Visual Studio 2010 transition benefits: “the ultimate offer” – What you need to know

Visual Studio 2010 is about to come in few months (April 12th) and I have been receiving many, many, many questions around the new product family and the transition benefits.
I’ll answer some of them in this post and will probably update it later if I have additional recurring questions.

So before jumping on the product capabilities I want to spend 1 minute on Why Microsoft is changing the line-up.
As you already know, Visual Studio is the main developer tool to build software applications on the Microsoft platform. At the end of the day, we don’t really care about the IDE but more about the solution you are building, Visual Studio will come automatically if you have decided to use part of the Microsoft platform (from .NET to C++, Office to Sharepoint, embedded to Azure….).

People were a bit confused between the different editions of Visual Studio. As an example, does a developer need Visual Studio professional (the main IDE to write code) or a Team Developer? A developer may need some testing or modelling capabilities only available in the Team Test or Team Architect edition, so what is the recommended SKU ? As Visual Studio 2010 is extending the capabilities (test management, code visualisation ….) the right move was not to add more editions but to simplify the product family. We’ll have 3 levels of Visual Studio

  • Visual Studio 2010 Professional – the basic one

  • Visual Studio 2010 Premium – the standard one

  • Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate – the advanced one

You can notice that no edition contains “Team System” in the description or a job role (like Developer, Tester …).
The idea is that any edition can suit your needs. It’s up to you to look at the capabilities, what you want to achieve and your team maturity to point out the right level.

go on for a full description (click on “compare 2010 products”)

Visual Studio 2010 professional with MSDN will include

  • Visual Studio 2010 professional - the “editor” to write code on the Microsoft platform

  • The full Team Foundation Server (1 license of TFS per license of Visual Studio 2010 pro w/ MSDN)

    • TFS is the main repository to manage, integrate and offer a comprehensive reporting solution for

      • Source code management (no more VSS, CVS, Subversions, Clear Case…)

      • Project management (JIRA, “Excel file”)

      • Bug tracking (JIRA…)

      • Build management (Cruise control)

      • Test management

      • Requirement management

      • Project reporting ….

  • And of course we can't give you the server without an access to it 🙂 So each license of Visual Studio 2010 professional will include a CAL (Client Access License) to the TFS Server.

I would describe VS2010 Pro w/ MSDN as the “basic” edition because writing code and managing the project (source code, bug, tracking …) is the minimum you should do when building a software application

Visual Studio 2010 Premium with MSDN will include

  • Visual Studio 2010 professional with MSDN

  • Additional tools you may need when building solution using advanced User Experience (UX) technologies (Silverlight, WPF) -  aka the actual Expression Studio.

  • Writing solutions with VS2010 Pro and managing the project with TFS is already good but not enough. Before sharing code with the rest of the team who is checking the code quality? the code complexity? Who is managing the database?

    • Visual Studio 2010 Premium will include code quality tools (unit test, code profiler, code maintenability and complexity report known as “code metrics", static code analysis…)

    • Visual Studio 2010 Premium will include the database change management capabilities (schema and data generation and reverse engineering, Test data generation, unit test on DB objects, DB deployment by script or direct update)

This list of capabilities is not exhaustive but it gives you enough information to see that Visual Studio 2010 Premium is the “by default” edition for a developer. That why I would qualify this edition as “standard”

Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN will include

  • Visual Studio 2010 Premium with MSDN

  • Testing capabilities

    • Play and record the test - Web test, UI test, coded UI test, load test, manual test (most of needs from a specialist to a generate tester)

    • Manage and run the test – specific QA console to run the test outside of Visual Studio

    • Use virtual machines as part of the test environment (you can even capture the status of each virtual machines when reporting a bug so the developers can re-start the same virtual environment).

      • VS2010 Ultimate (and Test Essential too) will include Microsoft Test and Lab Manager (MTLM) and the capability to configure Lab Management. MTLM gives the rights to access a lab management environment but not the processor license to run the virtual environment. You will need an additional license of Visual Studio Team Lab Management 2010 (per processor).

      • MTLM (MTL Manager - "the client") doesn't require a license of MTL Management ("the server") to manage and run the test. It's only if you need to use a virtual environment that you need an additional license of MTL Management (per rocessor)

  • Architecture capabilities

    • UML support (Use Case, Activity diagram, sequence diagram …)

    • Code visualisation (useful when reviewing code and understanding legacy applications)

  • Support of non-Microsoft platform (if you are building solution on UNIX, Linux, MAC OS or using Eclipse)

    • Microsoft is supporting the integration to TFS so you can use the same repository (source code, versions, project management, test run and results, bug tracking …) regardless of the platform you are using.

