Thursday, November 14, 2013

The cost of Visual Studio Online (cloud based TFS) and 10 Visual Studio Premium Licences for a great price

On November 13, 2013, Microsoft renamed their hosted TFS to Visual Studio Online. The basic idea is the first five users are free (user type Basic) and after that the cost per-user, per-month is (all prices in this article are USD):
  • Visual Studio Online Basic: $10 introductory price, $20 regular price
  • Visual Studio Online Professional: $22.50 introductory price, $45 regular price
  • Visual Studio Online Advanced: $30 introductory price, $60 regular price

The pricing is a bit more complex. For example: Visual Studio Online Professional includes per-user use of Visual Studio Profession 2013 but this flavor of subscription is limited to ten users. Each Visual Studio Premium with MSDN user gets access to any Visual Studio Online project so they are not charged as an additional user. This is a fourth tier of user type. A complete breakdown of features can be found at Visual Studio Online.

Using the Microsoft Partner program for 2014 it is possible to acquire Visual Studio 2013 Premium with MSDN licenses that are extremely inexpensive ($235 per-user compared to the retail prices which is over $5000). The simplest way for a small development shop to acquire such licenses is to sign up to be a Microsoft Partner and complete the Application Development competency at a total cost of $2349.

The license breakdown is as follows for a Microsoft Silver Partner with the Application Development competency:
  • 5 Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 Premium with MSDN as part of Microsoft Silver Partner core benefits (see Core benefits and requirements)
  • 5 Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 Premium with MSDN as part of the Application Development competency (see Application Development)

The cost of becoming a Microsoft Silver Partner is $1850. The simplest way to acquire the Application Developer competency is to develop an application that passes one of the following application tests (all other application tests have been retired for 2014):
  • Silver Competency Test for Windows 8
  • Silver Competency Test for Windows Server 2012
  • Silver Competency Test for Windows Azure

The previous tests cost $499 each (see Partner Network: Microsoft Platform Ready). The alternative to platform testing is for an organization to employ or contract two Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs). The MCPs must each have met one of the following exam or certification requirements:
  • Exam 70-480: Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3
  • Exam 70-481: Essentials of Developing Windows Store Apps using HTML5 and JavaScript
  • Exam 70-482: Advanced Store App Development using HTML5 and JavaScript
  • Exam 70-483: Programming in C#
  • Exam 70-484: Essentials of Developing Windows Store Apps in C#
  • Exam 70-485: Advanced Store App Development using C#
  • Exam 70-486: Developing ASP.NET MVC Web Applications
  • Exam 70-487: Developing Windows Azure and Web Services

The total cost for ten Microsoft Visual Studio Premium with MSDN ($1850 plus $499) is $2349. So a small development shop gets five free Basic licenses to hosted TFS (a.k.a Visual Studio Online) plus the ten licenses that come with being a Microsoft Silver Partner with the Application Development competency.

There are alternatives to this approach to gaining cost effective development license, namely signing up for Microsoft's Action Pack for Development and Design. The cost of this is $429 and is targeted at organizations that develop (including testing and design) web solutions and applications. There are are a large number of licenses associated with this package including three Visual Studio 2013 Professional with MSDN licenses. These three licenses added to the five free Basic user license for hosted TFS (a.k.a Visual Studio Online) give an organization access to eight users.

Becoming a Microsoft Partner (including the Application Development competency) or signing up for Action Pack for Development and Design is not solely about acquiring inexpensive Visual Studio licenses. Microsoft makes thousands of dollars in software available (SQL Server 2012, Windows 2012, etc.) as part of these plans and includes perks such as Bing Ads credits and free product support incidents. 

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