Team System Licensing

The first version of the Team System Licensing white paper is now available for download from Microsoft Downloads. I say “first version” because I’m sure this paper will raise questions that will require an update to answer. Here’s the link:

Here’s an abstract:

This white paper provides an overview of Visual Studio 2005 Team System licensing, focusing on typical configuration and deployment issues. This document will provide a general understanding of the core features, typical deployment scenarios and required licensing for the Visual Studio 2005 Team System product line.

Comments (11)

  1. Colin says:

    Thanks Rob.

    So here come the queries:

    Will "VS 2005 Team Suite" continue to include all roles as new roles are released?

    Team Explorer as a standalone client is mentioned. How are the bits for this distributed? With the TFS CD?

    "Finally, each MSDN Premium Subscription purchased with a Team System client product will also include Microsoft® Visual Studio® 2005 Team Foundation Server Workgroup Edition. "

    What about MSDN Premium with VS 2005 Pro – does that include TFS Workgroup? And since TFS Workgroup doesn’t need calls, 5 such seperate licensees can party together?

    "Organizations may not rotate client products among users"

    So is it per-specific-user licensing then, but OK if people come and go from the org?

    " “External users” refers to users that are neither (i) your or your affiliates’ employees, nor (ii) your or your affiliates’ on site contractors or agents."

    If an off-site contractor has a local account, is a connector required if a CAL is available?

    And is it "(ii) your or your affiliates’ ((on site contractors) or (agents [which could be on or off site]))"

    or "(ii) your or your affiliates’ ((on site) contractors or agents)"??

    "One license is required for each server on which Team Foundation Server is deployed, including when the application and data tiers are on separate servers."

    By data tier, do you mean the SQL server or do you mean TFS components/bits on seperate servers like Exchange front/back-end? If the former, that’s awful if you have to install TFS on the SQL server to avoid acquiring two licenses? And if you want two load balanced web servers + SQL Server, you need 3 licenses?


  2. colin says:

    Also forgot to ask:

    Will VS 2005 Pro with MSDN Premium include a TFS CAL, so such a licensee can use TE with TFSs?

    Empower, Certified and Gold Partners get a number of internal use licenses. Will TF Server and CALS (on top of those gained from TS Role Edition benefits, for use by say Excel/Project users) be added to those benefits, as well as any Load Test, etc. licenses?


  3. Aaron Stonerock says:

    How do you transition from a Team Foundation Server (TFS) that was setup in Workgroup mode?

    Say we have a staff of 5 and need a contractor for 6 months to get us through a busy project period and we had been using the Workgroup mode. Do we then have to buy TFS and CALs for each user (6), not just for the new hire (1)?

    Is it correct that if I had MSDN Universal Subscriptions for all 6 that I could install 2 separate TFS instances in Workgroup mode and be fine, but if I wanted one instance of TFS, I would have to buy the TFS server license + CALs?

  4. RobCaron says:

    I’m working on a follow-up post to address questions posted in the comments of this post. If you have additional questions related to Team System licensing, just add a comment.

  5. Ken Suzuki says:

    Thanks for this information, Rob.

    I’m not sure if my question is in your wheelhouse, but I’ve heard a number of different permutations on VS.NET licensing for partner ISVs from supposedly authoritative sources, and I was hoping that you could clear things up.

    I’m a small ISV that is currently on the Empower ISV program. The aggregate scuttlebutt online seems to be that Empower ISVs will be getting VS2005 Professional. In additon, Empower customer service told me that discount prices for Team System editions would be offered to Empower ISVs. Can you confirm this?

    Since the Professional edition is insufficient for my needs, I’m considering taking the immediate step of becoming a Certified Partner with an ISV Competency. So the critial question for me is: What editions of VS2005 will I be entitled to as a Certified ISV?

    This is a thread that I have been tracking on this topic:

    Thanks again for making the effort to keep us informed.

  6. Joshua Blake says:

    Hi Rob, thanks for the document.

    I’m very happy to read about the TFS workgroup edition. This is going to meet the needs of my organization as well as many other small businesses.

    I read the document in total, and had a few comments. First through, there are two typos in the summary. "Prior to making ***to make*** decisions regarding Team System licensing,…" repeated "to make," and also "• Is your team geographically distributed? Or, ***will*** do you plan to outsource some development" extra word "will."

    * First, I think the organization of the document might be able to use some work. The Workgroup edition was mentioned in two or three places, and I had to read the whole document in order to piece together all of the information about it. For example, it wasn’t until page 13 that I read Workgroup didn’t need CALs.

