If I would start to focus on the .NET platform and be self-employed, then I probably would like to have some Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2010 licenses just for the development environment and for testing, and then a few licenses for the production environment (a Windows Server 2008 Web) and added to that upgrades when new versions is available. This will end up in a quite big amount of money.

Is there any kind of bundle discount that I can get from Microsoft in such a case? And what is the requirement to be able to get that discount?

  • 4
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is tour support for Microsoft products.
    – gnat
    Sep 17, 2013 at 7:40

6 Answers 6


How about a 100% discount? If you are making software you intend to sell, you qualify for BizSpark, which gives all your developers MSDN subscriptions.

If you intend instead to offer your services, you don't qualify for BizSpark, but you still don't need to buy separate licenses for dev, staging etc. You can get an MSDN subscription, which covers one developer across any number of machines other than production. You don't install dev tools on production, and your clients are responsible for the Windows, SQL etc licenses they need.

It is generally useful to join the partner program. The Registered level is free and lets you buy an MSDN subscription at a dramatically reduced price, 80-90% off or so. The program names vary over time - Empower, Action Pack, etc so you would need to check the partner program to be sure what they are and what they cost at the moment.

Finally, back to the free angle, don't rule out Visual Studio Express, SQL Express etc - absolutely no cost ever and almost all the features of the full products.

  • Even if you don't qualify for the BizSpark program, as Kate says there are lots of free resources available for doing development. Most any programming task you need to accomplish can be done with the Express editions and VMs of the various platforms are usually available with 90 day trials. As long as you keep your repository outside of the VM you can save your work out and just roll forward. If you get enough traction then you could further pursue something like BizSpark or one of the less expensive MSDN options. Sep 29, 2010 at 2:00
  • 1
    There's also the Webspark programme.
    – Murph
    Sep 29, 2010 at 8:18
  • 1
    Just for clarification: The Webspark Murph is referring to is called "WebsiteSpark"
    – Marek
    Oct 26, 2010 at 8:08
  • Out of curiosity, what's the 'catch' for BizSpark? From the website I couldn't see any, and all it says is it wants to help small businesses - why? (Maybe I'm just being skeptical, but there has to be something in it for Microsoft)
    – Rob
    Nov 21, 2011 at 2:05
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    @Rob There is no catch. Imagine you're a startup. If you choose your tools based only on cost, you might not choose Microsoft tools. By making them free during the first few years when money is tight, they increase the chance you'll choose them. After all, they are good tools. Then someday you might pay for them (or not, there are other legit ways to never pay for the tools) and of course you'll probably be writing for Windows, for IIS, for SQL Server and for other products Microsoft can sell to your customers. It's a simple and transparent business model. They don't need to trick you. Nov 21, 2011 at 3:18

If you are a student you should check out dreamspark. It allows students to get basically any professional level tool for free. Last I checked there was VS 2010, Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2008 Developer, Expression Studio Ultimate, and a bunch of others.


There's also an Action Pack Subscription in addition to the MSDN subscription and BizSpark program.

  • 1
    the link in your answer lead me to page that says nothing about "action pack", would you mind expanding a bit on that?
    – gnat
    Sep 18, 2013 at 6:41
  • Action Pack subscription basics in 2 minutes: youtu.be/SGSmScJ3H-0 Sep 9, 2014 at 12:06
  • Bear in mind the Action Pack VS licenses are "Internal Usage Rights" only, so are intended to be used for development for internal purposes only not for external revenue products.
    – Schneider
    May 16, 2017 at 8:03

You should look into getting an MSDN subscription. The "free" software you get can/will pay for itself pretty quickly.

  • would you mind explaining more on what it does and why do you recommend it as answering the question asked? "Link-only answers" are not quite welcome at Stack Exchange
    – gnat
    Sep 18, 2013 at 6:42

The recommendations here for BizSpark and MSDN are great recommendations, in addition something that would be helpful is to look into becoming a "Microsoft Certified Partner", the process is quite simple, and you get a multi-tenant MSDN license for development/test installations. I did this for my consulting business three years ago and it was the best investment ever, and the price is right. ($1,500 a year).


You could also get a free MSDN Ultimate Subscription and Technet by contributing enough to the community to become qualified as a Microsoft MVP. It takes a bit of time though, but it's definitely well invested time especially if you want to be independent. Building your personal brand should be one of your highest priorities before you embark on self-employment.

  • 2
    I have to say this is absolutely the most expensive way to get free software I can think of. I could earn the money for an MSDN Ultimate in a fraction of the time I've given away doing the things that earned my MVP. Of course the trick is I would do those things even without the award. Mar 24, 2011 at 15:29
  • Oh I wasn't saying it was the most efficient way of doing it. But honestly if you're interested in growing your career, it's what you'd do anyway. Mar 26, 2011 at 18:56
  • agreed. Mar 26, 2011 at 19:15
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    Without access to the Microsoft suite of dev tools it is harder for one to become an MVP in order to gain access to aforementioned tools.
    – Ed James
    Jun 9, 2011 at 12:41
  • 1
    My answer was a bit tongue in cheek. There are several programs Microsoft offers to help get you started with their ecosystem. If you're a student, there is DreamSpark. If you're a website developer/consultant there's WebsiteSpark. And if you're starting a software business, there's Bizspark. Jun 9, 2011 at 16:37

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