I got extremely excited when Joel mentioned the Empower ISV program for AUD$1500. It really did seem too good to be true so I immediately checked it out.
Indeed Microsoft Australia also offer the Empower ISV program. First of all, you apparently need to be able to show that you are new to Microsoft platform development to be eligible. We managed to convince them that our new application (currently under development) was sufficient for this. Then I told a friend about the program, and he looked a little deeper.
The program is for 12 months only. At the end of that 12 months you must discontinue using the software for development purposes. But, get this, you cannot upgrade from the products you are using to the full version of the product. To get the equivalent full-price version of what ISV gets you, you need to spend AUD$4000.
So, after spending $1.5 to try this out, you then get slogged for an additional $4k!
Now you might be thinking “so what – it’s still cheap”. That is unless a) you have a small development team, b) you don’t currently spend the money on over-priced bloat-ware from Microsoft or c) both (as is the case for us).
We have been developing our software using non-MS products (except for the operating system) for three years now – and you know what? Our total development tools budget is less than $3k. There is one thing that we can’t do efficiently with our current setup – Windows.Forms applications – which for us is not an issue.
If we were to run our product ourselves, buying all of the MS related software etc. we would be spending approx. $30k. No wonder Linux, Mono and other open source tools are getting so much interest! (And why MS supposedly suffers so much from piracy.)
In fact, just this morning, I noticed WebCentral, one of Australia’s largest ISP’s is now offering Linux-based servers. This from one of Microsoft’s highlighted customers.
For the record, the development tools we use:
Let’s see – I spend a bit more time getting my head around Linux, and what do I get?
Mono.net – $0
Postgres SQL – $0
Linux – $0 (and WebCentral can still host it – we’re already paying them so no difference there)
Primal Code – ~$600 / developer
TestTrack – ~$600 / developer (or Bugzilla – $0)
Google and online documentation: $0
NUnit – $0
NDoc – $0
So I can do what costs me ~ $30k with MS products for around $1.5k per developer.
Maybe I’m late on the cluetrain, but this is ridiculous.
Oh, and when I pointed out to the sales person all of this (a pointless excercise I know), the smug reply was “actually, we do quite well as it is”. So it seems I’ve learnt the lesson – if you’re a BigCo you can afford to support the Microsoft platform. Otherwise…