Assign those MSDN subscriptions–and fully leverage your benefits

I work with many customers around their development and application lifecycle management requirements. That is a core part of my job. One of the other aspects is educating customers around leveraging the benefits when they purchase Visual Studio on MSDN. One of the areas that many, many South Africa customers are quite poor at, is managing their MSDN subscriptions. A customer will have many people involved in the process of creating solutions (not just devs, but also architects, testers, product owners, analysts etc), and will also have a bunch of licences. Often though, customers and partners are not properly managing who is assigned what. This has 2 major impacts

1) Potential mislicensing. If you don’t know who is assigned what, how do you know if you have too much, too little or enough? Imagine you had a fleet of cars, and you had no idea who was driving that car?

2) Benefits usage – The amount of benefits on MSDN are increasing, and if you don’t assign the benefit you cannot leverage it.


What are some of these benefits

1) Subscriber Downloads – last week I got an email from someone who wanted VB6, and this week someone else wanted VS2008. These are available for easy access on the MSDN subscription download site. You also get access to server software for dev and test usage. You get SQL and Windows when you buy the Pro editions with MSDN. You get all servers when you get Premium and Ultimate. These are licensed on a per user basis so anyone interacting with these environments needs MSDN too (final end users doing acceptance testing don’t need. Testers/Analysts generally do)

2) Windows Store accounts – we recently added Windows Phone and Window 8 store accounts as a benefit for MSDN subscribers

3) Technical Support – 2-4 incidents depending on the agreement

4) E-Learning Courses – Last year we also had a limited offer to get access to the Plural Sight courses

5) MSDN Magazine – for South Africa, you pay shipping but the magazine if free. You would pay around R150-R180 a year to get the MSDN Mag sent to you

6) TFS Service Account – for Test Pro, Premium and Ultimate users, you get a TFS Service Account

7) Office 365 Developer Account  – NEW – Last week we added a 12 month subscription to Office 365 Dev Subscription.

8) Other offers from partners


How do I assign MSDN subscriptions for Volume Licensing Purchases – Check out which has the appropriate resources and tips for managing MSDN subscriptions


I am a partner? How does MSDN work for me?

Microsoft partners receive Visual Studio with MSDN as a software benefit. This is a benefit, not a license (i.e the partner does not “own the software”). As such there are a couple of important points regarding this benefit

1) it is purely for internal use. You cannot use Microsoft Partner Network benefits for direct revenue generation.  Snippets from the licensing whitepaper

“”Partner MSDN subscribers may use the software in accordance with the MSDN subscriptions not for resale (NFR) retail license terms. MSDN subscriptions offered as benefits of the Microsoft Partner Network, including those provided through Microsoft Action Pack Development and Design, cannot be used for direct revenue-generating activities, such as providing consulting services, customizing a packaged application for a specific customer, or building a custom application for a customer, for a fee.

Partners can also purchase MSDN subscriptions separately for use in direct revenue-generating activities.

2) The subscriptions must be activated. For normal purchases, we recommend that you assign and activate the subscriptions. With Partner benefits, it is required that you do this. Only those employees who have activated their MSDN subscriptions are eligible to use the software


I hope this helps.

Ahmed Salijee

Comments (3)

  1. What are the regulation in following scenario:

    An organization has provided MSDN subscriptions to its developers. He uses the software for dev at his home (office already has a different development installation). What will happen when he leaves the organization? Can he also use those Keys to install OS at his home machines (Personal for learning, and/or development) purpose.

  2. Ahmed says:

    Once someone leaves the org, you will remove him/her from the list of MSDN subscribers – and you are free to assign that license to someone else. They (the persons who left) are no longer entitled to any of the software and benefits associated with the license. So that user would need remove Visual Studio and any other software once the benefit has been taken away. We don't really have any "enforcement" mechanisms for this – so it is largely an honesty based system.

  3. Thanks for the information Ahmed.