MSDN Subscriptions web site – February 2009 release

Some of you may or may not have noticed our February release go out last week.  The release itself is fairly substantial, but not in ways that you’ll immediately notice – so I’ll highlight some of the changes and issues we’ve seen since releasing these bits into production.

The new features include:

1.        “Super-setting” of your benefits for download and product key claiming purposes.  One of the complaints we regularly heard from our users with multiple subscriptions was the fact that to download a file, you first had to select the proper subscription that had permission to the file and then you could download it.  With super-setting, if any of your subscriptions entitle you to a download or a product key, you’ll be able to get what you want, based on the aggregation of your subscriptions.

2.       Added more information to our “manage” page.  Things like the expiration date of your subscription, the level of your subscription, the current status of your subscription, etc.

3.       A complete rewrite of our middle tier.  The original code for our middle tier was written almost four years ago.  Since that time, we’ve had incremental changes patched into the code to handle changes in our partner feeds, changes to the UI and fixes for various bugs.  This rewrite has given us a better platform for future development.

Unfortunately, there have been some bugs that didn’t get caught before we released our code into production.  The vast majority of them fall into two broad buckets:

1.       Users with a mix of expired and active subscriptions are seeing some odd behavior in the various web pages.

2.       Product key claims are not working correctly for users that either have a mix of expired and active subscriptions, or users that have a mix of subscriptions that contain an Academic Alliance subscription.

We believe that we have been able to identify the root cause for these issues and the fixes are currently in our test lab.  At this time, we expect to release the fixes to production early next week (Wednesday the 18th is our current target). 

Please feel free to sign into the blog and contact me privately if you have any questions.  After signing in, you can navigate here: and you will see an “email” link.


Chris Deluca - Dev Lead, MSDN and TechNet Subscriptions

Comments (11)

  1. M Bannish says:

    Recently had to take over management of subscription.

    Had done it 5 years ago.

    Sure has evolved into one of the most confusing systems I have ever seen.

    I cannot possibly have sufficient appreciation of the requirements you have to satisfy.

    When it gets this far out of control, it is KISS time.

    Microsoft needs to simplify the MSDN offerings and licensings to support small groups of developers.

  2. SubscriptionsBlogger2 says:

    M –

    Thanks for the feedback. I will share that with our business manager, who has more insight and involvement into the offerings and licensing areas. If you would like to provide some more specific feedback, examples, or pain points, you can sign in to the blog and go to and send me a mail as well.


  3. I agree with MBannish I have been a MSDN Universal subscriber since 1997 (what ever the full suite of products was called).  We need to get a new subscription (2) and I cannot find the comparable product.  We have only 2 developers; but we have 14 servers for developement of 5 major products.  It appears that I have to pay at the team level in order to get Visio Enterprise.   I cannot believe that you think only large numbers of developers actually architect thier products.  

    There used to be a comparism chart; but now the only one is for the team products.  There should be an item by item chart between Premium and Professional.  I found a posting in the forums that stated the Visio enterprise was still part of Professional; but I cannot varify that.  I believe I need the professional level; but I need to know that Visio Enterprise is included.  

    So I have three frustrations.

    1.  Too many products and combination of products targeted to very large companies.  

    2.   No detailed list of exactly which products are included.

    3.   Nowhere to find information apart from Monday through Friday.

    Thanks in advance.

    [Julie responds:  

    We have a chart that compares the different subscription levels here: and on that page is a link (over on the right) to download the complete list of products available for each subscription level.


    The most comparable subscription to MSDN Universal is Visual Studio Professional with MSDN Premium.  We retired MSDN Universal off our price lists in 2005 when we launched Visual Studio 2005, but due to multi-year enterprise contracts there are a few people who still have a subscription called “MSDN Universal” which provides the same download and support benefits as Visual Studio Professional with MSDN Premium. 


    The Visio Enterprise product you’re likely looking for is available to our Visual Studio Professional with MSDN Professional level and all the MSDN Premium subscription levels, and you can find it under the Visual Studio 2005 folder in Subscriber Downloads.


  4. C Oz says:

    I just noticed that I can no longer get my keys on an expired MSDN subscription.  They all show empty even on products that were part of my subscription.  Will this be fixed as part of the update in a few days?   What is the workaround for this in the meantime?  Maybe I should try phone support?

