As I travel around Africa, I got many inquires asking me about how the windows and windows phone store could be activated once we joined BizSpark program. So, I have decided to be the spark of change and blog about it. BizSpark is a program created by Microsoft to help foster innovation and to invest in the future of the industry, by giving the startups an entry point to become a Microsoft partner and receive FREE software for 3 years.

There are a few different ways in which we help the startups on the program, both on technical and non-technical perspectives. On the technical side there are A LOT of benefits. You can pick and choose which benefits you take advantage of.

Most of these benefits are tied to an MSDN Ultimate Subscription that you receive on signing up. MSDN Subscriptions are how Microsoft provide you with the tools, platforms, and services you need to successfully develop and test your applications.

 

How do I get my MSDN Subscription and the benefits?

First thing is to be accepted on BizSpark – your startup needs to be:

  • Less than 5 years old
  • Creating software or an online solutions that will eventually be the main source of revenue for the company
  • Making less than US$1 million annual revenue
  • Privately held

If you fit that criteria and are not in the program yet, apply here! One tip: make sure you have a website, and make sure to add as much detail as possible in the Company Description field so we can review it properly.

Once you’ve been accepted, you will receive a ‘Welcome to BizSpark!’ email that tells you how to get MSDN:

  1. you sign in to your My BizSpark on the BizSpark Website and login with the same Microsoft Account that you used to signing up
  2. click on ‘Get your free software’ link, and then choose ‘Download Microsoft Software (via MSDN)’ Once the enrolment process is complete you can download software and get product keys, access Windows Azure, get Technical Support and subscribe to the MSDN Magazine. (there is a short processing period and it may take up to 6 hours before your subscription is activated)
  3. After your subscription is activated, rock up to the MSDN Subscriptions page, sign in with the same Microsoft Account you used for the BizSpark application (the little Sign In link on the top right), and you’re good to go
  4. If you click on the My Account tab: yaay! it’s all there! See the links for Software download, technical incidents, Windows and Windows phone store account, Windows Azure, discounted MSDN Magazine, and others:

Screenshot (6)

 

Microsoft Software

The MSDN Ultimate subscription provides the startups access to software downloads (over 11 terabytes of Microsoft products) for developer and testing purposes. This includes most of what you can think of: Windows 8 (and older), Windows Server 2012 (and older), Visual Studio 2012 Ultimate (and others), Team Foundation Server, SQL Server, SharePoint Server, etc.

Screenshot (5)

 

Windows Store and Windows Phone Developer Accounts

With the great adoption that Windows 8 and Windows Phone are having, creating apps for them should be high on your list of platforms to support! Just think of the over 690 million Windows 7 users that have now started moving to Windows 8!

Windows Store apps is a new type of app that is sold in the Windows Store and runs on Windows 8 devices. To publish an app to its marketplace you require a Windows Store developer account. And you know it: through MSDN you get a registration code that you can use when signing up as a Windows Store developer which will make your first year free.

Windows Phone apps follows the same story – to publish an app to its marketplace you require a Windows Phone developer account, and you also get a code for it from MSDN applies to your first year.

Screenshot (11) StartScreen_Social2ND

Now Microsoft merged the Windows Store and Windows Phone developer account and this would offer a unified registration experience going forward, which means you just need to activate one of the accounts.

 

Windows Store Developer Account Activation Process

Let's start with the Windows Store account. After clicking on Get Code you should see a unique code for your registration. Do not share this code with others. This code is used to activate either of the store accounts or both.

W8_WP8

Then visit the Windows Dev Center, click on Join Now and continue the store registration process as you can see below.

 JoinStore

JoinStore2

Fill in your account information and then click next.

AccountInfo

Accept the legal terms and conditions of the store and click next.

StoreRules

Here comes the most important step, put in the code that you just got from the BizSpark benefits in the box below. So, once you do that you won’t be charged the 99.00$

Price

After that, you will be asked to provide a Credit Card for validation reasons, no money will be deducted from your account. If you have a VISA debit card, try that it might work for you. Then you are all set and good to go for publishing apps.

 

Conclusion

There is a lot more benefits in the BizSpark program which you will be aware of, once you join it. But, I hope to I was able to cover how to make use of the store benefits here. Be the spark of change and sign up for BizSpark then utilize the benefits it gives you; or if you are in BizSpark already review the benefits you have and use them.