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Transition from MSDN Universal to Visual Studio Team Edition

I work in a small-to-medium sized business (over $25 million in revenues) as their “E-Commerce Manager”. In the normal course of my job I play many different “roles” from project manager and systems architect to software developer and tester depending upon our current project load and business strategy. I’m sure many of you reading this post are in exactly the same situation and “wear many different hats” depending upon the circumstances. This is especially true for people working in small-to-medium sized businesses (Microsoft’s target market for future growth) where staffing is lean and people handle more than one job function.

Why is it then that those of us who spent thousands on our MSDN Universal Subscriptions, have to “choose” between one of three different flavors (for Software Architects, for Software Developers or for Software Testers) of the new Visual Studio Team Edition? As you can imagine, each different flavor of the new Visual Studio Team Edition includes some very cool new tools designed for the specific “role” the edition is targeting.

 ==>  ????

What happens if your week is like mine?

Monday: Write up project plan and layout overal architecture for new e-commerce web application.

Tuesday: Finish BizTalk orchestration for outbound invoices to customer XYZ.

Wednesday: Review SQL developer’s new stored procedure code and logic.

Thursday: Run load tests on new public web site redesign.

Friday: Debug C# code in new currency translation web service.

As always, your comments are welcome and appreciated!

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12 Responses to Transition from MSDN Universal to Visual Studio Team Edition

  1. Erik Wynne Stepp says:

    My employer is concerned about the current pricing, too, even with the various promotional licensing that is being made available.

    However, to compare the functionality of Team System with the functionality of a spell-checker is hardly appropriate.

    If you’re a developer you know that the amount of work to develop a spell-checker is several magnitudes smaller than Team System, and that is what we’re paying for when we purchase software–the work involved to design, implement, and test quality software.

    Team System is a significant level of work even above VS 2005 Professional, so it is fair that we should pay something more for the tools. I don’t think it should be double or triple, however. (VS 2005 Pro is about $1200, while VS 2005 Team System (single role) is about $3200, both retail for 5+ licenses).

    I also think it is lame that Team System Suite isn’t included as the default with MSDN Premium.

  2. Steve Hebert says:

    Hi Sahil,

    I agree with you on MSDN – You get everything for cheap because when you implement solutions on their software and they earn that back 10-fold (at least) on production licensing.

    Here’s where I disagree – Team System is part of keeping the development tool competitive in the market. Would you pay 2x the price for a word processor with spell checking? No, because the market says it’s part of the core product and that’s where things like Team System are moving. Believing the development tool should be a major source of income is flawed from the perspective of keeping average developers out of the game.

    Trust me, when companies start making Team System a requirement on a programmers resume for hiring purposes – people will understand very quickly. And 6 months to a year afterward, Microsoft will get it too.

  3. sahilmalik says:

    Here is my take on it.

    Microsoft is a software development company.

    They sell operating systems like windows – which you get for cheap (as a part of MSDN Universal) because the intent is that you will use that copy, to build something, that will help MS sell a few copies of the OS.

    They sell products like MS Office, which you get for cheap (MSDN), because you leverage that tool, so that they can sell more office licenses.

    They give you server software for cheap (SQL Server, Sharepoint, Biztalk, Windows 2003), with the intent that you build a system, and they will milk you for licensing.

    Then they give you team system for cheap, so you can deploy it on a production server, and microsoft can make money by selling licenses .. wait a minute, that doesn’t sound right !!! Team system is supposed to be used as production software, in a development environment.

    I see nothing wrong with MS’ pricing, especially in light of the competition’s pricing.

    – SM

  4. Steve Hebert says:

    Team System Pricing == Pointy-hair-brained move

    Ok. Here’s a different take on Team Suite Pricing… I buy MSDN Universal every year aside from my day job. Why? Because moving from project to project, there are tools I may need to come up to speed on and stay on top of despite the decisions of the owning company. In one shot, I get all the latest tools and I bring that ability and knowledge into my job.

    Put another way – why did MSSql succeed in the face of Oracle? A big piece is because the average programmer could gain experience with it. Let’s face it – Sql Server 4.2 was seriously flawed but I used it and messed around with it on my own. I never gained Oracle experience on my own simply because I couldn’t afford their product. When the need for a database server came around, I recommended it (a few releases later) – and an internal recommendation goes much farther than a salesrep talking about features. I think MS has lost focus that a low-cost strategy really benefits themselves when they make tools like this available at a low cost. If a company buys ‘team system’ and makes it a part of their process, they are going to sell far more attached licenses(OS/DB/etc) than they ever could from dollars by Team Suite licenses. I suggest this goal is the real purpose of Team Suite!

