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Rick Laplante - Talking about Visual Studio Team System (Licensing), Part II

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Rick, general manager of Visual Studio Team System, responds to customer complaints about VSTS's planned licensing and pricing.

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  • I know that this interview was supposed to help but...

    I am one of those consultants faced with a hard decision. I am currently an MSDN Universal user but it expires at the end of May. I need to make a  decision on direction very soon.

    With each explanation, it is becoming less clear just what one will get with their choice. I thought I heard something to the effect that premium would have "all a developer needs". Yet there is a Team Developer version. What more is in there?

    I have yet to find something that clearly points out what tools are in each VS2005 edition. (The interview seemed to suggest that this might not be fully decided upon.) I have also yet to see the extra dollar amount to get a Team Suite if one is a Universal subcriber altough this has been stated to be an option at that level.

    So far, what I do see is that whether I am a Universal or an Enterprise subscriber, I can get the Team Developer edition. This would suggest that if I want that rather than the Architect or Tester version, I should step down in my renewal as there is no added benefit to being a Universal subscriber (other than being able to get Architect or Tester instead).
    I have been on the phone with MSDN reps and they are just as confused as I am. Can someone put out something definitive soon? I would hate to make a wrong decision because I have incomplete information and also would hate to renew at Universal prices and get nothing more than at the Enterprise level which is a few hundred dollars cheaper.
  • Ok,

    Ok, so for $3000 I can get the foundation server. I would want this to replace what I use now,  PVCS Verion Manager and Tracker, with Team Foundation Server. Since I won't want to pay for two Source/Issue control products.

    So, here is the question.

    Can people that do not use Visual Studio 2005 access all the features of TFS also?

    For example,

    Developers not using Visual Studio still need a source control and issue tracking solution.

    QA, I doubt my show will be VS Tester sku for QA people. How will the access TFS?

    Support puts issues into our bug tracking system for maintenance to pick up. How will they access it?

    In other words, are there font ends for TFS other than VS 2005, and if so what are they? Will I need to buy CALs for these people since they won't have one that comes with a VS.Net 2005 sku.

    Thanks,
    PilotBob
  • TFS has a pretty robust extensibility model (based on Web services).  As such, it will let a bunch of third party products (including ones you can write on your own) connect to it.

    Right now, we have a partner building a Unix connector, another building an Eclipse connector, and others looking at building connectors from other products/platforms.

    Testers using other products: we have a number of third party testing tools vendors building connectors to TFS.

    For the support question, if you built your own product for support engineers, you can modify it to store those support incidents into TFS.  If you purchased one off the shelf from another vendor, please encourage them to build connectors to Team System.  We're working with a number of different vendors on this, but I'm not sure we have any commitments in that arena right now.
  • RE: what's in the various SKUs.  First, for VS overall as an aggregate, consult this link.  For Team System itself, consult this whitepaper which has a diagram I built to describe what's in what.  The whitepaper is a little bit old, and since it was published we've included Team Build (continuous build) in the Team Foundation Server.  Everything else should still be accurate.

    RE: Price for Universal -> Team Suite will be published shortly.

    RE: Universal/Enterprise -> Team Edition for SW Developers.  You are correct.  As an MSDN/E subscriber, you would automatically transition to VS Team Edition for SW Developers.  As an MSDN/U subscriber, you'd get a choice (Architect, Dev, Tester) AND you'd also likely get a better promotional upgrade price to Suite.
  • I also wanted to make sure everyone reads Rob Caron's Hitchiker's Guide to VSTS pricing.
  • No idea what's going on with the Beta ordering site.  I'll go figure it out.
  • The beta website ordering process has been fixed and I was able to order this morning (already downloaded from MSDN but thought the training DVD might be interesting!)
  • If you live outside of the USA, you need to use "http://www.microsoft.com/betaexperience" to get your Beta DVD. However for some reason the web site will not allow you to order the DVD if your job title is "developer" you have to provide a "magic" set of answers for it to consider you "worthy" of getting the DVD.

    This has now been fixed, thanks.