    * More information should be included about the team explorer. Is this a separate program? Is it "additional software?" Does it require CALs? What is it anyway? etc. Again, this would be best organized in one section perhaps.

    * It is unclear whether one needs one or two TFS license for a dual-server install (i.e. Data Tier on machine 1 and Application Tier on machine 2.) In the diagram on page 12, does this need four licenses? I don’t know. The diagram label should probably say specifically.

    * I like the specific examples of team setups and server setups with the exact number of what licenses required.

    * The document says "may not rotate client products among users" on page 7 (so as to avoid having to buy the full suite), but on page 8 it says "You may reassign Team Foundation Server CALs as needed within your organization, even those that come with Team System client products." This seems to conflict, or at the minimum is confusing. How (or why) would I reassign a CAL if I can’t move the client product? I could see using it for third-party apps, but then don’t you have the same problem of "buy one CAL and reassign it every time someone needs it?" Please correlate these two pieces of information.

    Some of these comments may be answered more appropriately in another doc, so I apologize if they fall outside the scope of the licensing whitepaper.


  7. colin says:


    "The document says "may not rotate client products among users" on page 7 (so as to avoid having to buy the full suite), but on page 8 it says "You may reassign Team Foundation Server CALs as needed within your organization, even those that come with Team System client products." This seems to conflict, or at the minimum is confusing"

    I almost said that too. AFAIK, the licensing of VSTE role SKUs is seperate for TFS, TE & TFS CALs, except that the VSTE role SKUs include a TFS CAL.

    i.e. you can play with TFS & TE (standalone or in VS 2005 Pro) and you can re-assign the CALs for that.

  8. Bruce Franson says:


    Thanks – that is very helpful. The scenarios provided are great. Can you provide a scenario for the 5 developer "free" Team Foundation Server? Let’s say that the developers wanted to use the Developer version of VSTS with the Team Foundation Server (the most likely scenario for a small shop). Do they need to purchase the appropriate version of Visual Studio (ie, something beyond Visual Studio 2005 Pro)?

    Another question that still is unresolved (in my mind anyway) is whether the Certified Partners with ISV Competency (different than Empower ISV) who get the Team Suite Developer version actually get. Will they get the Team Foundation Server as part of this? Would they be able to use the 5 developer ‘free’ version if they just have 5 developers?

    Licensing is just so much fun. Perhaps a flat tax approach would be better…

  9. Philippe says:


    Scenario: a development team consists of 3 time 5 developers split in 3 sites.

    If I have understood correctly this requires a total of 15 CAL (for example with Team Suite) and 3 TFS licences (or even 4: one central server + 3 proxies because of security constraints).

    ==> Can we consider that 3 TFS workgroup edition may be used as proxies if we have 15 CAL bought with the central TFS?

    ==> Or can we have a special price for proxies?

    2) Is everything that is done through the project site portal has to be consider as "Viewing manually distributed reports via Microsoft® Windows SharePoint Services" so no CAL required?

    3) Maybe newbie question but MSDN subscriptions last one year. Do I have to renew all these licences every year or I am just loosing the supprt but no the licences after one year if I don’t renew my subscription (in clear: I am buying or renting the right of use the products)

    4) If I use a product such as TeamPlain, are we in the situation where I have to buy an "external connector, allowing unlimited off-site access to Team Foundation Server by non-employees for a fixed price.". What if employees access TFS through TeamPlain? Do I need CALs? What is the price of this "external connector"?


  10. denny says:

    NOTE: I am in the midst of renewing my Empower ISV package. the rep who emailed me had not info at all *NONE* about team system and the workgroup option or that Empower users might get that!!!

    seems like somehting that MSFT should be making clear to all of us in that program as all of us have been alternatly confused / angry / lost in the shuffle….

    PLEASE: TFS and VS and MSDN have just gotten way to complex to grasp. MSFT: you have not helped your #1 fan base and marketing team…

    this has just left us all in the dust choking and gasping…

    let there be a nice simple "UNIVERSAL" developer package like we used to have…

  11. Ken Suzuki says:

    I spoke to multiple people at Empower, including a few intelligent-sounding ones. The answer was pretty consistently that Empower users would be getting (only) VS2005 Professional and will be offered Team System editions in December at a discount price. No comment on what that pricing might be. So if Empower doesn’t get Team editions, then it follows that they would not get TFS either.

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