    [Chris responds: Yes, this should be a part of the fix that is coming in the next couple of days. You can try the “Export Key List to Xml” at the top of the “My Product Keys” page.  This does return data for some users – but it depends on the bug that is actually blocking you.  If this does not work, please sign into the blog and contact me via email directly and I will assist you with getting your data – In this case, phone suppport won’t be able to get the data you are looking for.]

  5. Kamil M says:

    When are you guys planning on fixing the Technet Subscription activation issues? I have purchased my subscription last Wednesday (11th) and I am still unable to add it on the Technet Website (Subscription Data not Recognized). Your customer service just became aware of the issue this Tuesday – how long does it take the developers to issue a fix? Every affected customer should receive a credit for the downtime.

    I find it unacceptable that there is no announcement, e-mail or anything else for all the people who are trying to access their newly purchased subscriptions. Does anyone have any more details regarding this problem?

    [Julie responds:

    Kamil : none of the changes made last week have any bearing on the registration/activation of a newly purchased subscription. As I am sure the customer service reprensative told you, it currently takes a minimum of 3 business days for a new subscription to be made available in the system. The error message “Unrecognized Subscription Data” means that either the data is not yet in the back end system, or the data you are entering on the registration page does not exactly match the data that was provided to you in email or on the phone – that was used during the purchase. The support representative can confirm if your subscription is active in the system and they can confirm the data that you will need to use for your one time registration. It must be entered exactly as provided.]

  6. billy says:

    When I click on the Download button, a window pops up and I get the option to either “open with” or “save file” – the file being called default.aspx.  If I select open with the File Transfer Manager, I just then get something like:





    [Julie replies: Did you already look at the FTM Troubleshooting page? I think it covers this. If not, what browser (with version) are you using?.]


  7. Mendoj says:

    I have an VS Pro w/MSDN Premium suscription that expires on 2011 and bought 2 Expression suscriptions a few days ago. Today I created a user on eOpen to manage one of this Expression Suscriptions, in fact, a user with the same email account (mine) as in MSDN Premium Suscription. As expected, I received an email with the Benefit Access Number and entered it at Expression Site: nothing happened, just like if I had entered and invalid Benefit Access Number, but the worst issue is that now, for unknown reasons, my MSDN suscription dissapeared just like that, it’s gone. I tried to re-activate my MSDN suscription in all the following ways:

    1. I entered the MSDN Benefit Number again.

    2. I deleted the user associated to Expression Suscription.

    3. I deleted all the cookies from the computer and repeated step 1.

    4. I created the Expression user again and tried (don’t ask me why) to register the brandnew Benefit Access Number in both Sites, MSDN and Expression.

    What did I do so wrong to get this mess? Any help? Thanks in advance.

  8. Mendoj says:

    I’m very sorry, the correct word in my previous comment is "subscription" instead of "suscription".

  9. Mendoj says:

    Finally I could fix the mess: after deleting once again (and again and again) my user, I created a new one with a slightly different name (both first and last name) and with a different email account. Now I can access both my MSDN and my Expression Subscriptions without any trouble and, much better, both of them with the same Live ID. It seems to me now that two different licenses cannot be associated to the same user even when each license is for different product subscriptions, at least through eOpen program.

    I just want to add that I would greatly appreciate if, sometime in the future, you guys find a way to simplify the process of getting product keys and benefit access numbers because, right now, I think it’s very confusing: go to eOpen and register your Agreement, go somewhere else through a link in the middle of the general information document to manage your benefits; once you’re ready, go to MSDN or Expression for the next step. Product keys? maybe you have to go to a fourth location depending on whether you’re looking for volume keys or not. After a while, you get the full picture but at the very first time it’s a little bit frustrating. Anyway, never mind, I’m a newbie in managing licenses so it’s quite possible that it’s just me. Best regards.

  10. SubscriptionsBlogger2 says:


    I am glad you got this figured out. I will pass along your feedback to the team that owns the EOpen and VL sites as that is not something I have any involvement with.

    In the future, there are support teams specifically knowledgeable about the various VL tools if you need them, but hopefully you are set now.

  11. parker41 says:

    thanks for this posting

    i follow  that I can no longer get my keys on an expired MSDN subscription.

    [Chris responds: Subscribers with expired subscriptions can view keys they had claimed before their subscription expired at the “My Product Keys” page located here: ]

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