  • I live and work in the UK, the problem about saying "no one pays retail" is that a lot of the discounts are only for USA based developers. The discounts that are valid in the UK are very hard to find, just try finding out the prices of ISV advantage in the UK, they are not on the main English Microsoft web site.  Unlike a developer from a none English speaking county, I normally only every use the Microsoft.com web size.  (USA only content should be on “Microsoft.co.usa”) 

    I work in a small company (ISV); we have just moved to subversion (from CVS) for source code control and use an open source bug tracking system that we are not too unhappy with.  We use CrouseControl.Net for automatic builds. Therefore it is the "desktop" tools that are of most interest to us.  I think every developer should get basic testing tools.

    a) A cut down web load testing tools, I don’t mind if it is limited to a few "virtual users", provided that the tool is very easy to use.  I do not want to have to code “view state” into my test scripts.  (50 "virtual users" is more then enough for a normal developer.)

    b) A UI testing tools that works!.   I do not mind having the test management framework in the "tester" version of MSDEV, provided a developer can records and playback a single UI test script.   (I need to be able to replay a test script that the test team has recorded to demonstrate a bug.)

    c) I do not care about unit testing, nUnit and TestDriven.Net is good enough!  We are using it at present and it does the job.  (However it would be good if all Microsoft based developers in the world know how to use the same unit testing framework, so as to cut down the cost of retaining as people move between jobs.)  I hope that you have confirmed that TestDriven.Net works with MSDEV V2, as part of your testing!

    The high level design tools are not of match interest, as it takes a long time to learn such tools and the fact that they are designed for in house development means they are not of match use to an ISV.  Give the small size of our teams; if the system high level design is to complex to fit on a white board, then it is too complex for us to ship in a reasonable time frame.  The class designer tools is great! I am very happy that it is included on all versions of MSDEV.

    What I think I after for is a developer + small scaling testing package.

    The fact that I could not even order a MSDEV beta 2 DVD in the UK at the same time as it started shipping in the US give me the message the Microsoft does not value me as I am a UK a based developer.  

    You can now order the DVD in the uk from www.microsoft.com/betaexperience

    Ian Ringrose <- email address on web site

  • Thanks for the info. It is a great help. I know I'm pushing it here but could you give a better ETA for the pricing of upgrades to the full Team Suite and what MSDN subscriptions will offer the upgrade? I need to make a decision within a month.

    Also, what are the plans as far as yearly renewal prices?
  • Yearly renewals for the VSTS client SKU + MSDN Premium Subscription remain the same as MSDN/U today.  In fact, that was a design goal of the pricing.

    We should be able to roll out better pricing information very soon:

    1. We're prepping a much better Web site than what you see today.  I personally apologize for how hard it is to get information now and trust me, we're going to do our best to fix it.

    2. The feedback we've received has been tremendous (both pro and con, by the way).  Buried within the dialogue have been some extremely fascinating licensing questions.  Our current plan addresses most of these already (albeit, with some clarification from Microsoft) while a handful of these licensing questions has caused us to go back and consider some things that we hadn't thought of.

    3. The vast majority of our customers for these tools buy in volume with a dedicated account manager.  We optimized our pricing rollout for that audience, for better or worse.  Typically, we don't send out the nitpicky pricing details until right before launch, but this time around we're going to accelerate that as much as we can and get info out quickly.

    Again, I apologize for the delay and difficulty in getting information.  We're working on fixing it.
  • This is probably going to sound like a dumb question but here goes anyway:

    What is the date By which one must have an MSDN/U or MSDN/E subscription to qualify for conversion to the appropriate VS Team products?

    If it is not settled yet, when would be the earliest?
  • According to http://forums.microsoft.com/msdn/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=7626 and http://lab.msdn.microsoft.com/ProductFeedback/viewfeedback.aspx?feedbackid=f2f61a17-0ec6-41e2-b208-4ed9aecfe171 it looks like Microsoft Partners will not get team system.

    This was not my understanding after watching the video, but as it is some time since I watch the video I may be wrong. My employer is in the process of becoming a Microsoft Partner, I have been pushing them to do so mostly to give me access to Team System.

  • b_eb_e
    After talking to other small development shops (1 to 3 developers) and consultants, I think Micro$oft is still not hearing the message from MSDN Universal subscribers such as myself. (I won't attempt to speak for larger shops or their perspective.) 

    1) We don't care about the Team System server component. I'm a single developer and occasionally out-source a few small pieces of code. VSS is good enough. But I do want the Architect, the Developer, and the Tester tools. If you ship a new MSDN Universal, with the added Architect, the Developer, and the Tester tools for a few hundred dollars more than I am currently paying (since these component do represent some added value to me), I would be satisfied. If these products only work when there is a Team Server component present, limit the server to five users and only a single simultaneous connection.

