April 12, 2005

Disconnect Found

Well, I think I finally figured out where the disconnect is on the Visual Studio Team System pricing fiasco. Microsoft has three compelling products, each at three compelling prices, that they're trying to bundle into a bundle that is less than compelling.

Visual Studio 2005 Professional is compelling. We get a better IDE, faster compilers, more language features, and a better price. $799 is a wonderful price point for what you are getting.

The Team Foundation Server is compelling by itself. For about $2,700, you get the server product, which has bug tracking, source control, project management tools, work item tracking, the works. That's a one-time cost. Even assuming that this is the only server in Microsoft's server line that doesn't come with 5 CAL's to start, that's a good deal. Pay $500 for the CAL, and those features plug into Visual Studio 2005 Professional, according to the gentleman I spoke with last night.

So, my client cost is $1,299. Team Suite's public price is $10,939. Sure, you can try to dicker down to a lower price should your company buy in bulk, but this is your baseline public message, and as such, it is what I must work with.

Microsoft has to show that the extra that you get for your $9,640 is worth it for people who buy their tools.

Now, for MSDN subscribers, the debate is even more cut and dried. An MSDN Premium subscription is $2,499 for one year, and is an excellent price for what you get. At that price, you get Visual Studio 2005 Professional, Microsoft's other language products (FoxPro, MASM) and test/development licenses for almost every single product that Microsoft makes. You also get Visio, Project and Office licensed for production use.

So, you've got the $2,499 for MSDN Premium and $500 for the Team Foundation CAL. That's $2,999. Microsoft now has to make the case that these relatively simple features integrated into Visual Studio are worth a difference of nearly $8,000 per seat. Even looking at the Team System for Developer SKU, which is $5,469, that's a difference of $2,470. So let's look at it like $2,470 is the difference.

Architect is the easiest one to make a case for, because that ends up being a savings of $25 off the listed price for Rational Rose.

Developer isn't as easy. Compuware's DevParter Studio is a known quantity that fulfills 99% of the difference, but DevPartner Studio is still nearly $200 cheaper than Team Studio. Plus you're "tossing in" PREfast, a tool that's been in use at Microsoft since before I started there and has paid for itself more times than not. When people accused Microsoft of having secret API's and that's why your programs were so much faster/better/able to mash potatoes, they should have been shown this. You could have avoided the court rulings.

Test is a joke. You get the load test system, a test case manager, and unit tests. So, you're competing with free (NUnit, CxxUnit, etc.), $99 (TestLog), and ACT (currently in Visual Studio .NET 2003 Enterprise Architect).

So to sum up, Team Foundation is compelling, MSDN is compelling, and Visual Studio 2005 Professional is compelling. Your combo SKU's, however, are atrocious. There's still time to fix the message and fix the problem, but it's going to require a concerted effort on your part. Remember, I'm test. I'm used to delivering bad news and I'm used to continually delivering the bad news until it's fixed or it's shipped.

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