How much will it cost me to develop against Windows Live?

In my previous blog post I outlined some new commercial terms for Windows Live services that we announced at Mix. These are important because they give developers simple clarity on how they can use our services - and of course because the terms are so generous.

However I thought it worth drilling down on them a little bit to make sure they're as clear as possible. Do note however that the official word on the Terms of Use is as displayed on, but hopefully this explanation will provide some additional insights.

Oh, and this is all good news, I don't think you'll get any nasty surprises from the following :-). So here goes:

  1. Silverlight streaming, Live Spaces API and Live Contacts API are completely free to use until they come out of beta. So all of the charging information I listed only comes into effect when these services go live

  2. When we're talking about the Live Contacts API, the terms I mentioned (eg free if you have less than 1 million unique users per month etc) only apply if you're using the API itself. If you're using the Live Contacts Control - essentially a control you can embed within an iframe on your site - then these limits don't apply. Obviously the API is a more attractive option for many people because it gives you full control over the look and feel etc, however the control is extremely simple to use. The key point though: if you use the control, you don't need to worry about the usage limits.

  3. When I talk about unique users, it's only those users that actually make API calls via your site that count. It they are just visitors to your site and they don't make any Windows Live API calls then we're not counting them

  4. And it doesn't matter how many times they actually use the API within each month, we only count them once. So if they're constantly coming back and forth to your site and causing API calls we still only count them once per month.

  5. Which also means it doesn't matter how many API calls they make - they could make thousands - we only count them once per month.

  6. Another piece of good news, we actually take a 3 month average in terms of counting unique users, and usage of the 4GB limit. So if you have spikes of usage in 1 month say, but they drop well beneath the usage / storage limit in the other two months, you're fine as long as the 3 month average is below the usage / storage limits.

  7. And one last piece: The incredible 3 million map tiles per month you get with Virtual Earth includes commercial usage. So if you find a way of making money out of Virtual Earth, but stay within the 3 million maps tiles per month number, you still get it for free.

The more I hear about this stuff the better it gets. What the Windows Live team has done here is really set the bar in terms of generosity of service use and clarity of the conditions. And the good thing is the deeper you look into it the better it gets, contrary people's expectations. This is terrific stuff.

Comments (11)
  1. mbrown says:

    If we buy microsoft expression studio which allows silverlight development – do we then have to pay extra (after beta) to use silverlight.  The costs really do mount up.

    And also, if we have to buy Visual Studio Orcas in order to develope using silverlight because Visual studio 2005 does not support it, then thats another extra cost.  Espcially if some companies have just upgraded from VS 2003 to VS 2005.

    I hope I win the lottery this month.

    I would love it that I am completely wrong about the pricing etc, however, I don’t think this is the case.  Unless I have missunderstood your above post.

    Yet, keep up the good work, as from what I have seen so far is excellent.

  2. Ian Moulster says:

    Hi Mark – actually you can develop for Silverlight using notepad if you wish. The tools make it easier but they aren’t mandatory.

    And by the way you don’t need to pay to use Silverlight at all. Just like the .NET Framework it’s completely free.

  3. mbrown says:

    Ah ok, thanks for the reply.  You mention the silverlight streaming will be free while it is in beta?  What will be the charges out of beta.  Will you be charged on for example the amount of data streamed using silverlight per month?

    Anyword on whether it will be built in with VS 2005 Pro, or whether we will need to buy Orcas to take full advantage?

  4. Ian Moulster says:

    After it launches you get (a frankly incredible) 1 million minutes of streaming per month *free*, and with no advertising and no branding from us.

    And if you’re prepared to accept advertising even this limit doesn’t apply – it will be free for unlimited use, and still at that 700 KB/s deliver speed if you want it.

    Take a look at for details.

    I’ll get back to you re VS2005 support.

  5. mbrown says:

    Hi Ian,

    Any news on the VS2005 support?

    The blob is really quiet since the competition ended and everyone (well nearly everyone) received their prizes!



  6. Ian Moulster says:

    Hi Mark – I have an answer, just getting full details before I publish. I’ll probably post a new entry.

    And yes it’s nice and quiet :-). People are still reading the blog according to the numbers but aren’t commenting as much, which is fine by me.

  7. mbrown says:

    Have you received all the data for the VS2005 support yet?

    Sorry for nagging. 😀


  8. Ian Moulster says:

    As soon as I have it I’ll post an entry about it. It takes a while because of the timezone issues with the US, but I’ll get the answer….

  9. mbrown says:

    Ok cool, will look forward to the new post.  I am watching my RSS feed on my Vista Gadget bar as I type 😀

  10. Ian Moulster says:

    Mark – the answer I have for you is "We are targeting Visual Studio codenamed ‘Orcas’ for Silverlight development". I can’t add anything to that statement at this time.

    When we get to the stage where I can expand on that statement further I’ll do so.

  11. Ben OC says:

    I’m about to start work on a major VOD project, really undecided about whether Silverlight or Flash, the post-beta cost worry me slightly, also how much would upgraded storage be ? Flash streaming hosting works out at £5,000 a year with scale, if I convince people to push our users into a Silverlight update, will we see a saving for our effort ?

    I’m personally very tempted by silverlight development, although a bit sad there’s no affordable option for expression studio ! The coding side is beautiful, but there are still some holes !

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