I’m often asked “How do I sign up for BizSpark?” and more recently “How do I get those sweet Azure Benefits?” Being part of BizSpark is pretty awesome, the list of benefits is staggering, but it’s even better when you activate your Windows Azure benefits. If you are a startup and not already in the BizSpark program you’ll need to determine if you are eligible (you do know what BizSpark is right?). If you can answer yes, oui, ja, hai, si or nod your head to the following then you should definitely keep reading.

1. Are you working at/for/own a startup?

2. Have you been in business less than 5 years?

3. Have you made less than a million USD?

4. You do not have more than 10 employees?

5. You are privately owned?

6. You are writing software?

Still with me? Great! If you haven’t already done so you should really go sign up for BizSpark here. It’s pretty straight forward, you will need details like the name of your startup, your website, business address and contact info etc. There’s no contract, credit card, anything scary really, like I said, pretty straight forward. Once you fill everything out and submit your info, you’ll then stare anxiously, madly clicking refresh waiting for the acceptance email. Ok you probably don’t want to do this since it could take 24-48 hours to be accepted and you really should be working at getting that startup off the ground!

Once you do receive the email and you’ve followed the steps it outlines you should see your My BizSpark page with some very helpful links. Get started by clicking “Get your free software!” then clicking “Download Microsoft Software (via MSDN)”. Now you can go to msdn.microsoft.com anytime and download the software and development tools you need to build your million billion dollar idea!

We’re not done yet though, you’ve got the software and developer tools you need and if you’ve explored your My BizSpark page you’ve found loads of resources to help your business. But what about the Cloud? Don’t you want free Windows Azure benefits too? Of course you do! I mean come on right?

To activate your Windows Azure Benefits head over to msdn.microsoft.com and click on “Access benefits from My Account” (it’s there under Subscriptions) and you’ll see yet more awesome benefits like free Windows Store & Windows Phone developer accounts (and you should totally make use of those) you’ll also see one titled “Activate Windows Azure”. Click that and you’ll be taken to a wizard to create your subscription. Yes it’s another form for you to fill out and yes it will ask for information like your credit card but don’t worry, the only way you will be billed is if you agree to remove the spending limit which is set to $0.

Completed the form? great! You’re ready to start using those Windows Azure benefits right away. Not sure where to get started? We’ve got some upcoming virtual live and interactive events that should help.

 

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