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Microsoft unzips $120,000 in FREE gizzits for cloudy upstarts

Shove over, AWS and Google Cloud – it's all about Azure

Microsoft is trying to top Amazon and Google's cloud giveaways by stuffing $120,000 in credits to startups committing to its cloud.

Redmond said on Wednesday that “qualifying” startups would receive an annual allowance of $120,000 in credits for Microsoft Azure from July 1.

For the numerically challenged, that means $10,000-worth of Azure services for startups each month – until the offer ends.

Also included is access to free copies of Microsoft’s developer tools suite Visual Studio and also Office.

The offer expands Microsoft’s existing BizSpark Plus program that gave access to Azure with free software, developer tools and technical support.

Microsoft is hoping to eclipse Amazon and Google, both of whom it's lagging behind in the startup cloud-luring game. Amazon made available up to $100,000 in credits for AWS in September under its AWS Activate program. Google is throwing out the same under its Cloud Platform for Startups.

Those interested in taking Microsoft’s money need to approach one of the company’s accelerators working in seven countries. To qualify, firms must be less than five years old, privately held and earning less than $1m a year.

The free offer is Microsoft’s latest attempt to court startups for its cloud.

Since spinning up Azure in 2010, Microsoft has tried to woo startups, promoting rock-star individuals and companies as poster people for its fledgling service. The idea being, once you're on Azure you never leave.

Latterly, Microsoft has been trying championing Azure as a place friendly to open source – from languages and runtimes – to building apps that can run on iOS.

BizSpark itself was started in 2008 by Microsoft’s corporate vice president for strategic and emerging business development Dan’l Lewin.

The Plus program kicked off in 2009, after the main effort had tried to tempt devs and new firms with low- and no-priced versions of Windows, tools and its server software.

Lewin himself worked in Silicon Valley for more than 30 years, in sales and marketing at Apple, Steve Jobs’ NeXT Inc and at GO Corp, before he joined Microsoft. ®

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