image Today, Microsoft announced the WebsiteSpark program, which continues the tradition established by DreamSpark and BizSpark to provide web application developers and designers access to tools, training, and hosting providers to support their solutions.

Full program details and application procedures can be found here; here are some of the highlights:

Eligibility requirements are as follows

  • A professional firm of 10 or fewer members whose primary business activity is Web development and design services.
  • For continued participation in the program (which may last up to three years), the company must deploy a public-facing website within six-months of enrolling in WebsiteSpark.
  • A $100 fee (no typos there!) when the company exits the program; there are no upfront costs to WebsiteSpark.

Coincident with the launch of WebsiteSpark, Microsoft has also updated the Web Platform Installer, a free download utility that provides access to and automatic installation and configuration of a host of Microsoft and open source web technologies, including ASP.NET MVC, Silverlight, SQL Server Express, WordPress, Acquia Drupal, PHP, Umbraco, and more. 

If all this looks great, but you don’t know where to start, check out the ASP.NET Learn site, and specifically the great set of new videos from Joe Stagner on general ASP.NET and getting started on your development trek with either Visual Studio or Microsoft’s free IDE for Web application developers, Visual Web Developer.

For more information on WebsiteSpark, the Microsoft Web Platform Installer, and web technologies in general, visit the Microsoft /web site.