Q&A: Early Look at Pricing, Licensing for Visual Studio 2005, Simplified MSDN Subscriptions

REDMOND, Wash., March 21, 2005 — With the much-anticipated release of Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 coming later this year, PressPass spoke with S. “Soma” Somasegar, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Developer Division, to learn more about how customers will benefit from the newest additions to Microsoft’s developer tools product line. Somaasegar also explained how customers will continue to receive MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network Subscription benefits after Microsoft ships Visual Studio 2005.

PressPass: What was Microsoft’s intent with Visual Studio 2005?

Somasegar: Our primary goal with Visual Studio 2005 was to execute on what we call “personalized productivity”–the notion that we should build tools tailored for the way our developer-tools customers actually do work. If we take a step back and look at our product line in Visual Studio .NET 2003, we have a lot to be proud of. According to Forrester Research, the Microsoft .NET Framework is chosen more often than J2EE in large enterprises. Our customers rave about the .NET Framework and Visual Studio .NET, and the benefits both the platform and tool have brought to their overall productivity and enterprise capability.

But, we can do better. We know that our customer base is pretty diverse. It runs the gamut from kids learning how to program in high school to decades-long veterans of enterprise development. We know intuitively that the right product for the high-school kid is definitely not the right product for the enterprise architect, and vice versa. We know that while we have much to be proud of, we can still do a lot better.

In Visual Studio 2005, our goal is to build “the right product, for every customer, at the right price.” To that end, we’re delivering a range of tools to satisfy the needs of our wide and varied customer base.

As an example, we’re building the Express Editions for novices. Using Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition, for example, a pure novice can learn how to program by doing something fun — perhaps building an application to manage their online auctions or a utility to organize their DVD collection. Using Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition, a user can build a personal Web site or blog, and be up and running in just a few minutes. These aren’t professional users, but they’re just as much “developers” in the literal sense as someone who has been in the industry for a long time and has been there, done that.

Throughout the product line, we’ve executed on this notion of “personalized productivity.” We want developers to realize that Microsoft is committed to providing them the tools, technologies and resources that foster innovation and provide guidance in solving complex business problems. We haven’t forgotten our “home base.” Visual Studio 2005 promises to not only simplify development of .NET applications, but also reduce the amount of code for common Windows and Web scenarios by 50 percent or more. Visual Studio 2005 will also feature tight integration of the .NET Framework common language runtime (CLR) with the database engine in Microsoft SQL Server 2005. And we’ve taken great strides in improving and innovating in programming languages.

PressPass: What is the Visual Studio 2005 Team System?

Somasegar: The Visual Studio 2005 Team System expands on Visual Studio to offer a set of tools that help software teams collaborate and communicate more efficiently. As teams get more specialized and geographically distributed, they need a way to communicate with one another and stay on the same page throughout the development process. Most of the tools people use today are too expensive and don’t have the proper level of integration we feel is necessary to really help solve this collaboration problem.

Our goal with Visual Studio Team System is to deliver a set of lifecycle tools that can be customized and extended so that organizations can work more efficiently. Team System includes tools for designing your applications, ensuring quality and performance of your code, and load testing your Web applications and services. Specifically, we’ve built three role-based products: Visual Studio Team Edition for Software Architects, Visual Studio Team Edition for Software Developers, and Visual Studio Team Edition for Software Testers. In addition, we’ve also built a Visual Studio Team Suite, which bundles all three of the role-based products.

For the first time in Microsoft’s Developer Division, we will also ship a server product — the Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server, a core component of Visual Studio Team System. Team Foundation Server is a collaboration server that includes asset management (source code control), work-item and issue tracking, integrated process guidance, project health and status reporting, and extensibility hooks into Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Project. Teams that use the Team Foundation Server will gain greater organizational efficiency and be able to better predict the results of their software development process.

We’ve also built add-ins into Microsoft Project and Microsoft Excel that will let you manage the project without having to install all of Visual Studio. This will be great for project managers who don’t need a full tools installation on their desktop machines.

Used together, we think the Visual Studio 2005 Team System will deliver a great lifecycle tools product for managing the end-to-end process of delivering software.

PressPass: How do you anticipate that Visual Studio Team System will help companies save money?

Somasegar: We think organizations that adopt Visual Studio Team System will see tremendous benefits not only in the ways in which their teams work together to deliver software, but also in their bottom line. Specifically, we see a number of areas where we expect this will be the case, including lower installation costs, lower operational and management costs, greater team efficiency ad productivity and more. Of course, we anticipate that our load-testing tools will also be much more cost effective than what’s on the market today.

In addition, we will ship at least two comprehensive process methodologies with the product. By aligning your company around either one of the methodologies we will include in the product or on a methodology you create yourself, we believe you will see immediate and tangible results in overall team productivity and project predictability. This, in turn, should result in a bottom-line savings for most companies.

PressPass: What are the target audiences for the various SKUs (StockKeeping Units)?

Somasegar: We’ve already talked about Team System and Express.

Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition is intended as a comprehensive development tool for professional developers working alone or in small teams, while Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition is intended as a flexible development tool for part-time or line-of-business application developers building Windows-based, Web or mobile applications. For the developer working with the Microsoft Office System, Microsoft offers Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the Microsoft Office System, the comprehensive development tool for professional developers building Office System solutions using Excel, Word and InfoPath.

PressPass: How is Microsoft working with new and existing customers to ensure a seamless transition to the new MSDN subscriptions?

Somasegar: We wanted to give customers enough time to appropriately plan and budget for the coming year. We really believe in providing as much transparency into our process as possible to help customers make those business decisions.

Most Visual Studio users receive Visual Studio through an MSDN subscription. Today, customers choose an MSDN subscription level and receive development and test licenses for Microsoft’s servers and applications along with an accompanying Visual Studio product. Customers will continue to receive these MSDN Subscription benefits with the new line of subscriptions which complement the Visual Studio 2005 product line.

Existing MSDN Universal subscribers should find tremendous pricing advantages in migrating to the Visual Studio Team System. Customers whose subscriptions are active upon Visual Studio 2005 product availability will automatically transition into a Visual Studio Team System role-based product, with additional upgrade pricing for the Visual Studio Team Suite.

Upon transitioning, customers will also enjoy the opportunity to renew their subscription and retain their existing pricing for all future renewals.

Customers who are not MSDN Universal subscribers today or whose subscriptions will lapse prior to Visual Studio 2005 product availability should obtain or renew their subscriptions so that they may take advantage of these promotional offers. In fact, we’ve just begun a series of promotions that will enable these customers to obtain, renew or upgrade to MSDN Universal at very good prices.

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