Sunday, March 27, 2005

I'm Almost Scared To Post Anything..

Concerning the new Visual Studio Team System pricing, as well as the changes to MSDN Universal subscriptions. There are so many people that feel passionately about both sides that blog servers around the world are starting to crumble under the weight of the comments. (Well, maybe not really crumble, but you get the general metaphor idea).

However, since I am writing this post, you have probably guessed that I am going to make some comments. I'm also going to try and provide you with some links to other blogs which I feel you might find interesting, and I may even insert my opinion a time or two. I've spent several hours trying to read every blog and comment I could find, and I finally gave up, as there was too much information.

First off, a couple of links that will explain the current pricing scheme. I'm not going to try and list it all here, because it's not exactly cut and dry. The following blogs contain what I consider the best overall picture of the new pricing scheme

Rick LaPlante - VSTS Licensing

It is in essence the “most” you would pay for the products on the Open License plan. Also remember that there are more volume license plans available and if you are purchasing in greater volumes, the price comes down substantially.

Rick provides a nice, concise chart of the pricing schemes. I did find it a little confusing though. A quick look at this chart tells you two things: paying retail price is INSANE, and it is much better to upgrade.

Mike Gunderloy - VS2005 Pricing and Licensing
This is the best breakdown of the pricing I have seen yet. It is very thorough and detailed, and should answer any questions you have concerning the pricing.

Ok, at this point, I'm going to assume you have read the above two blogs, and have a general understanding of the pricing situation. I'm mostly going to focus on MSDN Universal subscribers, because that is what I am. Basically, you can upgrade to any of the 3 role-based products (Architect, Developer, Tester) for free, and then renew every year for $2299, which is about what you were probably paying anyway. The blogs above make mention that you can upgrade to VS Team Suite from MSDN Universal. According to a comment I read made by Prashant Sridharan, that special upgrade price would be approximately $2299. And then your yearly renewal would be $4598. Basically, they are doing a "Get 3 For The Price Of 2" option.

If you didn't grasp it, MSDN subscriptions are changing as well. Microsoft is trying to promote MSDN subscriptions as part of buying VS2005 or VSTS. There are now two MSDN levels: Professional and Premium. VS2005 can be bought with either, but VSTS can only be purchased with the Premium level MSDN.

Is your head hurting yet?

Something that has a lot of people outraged is that the Team Foundation Server is NOT included in any of the above pricing or with the MSDN subscription. The Team Foundation Server, and associated CALs (Client Access License) must be purchased seperate. Pricing of the server is approximately $2799, with $500 per CAL sold in packs of five. However, the MSDN packages do include one CAL. I did see a comment where there will be an 180 day trial of both Team Suite and Team Foundation Server.

OK, my opinions, for what it is worth.

Personally, Microsoft did what I was expecting, which was change their model. Someone had mentioned to me at Tech Ed last year they might go this direction, so I was not caught off guard. As far as cost, it was also what I was expecting. I’ll admit, I was hoping to be able to upgrade to the Team Suite for about 1K less, but in the grand scheme of things I don’t think it is that big a deal. But Microsoft, as a company, is entitled to change their model if they want to. I don’t think the fallout is going to be near as catastrophic as some people think.

I personally have no problem with Team Foundation server being a separate product. I understand some of the argument of some MSDN Universal subscribers, that they expect it to be included, but again, MSDN Universal does not exist any more. Now there is MSDN Premium, and in actuality you are now buying a development tool and getting the MSDN subscription, as opposed to buying the subscription and getting the development tool.

So, the price-point and all were pretty much where I expected them. I figured the price would go up. So I'm not that up in arms about it, at least not yet. If I'm not able to convince management to shell out the extra money not covered in the budget, then I'll be a little unhappy. Which leads me into...

I do think, however, that maybe there should have been a better way of communicating this out. I don’t have an answer for what that better way is, but the way it was presented has apparently shocked the mess out of people. And that is where all the negative feedback is coming from. Unfortunately, I can’t think of a good way to damage control that. I think the biggest thing is that some people had already planned their budgets for this year, based on money from previous years, and assuming they would be able to get the latest product. I know I am in this boat. I’m going to have to convince management to pull some extra money from somewhere in order to get the level of VSTS I want, because we based renewal money on what we have been paying, and did not anticipate the increase. I’ll bet you if people had been given an idea of what to expect last October/November, when they were still working on budgets, the outcry would not be near as bad.

If nothing else, all the interest in the pricing has turned me on to some new blogs to start reading. Here are some links to some other blogs which contain some good insight and interesting comments:

Alex Lowe - Team System: wading through the blogosphere comments....

Eric Sink - Comments on the pricing of Team System

Chris Menegay - Team System Pricing

Dave Bost - Adding My $.02 to the Team System Pricing Debate

Jeff's Junk - re: Microsoft to developers: Here are the toys, now let the grown-ups play

Developer - VS 2005 Pricing and Licensing (sucks)

Eric Bowen - Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server NOT included in MSDN subscription!

Eric Bowen - Microsoft responds (and still doesn't get it)

Eric Bowen - Scoring the Visual Studio 2005 pricing and packaging debate: Everybody's a little bit right.

Like I said, I quit reading after a while, because I was getting overloaded. If you've got a blog you'd like me to check out and possibly link up to, email me the link or add it to the comments of this blog. Also, if I have quoted some of the pricing or information incorrectly (like I said, my eyes were starting to glaze over), please let me know and I'll research it more.

I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend!

62 Comments:

Anonymous Prashant Sridharan said...

Wanted to comment about the communication mechanism for getting this info out...

1. Most of our enterprise accounts had been briefed about this prior to the announcement. We've been doing those briefings under NDA for about 3+ months (some even longer). Most of those accounts also have account managers and solution specialists.

2. I've gone over the model at pretty much every talk I've given at pretty much every conference I've attended since last May when we first announced in San Diego. If you've seen me speak, you knew about the transition to a single role product, the upgrade to the Suite, and that "TFS is always sold separately".

3. Our Web site stinks. We're fixing that. Mea culpa.

4. The bottom line is that pricing is VERY much tied to your individual circumstances. We're much more transparent than other tools vendors, but at the end of the day, the volume in which you do or do not buy, the fact that you may or may not be an ISV, the fact that you may or may not be a SI/consultant/partner, or any number of other circumstances can substantially alter how much you pay for the SKUs. Only a very, very small number of people pay our full retail price for the high end product.

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Anonymous Josh Carlisle said...

Team System is a great product but MS missed the mark on its marketting of it:

http://viewfusion.com/blog/jcarlisle/archive/2005/03/24/312.aspx

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