The version of Visual Studio that I use on a daily basis is Professional, and I must admit I've never hankered after anything in the other versions. The key differences are that in Premium and Ultimate have more debugging and profiling tools. Professional has standard unit testing, whereas Premium includes a few more tools and Ultimate has a whole raft of testing and profiling tools.
Next, Premium and Ultimate both have a collection of frankly irrelevant database tools. On the modelling side, with Ultimate you get all of that but not in Professional and Premium and if you're into modelling, why would you not use a stand-alone tool? Ultimate also gives you something called "Lab Management". In summary, it's not obvious what you get with Ultimate or Premium that's so amazing, or that certainly can't be filled with, as alluded to, third-party tools.
This gives us three remaining MSDN variants to look at. Visual Studio Test Professional is designed for testers who are "embedded" into the test cycle. We haven't spoken much about TFS here but there's a shared toolset for managing the quality aspect of development. Like Test Professional, if you're in this area you're pretty specialised. Confused yet? You probably are. This arrangement frankly is not pretty. Here is some rough street pricing: Another thing on the MSDN side is that you also get some Azure usage, details of which can be found here although, as we're about to see, the benefits are paltry.
BizSpark BizSpark is a programme to encourage startup businesses to build their solutions on the Microsoft stack. I say "encourage" - BizSpark is firmly from the "your first hit is free" school of marketing. It would be non-trivial to switch away from the Microsoft stack once your startup was up and running. To short circuit the discussion, BizSpark helpfully says that you get access to most of the licences available in Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN, although confusingly they they go on to explicitly state that it is Visual Studio Ultimate that you get.
See this page. There is no clearly given limit to the number of users on you can have on the programme, presumably because the eligibility requirements act as a natural ceiling. Once your membership is up, you "graduate" from the programme and buy your licenses at a discount. A caveat laden discount - follow the single asterisk on this page.
Where BizSpark gets more interesting is on the production server licensing. Remember, with the other programmes thus far you cannot use the licenses in production environments - they are internal use only. You can use the licenses providing you are not just exposing out core functionality e.
You can either hosting yourself or using a BizSpark partner, but I'm unsure why you would want to use a partner. A strong suggestion from the site is that you use the Azure benefit that comes with the MSDN subscriptions. This is actually pretty lame - that's not much horsepower for running a decent sized app on the Microsoft stack. In fact, on the graduation page above the caveat implies that they expect people to be running three front-end boxes and one SQL boxes.
At the very least, you're looking at five or six times the free Azure limit. Although other virtual private server ["VPS"] providers come in cheaper, Azure and Rackspace Cloud are roughly the same in terms of build. It's also worth noting that Rackspace do their own startup program. Still, none too shabby for a free programme. WebsiteSpark WebsiteSpark is the final programme that we'll look at and it's designed to "professional Web developers and designers".
Like BizSpark, it's a three year program and also like BizSpark, there's no entry cost. The eligibility requirements are that you must have less than ten employees and be a professional services firm specialising in providing Web development and design.
You can also be a "one man band". Interestingly, the requirements are missing any requirement in terms of length of time trading, being of private ownership or having a ceiling on revenue unlike BizSpark. As part of the programme you get three licences of Visual Studio Professional, one license of Expression Studio and two of Expression Web. Virtual or physical boxes are supported.
Competing platforms It's been a while since I sat down and really thought about the cost of developing solutions on Microsoft - throughout my career it's been mainly what I've done - but it's clear that the open source route is not only cheaper, but far less complicated and way less risky. Get one subtle rule of these programmes wrong and you can be into a big cash flow problem.
This is definitely going to be an interesting decade or so for Microsoft. Conclusion In summary, the easiest way to get developer tools from Microsoft is to be a student.
Anyone in a startup would be mad not to look at BizSpark - ignoring that is just leaving money on the table. If you're a one-man-band or a small web design shop, WebsiteSpark looks pretty good. Assuming you're not any of those things, it comes down to how big a shop you are. If you're pretty big already, or have aspirations, playing nicely with the Microsoft Partner Network competency track would make sense.
OK - now enjoy Matthew Baxter-Reynolds is an independent software development consultant, trainer and author based in the UK. His favourite way to communicate with like-minded technical people is Twitter: This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our journalism is independent and is in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative.
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Jul 17, · Buy a Visual Studio monthly subscription This is the most flexible way to access Visual Studio Professional and any new versions that are released while you stay subscribed. You also get access to Azure DevOps and Team Foundation Server. For more information, see how to buy Visual Studio Professional and Visual Studio Enterprise cloud. It’s a complete package to build your next great app for any platform with the power of Visual Studio and the rich benefits from your subscription. Includes access to core Microsoft software, Azure credits and discounted pricing, collaboration services, technical training, professional support, and more/5(5). One other short-term con is that each enterprise can have a better operational price as a result of they should prepare staff within the guidelines and rules of GST alternatively rent professionals. The latter course might be equally costly. For small enterprise, who had been freed from the shackles of tax regime, it means start fast on their ft.
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