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Deal or No Deal on New VS2010 Pricing

Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 and .NET 4 Beta 2 are generally available on Wednesday. MSDN subscribers got access to the downloads on Monday, Oct. 19. With the latest release comes news from Microsoft about a simplified packaging scheme for VS2010, updates to MSDN, and promotions to facilitate upgrades at the March 22, 2010 launch.

The simplified SKU lineup is down to four: Visual Studio 2010 Professional with or without MSDN, Visual Studio 2010 Premium with MSDN, and Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN.

This should be welcome news for developers--and we've heard this complaint from just about everybody—it was unclear which functionality was in which SKU. The "gotchas" after people downloaded or licensed the wrong versions, weren't fun. Microsoft has heard your pleas even though some questions linger.

Visual Studio Standard edition is no longer, starting with VS2010. Does this mean that the functionality in the Express tools will be expanded? That would be a deal, especially if these free tools supported Windows Mobile and SharePoint development. For now VS2010 beta 2 does not support smart device development. The SharePoint 2010 Designer will be free to licensed SharePoint users.

If VS2008 Standard users need to upgrade to the VS2010 Professional edition, which is $799 without MSDN, roughly $500 more, that's a steep price increase. Under the new scheme, Professional pricing remains the same at $1,199 with MSDN for new licenses and $799 with MSDN for renewals.

Visual Studio 2010 Team System is getting repackaged as a Premium offer, which rolls up most of the functionality in the former Team Suite editions -- Developer, Database, Test and Architect -- into a single SKU, which is $5,469 for new licenses and $2,299 for renewals. The new Premium package with MSDN is comparable to the suggested pricing of a single Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite edition, according to Microsoft. That sounds like a deal.

Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate Edition is the "comprehensive ALM suite," formerly Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Suite with MSDN Premium, which consists of multiple developer licenses and Team Foundation Server.

The Ultimate Edition pricing, which is $11,924 new and $3,841 for renewals, is an increase of 9 percent over VSTS 2008, says Dave Mendlen, senior director of developer marketing at Microsoft. "We did that because we've added a collection of deep architectural tools that transfer your architecture from whiteboard to living assets," he explains. The Ultimate Edition also offers new tools for team testing and an integrated development environment. "In effect, what we are saying is, 'there is a tremendous amount of research and development that has gone into this particular box so we've made a slight price increase."

The good news is that Team Foundation Server 2010, upon release, is included in all versions of Visual Studio 2010, according to a blog post by S. "Soma" Somasegar, senior vice president of the Developer Division:

"For small teams that need only core development features such as source control, bug tracking, and build automation, TFS Basic offers a simple, streamlined install and runs on server or client machines. Test Elements users will notice a more intuitive and responsive user interface."

Finally, MSDN Premium subscribers with licenses for Visual Studio Professional or Team Suite SKUs prior to March 22, 2010 can step up to a higher level of Visual Studio at the time of the VS 2010 launch for their current rate as part of the Ultimate Offer promotion. When the MSDN contract expires, developers can decide if they want to continue to use the higher end SKU and pay the higher price.

"What this means is that customers will get a lot more software than what they are paying for at the time of our launch," says Mendlen.

Microsoft may be packing more into offerings at the same price, but upgrading development environments every three years isn't cheap or easy, despite the great tools. The company offers DreamSpark, BizSpark and WebSpark programs to help qualified students, startups and Web developers get access to their tools and platforms. What more can they do?

"I think that there should be just one version of Visual Studio, it includes everything, and it should be $99, free for students," writes Steve Forte, chief strategy officer at Telerik, in an email. "This would get more installs for sure."

What's your take on the new VS2010 packaging and pricing scheme? Deal or no deal? Express your thoughts below or drop me a line at [email protected]

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 10/20/2009

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