Microsoft lends a tech hand to U.K. startups

Microsoft's Startup Accelerator Program will help startups use software technology such as Silverlight and Live Services

Microsoft will assist U.K. startups in using its software technology under a program launched on Monday by CEO Steve Ballmer.

The Startup Accelerator Program will include technologies such as Silverlight, Microsoft's multimedia browser plug-in, and Live Services, a group of Web-based applications. Microsoft will also offer assistance in business development, marketing, and sales.

Microsoft stands to gain momentum if startup companies are successful in building applications based on its technology. The program could also put Microsoft closer to key startups with technology that Microsoft would rather buy than develop itself.

At least five companies have joined the program so far: Ether Digital, which has a platform for video content over IP; Zebtab, which has a desktop video application; Corebridge, involved in customer relationship management and communication software; ViaPost, which focuses on electronic document delivery; and Miomi, with a Web site that lets people mesh their own content with interactive timelines.

Microsoft already has the U.K. Emerging Business Team, which works with startup companies and venture capital organizations.