In light of the upcoming Hackathon , it’s worth noting there’s a lot of great free Microsoft offerings to help with hackathons, including excellent integration with open source technologies (like PHP, Python, GIT). A lot of these are cloud based and so work with any platform (Mac, iPhone, Android). Here are some quick links to get you started:

Free C# / HTML editor. (Visual Studio)

You can download VS Express for free, which provides a complete C# editor, compiler, and debugger. It also includes XML and HTML editors.  In addition, you can find lots of free libraries via the Nuget package manager .

Free website hosting via Azure Web Sites (aka “Antares”).

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud offering, which includes support for hosting websites, cloud storage, compute, and much more. You can create a free Azure trial account.

You can host websites for free via Azure Web Sites, which includes support for ASP.Net, PHP, and more.  See a tutorial here.

Host your PHP Website in the cloud  (Azure with WebMatrix)

WebMatrix is a free editor with PHP, HTML, Node support and includes integrated source control and cloud publishing.  WebMatrix is like a streamlined version of VisualStudio for web development.

See the tutorial here.

And another tutorial using PHP and MySQL.

Host RESTful webservices in the cloud (WebApi on Azure)

You can quickly mock up a RESTful API using WebAPI and host live in the cloud.

See tutorial here.

Host your GIT / TFS source control (Codeplex)

CodePlex provides free GIT hosting, along with team management and bug tracking for your project. For example, the source for ASP.Net / MVC / WebAPI is hosted live on codeplex.

Python IDE  (Python Tools for VS)

Python is a highly productive dynamic language perfect for hackathons. Python Tools for VS provides excellent integration with VS for editing, REPL, debugging support, and testing. Check out the screen shots for an impressive overview.

Free document and collaboration (SkyDrive)

See http://skydrive.com  for hosting free groups with your peers that include email lists, document sharing, and online excel and word viewable through your browser.

 

Interesting real world data sets (Azure DataMarket)

Do amazing things by mashing up impressive data sets. Azure Data Market  provides lots of data sets, ranging from global energy consumption statistics to  real GDP per capita by state. You can also create and sell your own data sets here.

Browse here for free data sets.

Solutions for startups (Bizspark)

The Bizspark program provides free softeware and support for startups. See here.

 

Search (Bing)

Search via http://www.bing.com/