March 22, 2005

VSTS...Hell, no... [Updated]

I've worried publicly about the pricing of XNA Studio in the past. When I first heard about the pricing for Visual Studio Team System, I was publicly pissed. Now, I'm extremely pissed.

I received the following comments on my second blog entry:
I think the VS2005 Professional + MSDN Premium subscription gets you more or less everything MSDN Universal does today, sans any of the Team Edition stuff, and runs around the same price as MSDN Universal today. I'm recommending that my company stick with that option. We can continue to use 3rd-party unit test, SCC, and build tools, no big huhu. Hopefully they don't yank FXCop, the Free Version, though ;O.
# posted by Anonymous : 3:54 PM
That is correct. "VS05 Professional Edition + MSDN Premium Subscription" is intended to be a superset of what you have today. And, it's lower priced than what you have today in MSDN/U.

Also, don't forget that if you have an active MSDN/U subscription when we ship the product, we will automatically transition you to a no-cost upgrade to your choice of one of the VSTS role-based SKUs (Architect, Developer, or Tester). We'll also give you pretty good upgrade pricing to the Suite.

In addition, if you are NOT an MSDN/U subscriber right now, we've begun a promotional period where you can purchase, renew, or upgrade to MSDN/U right now at an even bigger cost savings.

The bottom line for us was that we wanted to reward those customers who bet on us early.
# posted by Prashant Sridharan - Microsoft : 10:14 PM
Also forgot to add that each of the client SKUs includes a CAL.
# posted by Prashant Sridharan - Microsoft : 10:16 PM

Well, let's examine these claims, shall we? This page has the estimated retail pricing for VSTS, and this page has the feature breakdown.

With MSDN Universal, you got everything that Microsoft had to offer developers. With Visual Studio 2005 Professional + MSDN Premium, you aren't giving them the Team System Foundation Server and you're not giving them two of the three Team System SKU's. If they don't sign up early, they're not getting any of the Team System SKU's in that bundle.

Plus, if you're a developer who wants to own his software instead of rent it via an MSDN subscription, you get screwed, because Team System is only available through an MSDN subscription.

Now for the insanity. You've done a wonderful job of concealing this one. I've shown the breakdown (Developer, Architect and Tester) to several developers, and all have said that you essentially need all 3 to effectively do your job as a developer. Of course, charging them $10,939 retail ($8,079 volume license) for that functionality for one year is completely insane. Dropping the price to $4,598 retail for renewing is like using lube the second time you screw someone up the ass. Yeah, it hurts less, but they still painfully remember the first time.

Well, I'm going to use that $10,939 per seat as a baseline and see what I can get for that price.

Visual Studio 2005 Professional: $799
Perforce (Software+CAL): $800 (covers source control requirements of TS)
FogBUGZ 4.0: $99 (covers bug tracking requirement of TS)
NUnit: Free (covers unit testing requirement of TS)
Compuware Devpartner Studio Professional Edition: $2,300 (covers static code analysis, code coverage, profiling requirements)
Rational Rose: $2,495 (covers most of TS-Architect)
TestLog Test Case Management Software: $99

That's $6,592 right now, and I've already covered quite a bit, but guess what? After I spend that $6,600, I own that software. I don't have to pay yearly to keep using it. Most come with a year of upgrades included. Oh, and they're not v1 products.

I know that Microsoft wants to move to a subscription model for software, and I understand exactly how tempting that is, but these are the tools we use to build software for YOUR platform. A construction worker doesn't lease his hammer.

UPDATE 3/23/2005: Here is a summary of the costs from an MSDN blog. The Team Foundation Server is $2,799, and you can get the Team Edition SKU's sans MSDN subscription if you buy 5 or more copies through Open Licensing.

And as for the comment made about "you don’t get license to deploy any server w/ MSDN today, only for dev/test/evaluation use," that is true. However, your MSDN copies of the development tools and the Office products were licensed for production use.

The whole purpose of MSDN was to provide developers with the products and information that they needed to effectively do their jobs. Now it looks like a profit center, not a developer resource.

I just can't believe that Microsoft is making it this much harder for smaller ISV's to develop on their products, especially since we now have Apple and Linux growing as viable alternatives to develop for. Personally, I don't want to develop for Linux or Apple. I like programming on Windows for Windows. What I don't like is that subscribing to MSDN to get the Team Suite costs twice as much as my mortgage for my home in Utah does for the first year, and almost as much for each year after the first.

Yes, that's home mortgage payment for my old home in Utah (that I'm still paying on because my wife wants to keep it) is $400 a month. If you want something more contemporary, my rent with utilities down here is about $700 a month. Well, what do you know...Team Suite still costs more than my apartment. Team Suite for year 1 costs as much as my apartment, my utilities, my transportation to and from work, my magazine subscriptions, my Coca-Cola and what I spend on lunch FOR ONE YEAR! Team Suite costs more than 20% of my current annual gross income.

Anyone else remember back during the "Windows/OS/2" wars when Microsoft was giving away their stuff to developers so that they'd develop for Windows?

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