companies that sign up to their free license program have to upgrade to paid services if they have grown big (in employee numbers) after three years.
My point is that a free license is not a compelling alternative to an established open source behemoth. Oracle had earlier announced a similar foray into web development with the launch of OraTweet, an Oracle Application Express web development platform enabled clone of Twitter. Sun acquired MySql last year before being acquiredthemselves. Most of these strategies seem to be more of half hearted measures rather than posing as an aggressive competitor to Open Source.