To qualify, a company must have been in business for less than three years, have less than $1 million in annual revenue and come with the recommendation of a venture capitalist, business network or one of the Microsoft employees around the world working with software developers, known as “Microsoft Champs.”
In return, the start-up receives a three-year subscription to the Microsoft Developer Network and cloud service technologies. So it’s a good deal, but where’s the catch?
"We’re building a customer base for the future," Dan’l Lewin, vice president of strategic and emerging business development at Microsoft, explained to the BBC.
"The rising tide of people building new companies, building successful companies using our product is good for us because we share in that over time. The goal is to remove any barriers to getting going."
The program can save a small company thousands on software costs. When they do leave the program – which can happen when they’re acquired, surpass the income limit or stay in business past the three-year mark, they’ll have to pay Microsoft a $100 fee then move to paying normal licensing fees.