As a developer may need some testing or code visualisation capabilities, Visual Studio Ultimate is not only for the testers and the architects but the developers too. Again think about capabilities and not edition “per role”. That why I would describe Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate as the advanced edition.

Ok so we are moving from Visual Studio 2008 with the different Team roles, Visual studio pro and MSDN editions into 3 level of Visual Studio 2010

  • Basic one – Visual Studio 2010 Professional with MSDN

  • Standard one – Visual Studio 2010 Premium with MSDN

  • Advanced one – Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN

But what happen at launch time (April 12th)? What is this “Ultimate offer”?

If you have an active license of (active means the SA – aka MSDN – is active and not expired)

  • Visual Studio 2008 Professional with MSDN Professional you will be converted into Visual Studio 2010 Professional with MSDN

    • Nothing new except TFS (server) and TFS CAL (1 license)

  • Visual Studio 2008 Professional with MSDN Premium will be automatically converted to Visual Studio 2010 Premium with MSDN

    • That's like being upgraded, at no extra cost, to Team Developer & Team Database (plus new capabilities)

  • Any Visual Studio 2008 Team edition (Test, Dev, Arch or DB) with MSDN Premium will be automatically converted to Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN

    • That's like being upgraded, at no cost, to Team Suite (plus new capabilities)

This "Auto upgrade" means you will get an edition with many more features than you have with your current Visual Studio edition for the duration of your subscription.

Different scenario to optimize this “Ultimate offer” - transition benefits

Scenario 1 - Do I have the right level of Visual Studio to maximise the benefits of the transition?

  • Who will need the Ultimate capabilities? Make sure they have a team edition today

  • Who will need Premium level? They should have a VS Pro w/ MSDN Premium license today

So, if you licensing model support the step-up mechanism (Open Value, Select and EA), please check if you should step up to the next level. Look at all your licenses and make a decision before April 12th (specifically for Open and Select customers)

Scenario 2 – anticipate your needs

Looking at the next 12 to 24 months, if you think you will use more of the MS platform or your team will get bigger (including dev's, testers and architects), you should plan for your growth by anticipating your needs. Even if you will not use the additional licenses at launch, it will be a cost effective solution to benefit from this automatic upgrade.


Additional information

  • If you are a Microsoft Certified partner, you will continue receiving the same value of Microsoft Development Tools benefits in the Microsoft Partner Network. 

Current Benefit

Benefit when Visual Studio 2010 launched (April 12th 2010)

Visual Studio 2008 Professional with MSDN Premium

Visual Studio 2010 Professional with MSDN Premium
This subscription benefit level will be maintained for Certified Partners, though it will no longer be available for sale in the Visual Studio 2010 product offering.

Visual Studio Team System 2008 Development Edition with MSDN Premium

Visual Studio 2010 Premium with MSDN

For more information:

    • It’s important to understand that, as a Microsoft Certified partner, you will not have access to the Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate edition. So what you should do (before April 12th 2010) is purchase additional Visual Studio 2008 Team Developer with MSDN Premium licenses (using the 20% promotion available for the certified partners) and enjoy the benefits of the transition. As these licenses will be "commercial", they will be impacted by the auto-upgrade. To use the 20% discount promotion (on Open and Open Value licensing), please contact your reseller. The product name should contain "PtnrOnly" for Partner Only (you must be a Microsoft Certified or Gold Certified to be eligible).

  • Where can I download Visual Studio 2010 beta 2 ?

  • What of those with current Team Suite 2008? Does a 2008 Team Suite convert to 2010 Ultimate?

    • Active licenses of Visual Studio Team Suite 2008 with MSDN will be converted to Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN at launch time

Please contact me for any additional information
Email :


Comments (26)
  1. John Morrigan says:

    Thanks for the detailed info.

    By any chance, do you know if any RTM edition of the upcoming VS2010 will be available to Technet subscribers?

  2. Hi John,

    Technet will not include any edition of Visual Studio.

    the big difference between TECHNET and MSDN is that TECHNET is for evaluating products, you can’t test or build solutions with the products coming from the TECHNET subscription. That’s why Visual Studio is not and will not be included.

    check this link to compare MSDN and TECHNET

    it explicitly say that testing and development are for MSDN only.


  3. Grant Palin says:

    What of those with current Team Suite 2008? Does a 2008 Team Suite convert to 2010 Ultimate?

