In a bid to win over future business, Microsoft has announced a programme to give some start-ups free software and support.
BizSpark is a global project open to private companies that have been in business for less than three years with less than $1m in annual revenue.
The software giant is partnering with business networks around the world as well as government agencies.
“We’re building a customer base for the future,” said Microsoft’s Dan’l Lewin.
“The rising tide of people building new companies, building successful companies using our product is good for us because we share in that over time. The goal is to remove any barriers to getting going.” he told BBC News.
To take part in BizSpark, selected start ups must also gain the recommendation of a venture capital firm, business network or a so-called “Microsoft Champ”, one of the 1,000 company employees around the world focused on software developers.
Those who qualify will get a three-year subscription to the Microsoft Developer Network as well as cloud services technologies.