Good developers need good tools, it’s simple as that. If you are building software for Windows, the only real option is Visual Studio. The down side to Visual Studio? The $1,200 starting price tag. While Microsoft is now providing the free Express editions, these are aimed more at hobbyists, not serious developers.
Microsoft thankfully is here to help: If your company is less than three years old and has less than $1 million in annual revenue, they have a program to give you all that you need. BizSpark provides the key tools and technologies to get your start-up moving without impacting your budget.
The BizSpark program provides Visual Studio Team Suite + MSDN Premium for your developers (up to 25), plus _production _licenses for software like Windows 2008 Server and SQL Server 2008. Unlike Microsoft’s other start-up helper Empower, there are no requirements that you use certain technologies or pursue any certifications.
While Empower does provide licenses for things such as Office for employee use which BizSpark does not, BizSpark more than makes up for it in the production server licensing.
For a start-up with little funding (normally what the founders happen to have in the bank), building for the Linux platform using MySQL and Ruby on Rails can be very tempting. Now with BizSpark the money takes a back seat (at least for the first three years), and the technologies can compete on a level playing field.