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At 42 pages, the Visual Studio 2010 and MSDN Licensing whitepaper is a very useful and comprehensive review of Visual Studio & MSDN licensing. As it’s a long and detailed document, I thought it might be useful to highlight some of the key points and draw attention to a few obscure issues that may not be widely known. I recommend the whole article for future reference but meanwhile here is a summary for those in a hurry.

Visual Studio and MSDN Licensing Summary

  1. Visual Studio licenses are per user. Each licensed developer can install an unlimited number of copies of the software.
  2. Licensed users may not share with unlicensed users or team members who may not have the correct level of licensing to use/access the development environment & tools. All developers & IT Pros involved in the dev & test project must have the correct MSDN license for their level of access.
  3. Developer licenses can be re-assigned when team members move on (though not within 90 days of the first assignment).
  4. Downgrade rights apply in such a way that developers can simultaneously run projects based on Visual Basic 6 and Visual Basic .NET, for example.
  5. Developers & testers are licensed to run the software on work & home PCs.

Additional Points of Note

  1. Perpetual use rights. The Visual Studio Edition & Version current at the time of expiry of the MSDN subscription carries a perpetual license. The Dev & Test OSes current at the time of expiry of the MSDN subscription also carry perpetual licenses, although without a continuing subscription all access to downloads  & keys for previous versions (& new versions) will lapse.
  2. Renewing Down. Given the fairly generous entitlements available on an expiring subscription we’d advise caution when exercising this option as it means surrendering your rights under, let’s say, the Premium Edition, in favour of the lower edition (Professional in this case). Your perpetual rights to Premium would survive your subscription only if you end or renew it, not if you re-level it downwards, a process which requires you to forfeit your rights to the higher edition. We would advise you to “renew up“.
  3. Office application testing rights are only included with an Ultimate or Premium Edition subscription. Together with dev & test for Office applications & Dynamics CRM, a Visual Studio Ultimate or Premium Edition with MSDN Subscription includes a business use right for Office Professional, Visio Premium, and Project Professional.

Team Foundation Server Licensing

  1. New in 2010 is the inclusion of a TFS Server & CAL with each Visual Studio Edition purchased with an MSDN subscription: Ultimate, Premium, Professional & Test Professional. If you purchase a Visual Studio license under Volume Licensing without an MSDN Subscription then you don’t receive a TFS CAL or Server license.
  2. Users of non-Microsoft development systems, such as Java Eclipse, who still want to collaborate around TFS will need a special product called Visual Studio Team Explorer Everywhere. However, having licensed the middleware it will also be necessary to license the clients. Java developers with VSTEE will still need to buy TFS CALs.
  3. Each Team Foundation Server comes with a SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition license exclusively for the TFS implementation. Note that it’s SQL Server 2008  not for 2008 R2. No SQL CALs are required.
  4. The Windows OS used to host the TFS Server is not included in the MSDN license and must be licensed separately under Volume Licensing (VL). Host OS can be Windows 7/Vista or Server 2008/2003.
  5. There are at least 5 client interfaces to TFS: Team Explorer, Team Web Access, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Project, Microsoft Expression Blend & Studio, or programmatically through the API.

IntelliTrace Licensing

This new feature in Visual Studio 2010 can only be licensed with Visual Studio Test Professional or Visual Studio Ultimate.

The Test Agents are available via a free download called Visual Studio Agents 2010 (though their use must be licensed as above).

Lab Management Licensing

This new feature is licensed through Visual Studio Ultimate or Visual Studio Test Professional.

Load Testing Licensing

This is licensed through Visual Studio Ultimate (250 virtual users) and through Virtual User Packs (1,000 users). Additional 1,000 Virtual User Packs can be licensed to simulate higher loads.

User Acceptance Testing Licensing

MSDN licenses are not required for those users who are involved in UAT. Furthermore, RDS/Terminal  Server can be used to provide up to 200 anonymous connections via intranet or Internet for demonstration & testing purposes.

Product Keys & Media

Surprisingly the advice in this white paper is to use Volume License media in place of MSDN media if available. We wouldn’t recommend this as a SAM best practice but if Microsoft says it’s OK, then who are we to disagree.

If you have any queries of questions, feel free to post a comment or get in touch with me directly.


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