Response to low MSDN pricing

DonXML was discussing the various prices he has seen on the web for MSDN subscriptions, and being from MSDN I was a little curious. I asked around, and it turns out we have a canned response to this question that you might find helpful (or not).

    The sheer volume and ever changing number of offers, resellers, businesses, marketing programs and selling that takes place on the global commerce stage precludes Microsoft from being in a position to validate every MSDN subscription offer in the market. As is the basis for any general purchasing decision you may make, it is in your best interest to thoroughly investigate who you are buying anything from. Generally speaking, we have found that the following are some common sense warning signs to look out for (but by no means limited to)...

  • A price that is "too good to be true"
  • Suspicious methods of delivery and/or payment requirements
  • Retail software distributed in jewel cases only, or brown boxes, rather than full-color retail boxes which clearly display the "authentic product" markers such as the tamper resistant Microsoft Authentic Product Holograms or Foils etc. that are a part of normal Microsoft product packaging
  • Software marked with a phrase, such as "For distribution with a new PC only" or "Special CD - for licensed customers only," that does not accurately describe the transaction

  • When you order an individual MSDN Subscription, you should receive an MSDN box with an activation card inside. You can use the information on the card to activate your subscription online, via phone, fax or mail. If a reseller does not send you an MSDN box with an activation card, they are not following the standard delivery for MSDN Subscriptions.

    Finally, there are sites designed to provide education on what you should receive when acquiring software licenses or how to tell if what you are seeing is genuine Microsoft software - Visit to learn more about how Microsoft licensing programs work and the options that are available to consumers. Visit to learn how to tell if what you are looking at is genuine Microsoft software.

Not sure if that will help, but we are generally curious about any price that is more than 10% discounted off the price from MSFT (although this is certainly possible). Personally, I would be reassured by the comment posted in response DonXML's post from someone (Dave Dombrowski) who bought from vlane and was happy with what they received. Of course, the free PocketPC with subscription deal currently on from MSFT sounds pretty good too 🙂

Comments (4)

  1. DonXML says:

    Thanks for the feedback. I’ll post it on my blog, and try to educate the masses as much as possible. IMHO MSDN Subscriptions should be very hard to pirate, considering they are delivered via Microsoft. That being said, the only thing I could think of that could make up the pricing difference was some sort of licensing difference.


  2. Dave Dombrowski says:

    You are quite right. I initially heard of vlane (and a recommendation of eBay) through some comments on a dotnetweblog. I then investigated – as best as I could – looking into 3rd party reviews of vlane along with their website.

    First off, eBay had one MSDN Universal for sale by a single individual who had several bad reviews. I immediately decided this was not my style. (I explained in Don’s blog that my foremost intent is to be 100% legal).

    Several reviews about vlane suggested that they are reputable. While their homepage contained different navigation, a Google search revealed a link (

    that gave me an explanation for their pricing – they handle the activation Duncan describes here.

    Nonetheless my instincts told me to carefully watch this purchase. I put it on a credit card with a $1500 line and could view everything regarding it online.

    4/22: online purchase from vlane. 4/23: credit line blocked in the amount of $1150, notified from vlane of activation. Also, I eventually saw MSDN mailed out my initial shipment of DVDs and a separate mailing of my rebate coupon. 4/24: contacted via email by MSDN of my subsciption activation and they mailed out my card. Now… most importantly (for me) is 4/27: credit card billed for $1135.

    I noted this in Don’s blog and went into more detail here because I would strongly recommend this sort of detail to anyone in an online purchase of this large amount. Hey, at least I could always contest it if these guys are NOT legit.

    A few more details:

    (1) $300 rebate: I mentioned "vlane" and "purchased online" in my phone call to MSDN regarding proof of purchase. The support person seemed to know of them and told me to fill in their name on the retailer line of my coupon.

    (2) Pocket PC. As part of generating my online coupon for it I needed to enter my MSDN ID. Things

  3. Dave Dombrowski says:

    Well, guess I was being long-winded!

    I was only pointing out that all my experiences so far suggest I am a full MSDN Universal subsciber for a full year.

    I also wanted to point out that (1) I do not work for vlane and that your ‘mileage may vary’ and (2) that my main intent has always been to be 100% legal. I see no claims of piracy anywhere, but if MS does feel this way, I’ll gladly do right by them because evan at $2500, I’m still making out. XP Pro, VS 2003, $300 rebate and free Pocket PC.

    I don’t usually use my full name, but when Don asked for personal experiences I thought it would lend credability. Duncan, I realize you work for MSDN and if somehow I am not doing right by Microsoft, I hope I can rectify things.

  4. Dave, if you read this… because you didn’t leave a URL… it certainly seems like you are doing right by Microsoft… no worries!

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