  4. Hi Grant,

    Active licences of Visual Studio Team Suite 2008 with MSDN will be converted to Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN at launch time

  5. Brian Buck says:

    Will there be an edition of Visual Studio 2010 available without an MSDN subscription? (Like you can currently buy Standard or Professional without MSDN.)

  6. Hi Brian,

    of course, you will be able to buy the stand alone edition of Visual Studio 2010 professional (i.e. without MSDN)


  7. Luc Cluitmans says:

    Am I correct in deducing that customers of VS 2008 professional with MSDN professional will actually be *downgraded* automatically? VS 2010 Professional seems to be missing some features that are included in VS 2008 professional, for instance the basic unit testing support and some of the database support. Of course a more detailed description of what is included in VS 2010 professional may help clarify this issue…

  8. Hi Luc,

    at launch, active licences of Visual Studio 2008 Professional with MSDN Pro will be converted to Visual Studio 2010 Professional with MSDN.

    This new edition is equivalent (in capabilities and benefits) of Visual Studio 2008 Professional with MSDN Professional.

    So you will have Unit test or database support.

    For a complete description of what is included in VS 2010 Pro, please visit the following link and click on "Compare 2010 Products"

    Visual Studio 2010 Professional with MSDN will contain additional benefits such as

    – a full licence of TFS

    – a CAL to TFS

    so, even if you have no "auto upgrade" from VS Pro 2008 with MSDN Pro, you will have the same capabilities plus a full access to TFS. If you licencing model support the "step up" mechanism (Open Value, select or EA), you can convert your MSDN Pro into a MSDN Premium edition to maximise the benefits of the transition.



  9. Alex Thomas says:

    In Nov 2008 I installed VS2008 Team Suite trial edn to investigate the web and load testing.

    Then I heard of the ultimate offer.

    At work I renewed my VS 2008 Team Arch Edn MSDN on 31st Dec 2009.

    The trail edition expires end of Jan, so is there a bridge whereby I can use web and load testing in VS2008 until the launch? Is using the VS 2010 beta the only way?



  10. Darren Bennett says:

    I’m extremely disappointed with the transition offer for Certified Partners. As an ISV Certifier Partner, I would have thought it would have been in Microsoft’s interest to provide its ISV partners with the same "Ultimate Offer" as the others. – Darren

  11. Hi Daren,

    As an ISV partner you will continue to receive the same value of Microsoft Development Tools benefits in your Microsoft Partner Network (+ TFS as part of VS 2010 Premium).

    I hope you realize the value (and savings) of the products you are eligible to use as an ISV partner.

    Building software solution is your main activity and I wish you company is as profitable as possible. Visual Studio is probably your main IDE to support your development effort. Thought the Microsoft certification, Microsoft is providing you free access to 10 (up to 35 if you’re Gold) Visual Studio Team Developer (soon 2010 Premium) licenses. This is a great value as building solution on Visual Studio is your core business.

    What you need to do is to complement the tooling if you are interested in the testing or code visualization/modeling capabilities. You can do that at any time using the 20% promotion or enjoy the benefits of the transition at launch time (April 12th 2010).

    The real cost when building software solutions (as an ISV or a “final” user) is not the software but the people. Not investing in the proper tools will not help being more successful or reduce the total cost. Do you know that the average cost of a developer is around 1 000$ per day (including position and salary), so spending an extra 4 000$ for a proper tool is not even 2% of the developer annual cost (1 000$ * 220 days -> 220 000$).


  12. To alex


    If I understand correctly, you have now a licence of VS 2008 Team Architect (renewed in Dec 2009) but you would like to use the web and load testing capabilities too.

    two options

    – you  can use the VS2010 Beta 2 and then RC and wait for the RTM (April 12th 2010) to transition your Team Architect into VS 2010 Ultimate

    – you can step up your Team Architect into Team Suite now and use the full Team Suite 2008 capabilities


  13. Kenneth says:

    My current subscription (Team Developer) gives me the TFS Workgroup edition which comes with 5 CAL. With the ultimate offer, I’m given the full TFS, but now only 1 CAL.

    So do I to buy 4 CAL for TFS 2010 for my 4 "non Visual Studio" users that access the sharepoint site adding Work Items, viewing reports and so on?



  14. Robert Carnecky says:

    As a developer in a small team, I only need the IDE, the C++ compiler and the profiler (all of them look really impressive on the release candidate, by the way!) – for everything else we already have a solution. Is there a way to get it cheaper than buying/upgrading to a premium edition with a MSDN subscription? I already own VS 2008 Professional without MSDN.