    Next, does Team System really compete against Rational? The entire purpose of Rational is pushing IBM’s process and consulting people on the less fortunate. Is that Microsoft’s purpose with Team Suite? I’m sure there is some pointy-haired manager at MS that would say “yes”, but I think the answer is really an emphatic ‘no’ based on competition goals and ultimate sales purpose.

    I think MS should cut the price, kick IBM in the shins (once again) and take the market with a full toolset that everyone can learn/do!

    [This brings up another question – why isn’t IBM considered ‘evil’ anymore? I think they have been the biggest benefactor of Microsoft’s lightening-rod position.]

  5. I worked for Dell for 4 years, so you could say that I was an “enterprise developer”, but that doesn’t mean that the team is 50 people and everyone is shoved into a single role. Most roles overlapped, even in the big enterprise. Large enterprises are also hard to manage, so they are broken into departments. . . then into functional groups. What you end up with are plenty of small companies in one, so even large enterprises operate as many small companies managed as one.

  6. I agree with you, Jeff. For most independent consultants, the current MSDN Universal subscription represents a fair investment and is almost out of reach for most. The “Team Suite” subscription looks like what most independent consultants need; however, the price (currently about USD 10,939) is far too expensive.

    Microsoft is not helping itself with respect to promoting adoption of the platform and server products because most highly-skilled consultants are independent and keep their skills up to date not only working on client solutions, but also working on their own. Since “Team Suite” pricing is likely out of reach (possibly representing about 10% of a consultant’s annual income) the higher-skill set essentially becomes embedded in organizations that can afford the subscription. This effectively cuts off an existing base of developers that are very effective at promoting adoption of Microsoft products. Independent consultants often have better, trusted relationships with their clients when compared to the relationship between most organizations and their clients.

    Moreover, the subscriptions include developer editions of the Server product lines making it impossible to test and experiment with the Enterprise-level servers. The Enterprise level servers have amazing scalability features that make it easy to sell to banks, insurance companies, and a range of others that require lots of processing power, redundancy, or both. Not having access to test with these types of features makes it impossible to sell thereby limiting Microsoft’s licensing revenue in a space that’s likely very valuable to Microsoft.

  7. jlynch says:

    Rob & Everyone,

    Please don’t take me wrong. I love Visual Studio. I live in Visual Studio. I eat, sleep and dream in Visual Studio. I just can’t see paying the additional money over the MSDN Universal for each developer every year. I also can’t see ordering one of each edition (Architect, Developer, Tester) and trading notebooks each time we need to use the new (very cool) role specific tools.

    As a “recurring software cost” it’s pretty hard to justify the increase in a small-to-medium sized business.

  8. Shane C says:

    It’s been said a few times that Visual Studio Team Edition is not really intended for you or I. It’s really intended for enterprise level development where people have definite roles. I’m hoping that strategy completely flops and they decide to start going after the small/middle buisness level and make some actual cash.

  9. Rob Caron says:

    You could choose to take advantage of special upgrade pricing ($1200; less for volume licensing) that’ll get you Team Suite instead. True, it’s more than what you pay today, but you’re also getting considerably more for your money, too. http://msdn.microsoft.com/howtobuy/vs2005/subscriptions/transition/

  10. NightVisionMiami says:

    I work for a medium sized business and my manager as well as the rest of the developing team use various “hats” in the development of different application for our business. I dislike the idea that Microsoft is just limiting you to have to pick 1 flavor instead of letting you choose the Visual Studio Team Suite. You still have to pay for it, so why not just include the Suite !!!!

  11. Jake Good says:

    then you bend over and buy Team Suite edition… :: sigh ::

  12. Jeff, you’re definitely not alone in this situation, and several of us face just that everyday.

    I think this is the reason why MS finally caved in and put forward the “Team Suite” edition, which seems to have all the features from the three original role-edition (architect+developer+tester), which would seem to be what people like you and me need. It is, however, a bit on the expensive side, as would be expected. (prices are here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/howtobuy/vs2005/subscriptions/)

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