Visual Studio Licensing Guide

Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2018 was first available in November 2017, with Update 1 released on January 29th, 2018. The Visual Studio Licensing Guide (November 2017) is updated for VSTFS 2018 which now includes rights to SQL Server 2017 and is no longer available through the retail channel.

Pages 31/32 confirm that Visual Studio Express 2017 will be the last version of this product, replaced by Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio Community which are also free development products

Find this guide in our ever-growing collection of Licensing Guides here:

Updated Visual Studio Licensing Guide

There’s an updated Visual Studio Licensing Guide for the release of Visual Studio 2017. There aren’t major changes – just remember that “Visual Studio Enterprise Subscription” is the new name for Visual Studio Enterprise with an MSDN Subscription. As usual, find the guide with all its Licensing Guide friends here:


Visual Studio 2017 is Available

Microsoft announce that Visual Studio 2017 is available for download (

The product lineup is pretty much the same – just note the name changes where the “with MSDN” is replaced by “Subscription” – so Visual Studio Enterprise 2015 with MSDN becomes Visual Studio Enterprise Subscription, for example.

This page is useful to get an overview of the current offerings and to see what’s available as one of the newer Cloud Subscriptions:

Visual Studio Subscription Management Resources

Do you manage the formerly-known-as-MSDN Subscriptions for your organisation? You may know that they’re now known as Visual Studio Subscriptions and there’s change afoot for the management portal.

Find an FAQ detailing what’s happening, as well as administration guides for the current VLSC and MPSA portals here:

Visual Studio TFS and Team Services

In November 2016 there were changes made to release management licensing in Visual Studio Team Foundation Server and Team Services.

If you want to understand how concurrent pipelines are licensed (and indeed what they are!) then these are some good resources: a video –, and blog entries for TFS – and TS –

Visual Studio Standard Subscriptions

Name change alert! You might be familiar with MSDN Subscriptions and it’s useful to know that they’re now called Visual Studio Standard Subscriptions. Note that this is distinct from a monthly or annual subscription to Visual Studio Professional/Enterprise which is called a Cloud Subscription.

There are two useful documents which might help you at this transition time: “Understanding Visual Studio Standard Subscriptions” and “Managing Visual Studio Standard Subscriptions”.

You can find them with the rest of the Microsoft licensing guides here:

November 2015 Visual Studio Licensing Guide

There were some changes to Visual Studio licensing in November 2015 and the Licensing Guide is updated to reflect the two main changes: Visual Studio Online is renamed Visual Studio Team Services, and there are now monthly and annual subscriptions available for Visual Studio Professional and Enterprise – the guide does a good job of detailing which MSDN benefits you get with these new subscriptions.

Read our summary of the changes to the licensing here: and download the new guide in the Developer Tools section of our Licensing Guides emporium here:

Visual Studio 2015 Licensing Guide

An updated Licensing Guide is available for Visual Studio 2015, so here’s an overview of the changes to the licensing which are all documented in the guide

Visual Studio Editions

  • Two editions remain unchanged (Visual Studio Professional and Test Professional), and two editions (Premium and Ultimate) are replaced with a single Visual Studio Enterprise edition (page 7)
  • These editions come with an MSDN subscription, although Visual Studio Professional is available without MSDN in some Volume Licensing programs
  • These products are no longer available as Full Packaged Product
  • Customers with active Visual Studio Ultimate/Premium with MSDN subscriptions are automatically converted to Visual Studio Enterprise with MSDN (page 31)

MSDN Subscriptions

  • The MSDN Operating Systems subscription is discontinued, and MSDN Platforms remains (page 7)
  • Extra functionality is added into the MSDN Platforms subscription – Lab Management and IntelliTrace (page 15)
  • Active MSDN Operating Systems subscribers can renew into Visual Studio Professional with MSDN (page 31)

Team Foundation Server

  • Team Foundation Server is licensed with the Server/CAL model but there are some tasks that actually require users to be licensed with more than a CAL ie with Visual Studio Enterprise or Test Professional, or with an MSDN Platforms subscription. The list of features that are available with only a CAL is increased and you can find the list on page 25. If you want a bit more detail and explanation, then Microsoft’s Brian Harry’s blog is a great place to go (

Visual Studio Team Explorer

  • Visual Studio Team Explorer is no longer available as a standalone product (page 27) and again, Brian Harry’s blog gives some great background to this decision and also recommends some alternative ways of working

You can download the Visual Studio 2015 Licensing Guide here:

Visual Studio Licensing Changes

There are some great changes announced to Visual Studio Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio Online licensing starting on 1 September 2015.

As you may know, Visual Studio Online is essentially the online version of Team Foundation Server. VS Online is licensed with a User Subscription Model and TFS with a traditional Server/CAL model. The first big change to the licensing is that if you buy any Visual Studio Online subscription you get a TFS CAL for the named user of the subscription, which means that that user can access VS Online or TFS or both VS Online AND TFS.

Then there’s new pricing for the VS Online Basic subscriptions: the overall price has been reduced and volume discounts have been introduced. In practical terms, this means that 45 users using VS Online Basic today costs $800/month but with the new structure will only cost $310/month.

The details for these changes are in another of Microsoft’s Brian Harry’s great blog posts ( where you’ll also find the timing of the changes for all types of customers