    2) MSDN Universal means I have a legal license for development for all current Microsoft products. I've barely looked at Visio, OneNote, Project, Great Plains Accounting, SharePoint Server, etc. etc., but having a MSDN Universal subscription means that I can bid on development work for these products (and compete based on talent) against the largest shops, rather than limiting my market to only writing SQL sprocs and Word plug-ins. This is what MSDN Universal means to the small developer. This is why we are so upset when Microsoft is trying to change the rules and give large development shops all of the tools and limit small shops to a few. Do you really think single developers don't want to properly architect and test their applications and web services? Microsoft seems to be in denial about this perception of a universal MSDN (and trying to get rid of the name MSDN Universal did not help). The vast majority of MSDN Universal bits shipped to small developers are never used, but we value that they are available to us if we need them to win a project. 

    3) I keep hearing $10,000 and $50,000 dollars in this video. Newsflash: My clients are starting to switch their server from Windows NT & 2000 to Linux, which is free. The tools to develop on these platforms are getting better every month and are free. There is a huge and rapidly growing support network of developers and the development information (fueled by India, China, Brazil, England, etc.) which is free. We (by which I mean small development shops and Microsoft) are competing against this free infra-structure, which is gaining market share every month. Whether Microsoft likes it or not, if they wish to maintain any fraction of their market share (which was fueled by independent developers and consultants such as myself, not by large shops), they are going to have to help underwrite the cost of the development tools for their platform to some extent. I'm already $3000 behind every year in making a profit versus my growing free open-source competition (and my clients keep asking me if they can save money on their server and product licensing fees). The geek in me is exited about a lot of the new tools Microsoft has coming this year and next year, but the accountant in me...
  • 1.  The Team Foundation Server is optional.  If you elect to install and use it, you will get all the collaboration benefits of Team System (Work Items, source code control, process guidance, policy enforcement, SharePoint portals, etc).

    2.  MSDN/U becomes MSDN Premium beginning with this 2005 release.  In the past, you bought the subscription first and got a Visual Studio product with it.  Beginning in 2005, we're altering our model to be consistent with the rest of Microsoft: meaning, you now buy a Visual Studio product and attach a subsciption to it.  All the subscriber benefits you saw in MSDN/U are now present in MSDN Premium.  You may attach an MSDN Premium Subscription to Visual Studio Professional Edition (a pure superset of what used to be in the old MSDN Universal Subscription, for about $200 less), or you may attach an MSDN Premium SUbscription to any of the Team System client products.

    3.  There is considerable value in these tools, and they are available at a considerably lower price than competitive products.  You'll notice that we lowered the price of the Professional Edition product, we lowered the price of the equivalent to MSDN/U, and we introduced a series of low cost products with the Express Editions.
  • b_eb_e

    I just love the way Micro$oft Does Not Listen to it's developers. Is this something you're taught by SteveB or do they only hire people with this wonderful quality? Let's try this again:

    1) I'm not talking about the optional Team Server install -- I'm talking about getting all of the Architect, Developer, and Tester bits my larger competition will get without having to pay thousands of dollars extra for my subscription. Duh.

    2) MSDN Universal (you can say Universal and understand it's meaning right?) means getting all of the bits for development -- not all of the bits we had in 2004 or in 2003. When Microsoft added OneNote it was added to MSDN Universal without having to pay extra. When Microsoft bought Visio or Great Plains, it was added to MSDN Universal without having to pay extra. This has been the history with MSDN Universal. Microsoft, stop acting so g*d damn dense -- this is the expectation you've created by your past actions and now trying to significantly alter how you treat your small developers is what is causing all of this friction.

    3) Granted this last point is more opinion than fact, but I'm faced with this reality every month in my business. Your competition is not the companies charging thousands of dollars more -- they are already dead without realizing it. (How many smart businesses are still rolling out new Unix servers?) Your competition is Google, and Salesforce.com, and thousands of developers who work for free. And just like IBM lost the personal computer market by stubbornly refusing to understand the problem, you're loosing the desktop and the internet server markets with your actions.

    Micro$oft, your small, independent developers are why you were successful in the past and your canaries in the coalmine for the future. We don't want to become experts in Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP, but keep ignoring us and your other customers, and we'll be forced onto that path to survive.

  • Ashith RajAshith Raj Wanna be a DotNet Geek

    Great Video.. thanks for the info.. Need u to put those 4 questions on a site and pricing on a chart.. I think It will clear up things for most of them..

    Good work... thanks for keeping small ISV and developers in mind who want it all..

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