License the new TFS 2012 Agile Planning Boards


Team Foundation Server 2012 introduces a number of new features.  One highlight is the redesigned Web Access which includes new Agile Planning tools.   See these products in action here!

Note that the standard, updated Web Access is part of TFS 2012 and licensed via the TFS CAL (just as it was in earlier versions of TFS).  However, the new Backlog/Spring Management features, located on the updated Web Access site, require an additional license.  Once you have the appropriate license, the features can be enabled via TFS user permission settings, which are not enabled by default.

More specifically, with a TFS CAL you can access/use any part of the Web Access interface EXCEPT the “Product Backlog Tab” where backlog management and Agile planning is done.  To use these features, you personally must be licensed with VS Test Professional ($), VS Premium ($$) or VS Ultimate ($$$).

So, these screens/features DO require one of the additional VS licenses above, in addition to a CAL:





Again, See these products in action here.


This shows some new features in TFS 2012 that require ONLY A TFS CAL (i.e. no additional VS license).  These are in addition to the standard TFS functionality like viewing/editing Work-Items, browsing source, etc:





 For more info, go here.


 Another way to think of it… TFS 2012 Web Access now has 3 levels of user permissions that tie to three license options: 

  • Limited   (no TFS CAL required)
    • View My Work Items


  • Standard   (TFS CAL required)
    • View My Work Items
    • View All Work Items
    • Standard Features
    • Agile Boards (second part of above)


  • Full   (VS Ult, Prem or TestPro with MSDN required (TFS CAL is included in MSDN by default)
    • View My Work Items
    • View All Work Items
    • Standard Features
    • Agile Boards  (second part of above)
    • Backlog and Sprint Planning Tools  (first part of above)
    • Request and Manage Feedback  (first part of above)



For more on TFS licensing concepts see this previous post


Comments (12)

  1. Matt Ring says:

    Well, this bit of news basically just sold JIRA + GreenHopper to several teams in my company… Very disappointed that roles like Project Managers or Product Owners (who would use the backlog the most) have to purchase a license for a development (VS Premium) and/or testing tool (VS Test Pro) they won't even use.  That makes no sense!

  2. AliasAlias says:

    @Matt – I think another way to look at this is that the Agile Planning Boards are essentially a new product/sku within the offering.  But rather than creating a new sku (with equal cost to VSTestPro) it's bundled into existing skus.   In looking at the pricing on Atlassian's website, I'm thinking you still come out way ahead since the there is little/no cost for TFS Server and TFS CALs (especially if you have MSDN(s)).  

  3. Damien Ryan says:

    Agile Boards is listed in both Full and CAL licences.  Does this mean there are levels of access to the boards themselves too?

  4. AliasAlias says:

    @Demien – As the second half of the post shows, the agile Boards (i.e. the square blocks of tasks) is included with just a CAL.   In order to get the 1st half (Product Backlog Mgt) you have to have a full license for VSTestPro, VSPrem or VSUlt.    Access to the boards is controlled from a setting in TFS 2012:…/Enable-Full-Web-Access-Features-inside-TFS-2012.aspx

  5. Nicholas says:

    For MSDN premium customers who have VS2012 Ultimate how do we install/configure the license on TFS to enable the full set of features?

  6. Dominic says:

    I suggest you to have a look at if you want to share a planning board to the entire team.

  7. George says:

    On the standard Web Acess,  can you view workitems created by others, if you have a TFSCAL?

  8. AliasAlias says:

    @George – Yes, and I've added a little more detail to the Limited, Standard, Full breakout in the post.  Thx.

  9. Stuart Wells says:

    Alas, I am trying to promote the use of TFS2012 (SCRUM) for our planning etc and the fact we will need to purchase VS Test Pro with MSDN (as this is the cheapest option) in order to allow our various Product Managers or other interested parties to see/enter/update the Backlog etc seems a financial blocker.

    Our devs have MSDN, but not Premium (only Professional) but at least they already have a TFS CAL. We will need TFS CALs for our Business Analysts and QA department plus maybe some other manager roles. To need to upgrade senior devs involved in planning and more buy more licenses for other planners seems very expensive for such a small element of the tooling.

  10. David V. Corbin says:

    Just an observation on licensing and cost [ignore the "name" of the license, looking at only at capabilities and aggregate cost]….

    First, an shop of a significant size will likely have an Enterprise Agreement [EA] and will NOT pay retail; even if you buy "off-the-shelf" there are still many discounts against full retail. Additionally, the renewal cost is much lower than the startup cost; amortize over a few years [3-5] to get a more accurate figure.

    Now comes the "tricky part"…estimate the actual cost savings of having these tools. Convert this to man hours of labor then look at where the "break even" point is [i.e. how may hours of labor must be saved per year to cover the cost of the license]

    In 95%+ of the scenarios I have seen [I own a company that does ALM consulting] the $$$ quickly become a non-issue in any detailed analysis. Of course, convincing the "bean counters" in a given environment that a "line item PO" is less than the (loaded) labor expenditures is a totally different subject..

  11. Reboots says:

    This should be an easy question to determine, but I have searched all of MS and not found it. My question is "What are the 'Standard Features' mentioned as a feature in both standard and full levels?"