Back in September of 2009 Microsoft developed a program called WebsiteSpark. WebsiteSpark was meant to drive developer interest into the Windows Web Platform and drive awareness to the Microsoft Expression family of products.
Recently Microsoft announced that the Expression family of products would be changing as they worked towards unifying their development tools and moving this functionality into the Visual Studio suite. The full changes are as follows:
- Expression Blend – was replaced with Blend for Visual Studio 2012
- Expression Web – Visual Studio continued to evolve and thus this functionality was consolidated into Visual Studio and as such, Expression Web 4 SP2 is now FREE
- Expression Encoder – Microsoft is investing in their Windows Azure products and as such will be phasing out Expression Encoder and encouraging users to migrate to Windows Azure Media Services
- Expression Design – is now available also as a free download as Expression Design 4, Free Version.
With these changes it seems it was inevitable that WebsiteSpark would change as well. Sadly WebsiteSpark is no longer accepting registrations and will be supporting existing members through March of 2014 (as in 1 year from now). This is especially sad for me because back in 2009 we were one of the hosting providers leading the charge with WebsiteSpark enrollments and lead the world in enrollments with hundreds of enrolled companies in just a matter of days. We also partnered with Microsoft to deliver over 1100 cloud servers to WebsiteSpark enrolled businesses.
However, not all is lost in the world of *Spark. Microsoft is still offering:
- DreamSpark – Their program geared towards students and to get students interested in building the next Facebook, to build it on the Microsoft platform.
- BizSpark – Their program for startups. This is probably their most successful of the sparks and a fantastic offering.
- YouthSpark – which is their youth outreach program.