Kiruba is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, podcaster and a farmer.

Microsoft v/s Open Source. The Startups Win

I would assume I know a thing or two about startups. For starters, I’ve attempted a couple myself, giving me an inside view of entrepreneurship. The many entrepreneurs that I’ve gotten to know over the years of organizing help give me a peek into the overall ecosystem.

Almost the bulk of the startups that I know of start off using Open Source software or something that’s available for free. PHP is the language of choice for web development. Consequently, MySQL the pick for database. For corporate email, Hosted GMail for domains rules. Google apps for everything with collaboration. Skype for teleconferece. OpenOffice for docs & spreadsheets. If you notice, the underlying common denominator is the cost. It’s zilch. You can’t argue with ‘Free’. For an entrepreneur who is starting off on a shoestring of budget, this *is* a big deal.

It’s a good thing that Microsoft has realized this. Their latest release of the BizSpark program is a great long term vision to ally with the startups and at the same time take on the Open Source onslaught in their own home ground.

Through the BizSpark program, Microsoft is giving away most of its software for virtually free. Check this out. Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server, BizTalk Server and Systems Center, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, MSDN Premium subscription, Microsoft Express Studio (design tools), Microsoft Windows (Vista, XP, all Ultimate & enterprise editions), All SDKs, and Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Professional. In case you didn’t notice, that’s pretty much a bulk of MS’ key offerings. All free for 3 years. Add to this free support.

This reminded me of my home town, Pondicherry’s strategy to boost tourism and business. They gave tax holidays for 5 years to all new hotels and IT companies. No taxes at all. You take home all the profit you make. Ventures started flooding in. It’s been a very successful program. This year that holiday comes to an end, and now the government will benefit from its five year patience because the taxes from these companies will start flowing in.

The strategy is the same for Microsoft. Encourage the startups to use Microsoft products. The first 3 years is the most crucial for startups to grow and they are giving their help and support at this crucial period of their growth. Once these fledgling startus metamorph into an established company, they get to reap the benefits of selling both new software and support.

You have to give it to Microsoft for chalking out a long term strategy across 82 countries.

Will this affect Open Source? One would be tempted to answer ‘yes’ but in the long run, this competition is actually good for the community. It will make them push the bar even higher resulting in better products.

Competition is always good.

More Comic Relief

A few days ago, our coworking office got colourful, thanks to a certain TinTin, Dilbert and Homer Simpson. This was our second installment of comic poster collection.

The entire portrait was created from scratch by our designer, Rajesh. We got it printed at a great place in North Usman Road, T.Nagar called GLO. They have this really fancy machine who’s printing quality that I’m always impressed with. After a week of anxious wait, the poster got framed. Got it done at United Brothers who’s shop is conveniently located close to the printer. Seen here is the person carrying the finished product to my car.

Transported them safely across.

It was past midnight by the time we got down to drilling holes and nailing. Huge dollops of appreciation to the neighbours who understood our need to create a racket at wee hours. We warned them up sufficiently in advance and that helped. We wanted the painting to be done before Jimmy Wales’ visit and the start of Wikipedia Academy.

The Academy in progress and the painting looked real good. Today, I was browsing through the Economic Times in Bangalore and they had a nice colourful picture of the hall with the poster. You should have seen me beam.

Jimmy at our office. Love that dilbert Simpsons picture behind him.

The last two pictures from Jaggy’s collection of photos from Wikipedia Academy.

Recommended Reads on the Mumbai Attack

Some of the best selection of writing on the Mumbai attack by some of the best writers. Many thanks to Peter Griffin for the compilation.

Suketu Mehta’s Op-Ed piece in the New York Times.

Dilip D’souza, who’s writing style I adore, writes about the scene around him in the Washinton Post.

Naresh Fernandes in The New Republic . (See also his piece on Jews in Bombay)

And these pieces, on their blogs, by Amit VarmaSonia Faleiro and Rahul Bhatia.

And these three by Prem Panicker: Respiro Ergo Sum, An Officer and a Gentleman and a Moron, The End Game.  (the latter two link to some excellent stuff as well)

And this, by Ingrid Srinath . (Read also Priyanka Joseph’s comment to that post)

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