    I understand your approach of dividing the features into three classes, it’s just that I don’t agree on which features are "basic" and which are "advanced". And also the price difference of 600% for going from "basic" (pro without MSDN) to "standard" (premium with MSDN) seems a bit high to me.

  15. Hi Robert,

    in VS 2010 Premium you have more capabilities than the only profiler (DB management, code metric, Expression ….).

    If you are just looking at VS Pro (IDE for C++ development) + compiler then you are not making the most of the VS 2010 Premium edition and the value proposition is lower for you.

    I understand your comment but if you look at the time you will spend in analysing the code (outside of VS 2010 Premium code analysis), attaching the code quality check to the build and check-in or integrating open-source solutions … you’ll probably be at a higher cost then purchasing VS 2010 Premium.

    Remember that your time is the most costly ressource (US$ 1000 per day ? – including salary and position) and the tools are just here to support you.



  16. Clement says:

    For Visual Studio 2008 Team System development edition, do we have a choice to get Visual Studio 2010 Premium with MSDN instead? Or it is a force upgrade?

  17. the transition is automatic (Team Dev will become VS 2010 Ultimate) and with no extra cost.

    at renew time, you will have the opportunity to keep the Ultimate level or renew down to VS 2010 Premium.



  18. John says:

    Is there any deadline for purchasing VS 2008 Pro/MSDN Premium in order to be eligible for the 2010 Premium upgrade?  I read on one source that you must have a VS license/MSDN Premium subscription on or before March 22, 2010.  I have not been able to confirm that (or any date for that matter) from any other source.

    My interpretation of the offer is "VS2008 Pro w/ MSDN Premium must be purchased before the VS 2010 launch (4/12/2010)"

    Can you clarify/confirm?


  19. Hi John,

    the launch date for Visual Studio 2010 has slipped from March 22nd to April 12th.

    3 dates – 3 scenarios

    1) between now and April 12th

    – you can "step up" your current licenses into the level you want (MSDN Pro to MSDN Premium to MSDN Premium to a Team edition) so you will maximise the benefits of the transitions (only available in Open Value, Select and Enterprise Agreement).

    – you can purchase any Visual Studio 2008 edition (end enjoy the transition)

    2) between April 12th and April 30th

    – too late for the current licenses, they will be automaticaly transitioned to Visual Studio 2010

    – you can still purchase additional visual studio 2008 licenses (on any licensing mode – FPP (box), Open, Select or Enterprise Agreement)

    3) After May 1st

    – you can only purchase Visual Studio 2008 licenses if you have a current EA (Enterprise Agreement) that include some Visual Studio 2008 licenses. You can then order any additional Visual Studio 2008 as long as you have ordered the same type/level before.

    – for any other licensing mode (FPP, Open, Select) you can only order the new visual Studio 2010.

    Hope this help

  20. Jack says:

    In the keynote for the vs launch i heard towards the end the person giving the speech say this offer is extended to the end of the month, but i can’t seem to find any information on the extension and the conditions anywhere. Do you have any knowledge of this? As a new customer (if possible), what would i need to purchase in order to get the upgrade to Ultimate?

  21. Hi Jack,

    the offer is not "extended", you current licenses were automaticaly transitioned to VS 2010 on April 12th but you can still buy VS 2008 until April 30th (any licensing mode) and enjoy the benefits of the "Ultimate offer". In any case, VS 2010 is not on the April’s price list so nobody can buy VS 2010 before May 1st

    so if you are looking for Vs 2010 ultimate, you should purchase now (before april 30th) a license of Visual Studio 2008 Team Developer (ask for an OPEN agreement, you are eligibile with only license and it cheaper than buying a box).



  22. Erik says:

    Hi, Jihad,

    Thanks for the details on this offer.  I was going to take advantage of the "extension" to this offer that was mentioned during the launch keynote, but when I go to I am only presented with the opportunity to purchase the VS 2010 subscriptions at the standard prices.   How do I take advantage of this offer when purchasing through the MSDN site?  Or do I need to go through a Microsoft Partner to be eligible for this promotion?

  23. Hi Erik,

    is looks like you have to go through a Microsoft Partner 🙂

    the cost is the same than purchasing on the MSDN site.



  24. NoelS says:

    How does one get TFS?  Is it included still?

  25. Hi Noel,

    TFS is included in any edition of visual Studio with MSDN.

    If you're not a MSDN subscriber, you can purchase the server TFS itself and a CAL (Client access license) to connect.



  26. umanga abeyrathna says:

    i want to know what  is the most suitable method for creating projects using  2010 vb express edition

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