Microsoft Visual Studio 2017 Licensing
Visual Studio 2017 Licensing Overview
With the primary Visual Studio 2017 offerings there are essentially two things for which you purchase licenses:
- The Visual Studio Team Foundation Server environment
Additionally, you can purchase Visual Studio Team Services for your team, which is billed along with other Microsoft Azure services.
The primary way to license users is by purchasing the appropriate level Visual Studio subscription for each user who will be participating in software development projects. The software, services, and support included with Visual Studio subscriptions varies by level, so you should consult the Visual Studio subscription comparison to determine the right level for the needs of each team member. The Visual Studio software and other Microsoft software that the individual subscriber can install and run is defined by what is available for that Visual Studio subscription level in Subscriber Downloads while the user’s subscription is active.
Visual Studio subscription options:
A. Standard subscriptions (sold via the Microsoft Store and Volume Licensing resellers):
• Visual Studio Enterprise Subscription (formerly MSDN)
• Visual Studio Test Professional Subscription (formerly MSDN)
• Visual Studio Professional Subscription (formerly MSDN)
• MSDN Platforms
B. Cloud subscriptions (sold via the Visual Studio Marketplace):
• Visual Studio Enterprise – annual
• Visual Studio Enterprise – monthly
• Visual Studio Professional – annual
• Visual Studio Professional – monthly
The Team Foundation Server Environment
The Team Foundation Server environment is where the software developers, testers, project managers, stakeholders, and other participants in the software development team collaborate, manage source code, manage and prioritize work, generate builds of the application, and much more. You purchase Windows Server and Team Foundation Server licenses for each server in this environment, plus Windows Server and Team Foundation Server Client Access Licenses (CALs) for each user connecting to these servers. Microsoft SQL Server 2018 Standard is included with the Team Foundation Server license for use with Team Foundation Server.
Visual Studio Team Services
Visual Studio Team Services offers a broad and growing set of cloud-based Application Lifecycle Management and DevOps capabilities for use by your team. Creating a Visual Studio Team Services account is free.
It’s also free to add as many stakeholders and active Visual Studio subscribers to your Visual Studio Team Services account as you need. All Visual Studio subscribers get Basic access to your account, plus certain Visual Studio subscriptions include additional features, such as the Test Manager and Package Management extensions. The Visual Studio Marketplace provides a number of additional features through extensions, many of which are free.
In addition to the free stakeholders and Visual Studio subscribers, you get five free users in your account, with access to Basic features like version control, agile planning, and more. After that, you pay for each user accessing your Visual Studio Team Services account. You can also purchase additional services for use by the account overall, such as Build and Release Hosted Pipelines and Private Pipelines, and Cloud-based Load Testing.
Visual Studio Community 2017
Visual Studio Community 2017 is a free, full-featured IDE for any developer building non-enterprise apps across any platform or device. It includes all the capabilities needed to create compelling non-enterprise applications, including powerful productivity features, mobile development tools for Windows, iOS and Android, and access to thousands of extensions.
Who can use the Software
Rights to use Visual Studio Community depend on the customer segment and usage scenarios as explained below.
Any individual developer can use Visual Studio Community, to create their own free or paid apps.
• An unlimited number of users within an organization can use Visual Studio Community for the following scenarios: in a classroom learning environment, for academic research, or for contributing to open source projects.
• Any number of users may use the software to develop and test device drivers for the Windows operating system.
• For all other usage scenarios: In non-enterprise organizations up to 5 users can use Visual Studio Community. In enterprise organizations (meaning those with >250 PCs or > $1M in annual revenue) no use is permitted for employees as well as contractors beyond the open source, academic research and classroom learning environment scenarios described above.
Visual Studio Subscription Renewals and Upgrades
Visual Studio standard subscriptions that are due to expire can be renewed cost effectively. Renewal pricing is considerably lower than purchasing a new Visual Studio subscription because the customer only pays for the ongoing right to receive new versions of the software, access to new product keys plus other expiring subscriber benefits, but not for a new license of the Visual Studio development tool, which the customer already has.
Retail Visual Studio subscriptions must be renewed annually. The renewal grace period—that is, the period from when the Visual Studio subscription expires to the point where the customer loses the option to renew at the renewal price—is 30 days.
Visual Studio subscriptions purchased under most Volume Licensing programs are valid until the Volume License Agreement or Enrollment terminates. However, the Select Plus Agreement (which does not expire) is an exception. Purchases under Select Plus last for 3 years from the date of purchase and there are also options for aligning the subscription term end date with an Agreement anniversary date.
For all Volume Licensing Programs, Visual Studio subscriptions must be renewed by purchasing the Software Assurance (SA) version of the product by the deadline specified under the Volume Licensing agreement. These deadlines vary by program, and may also vary depending on the terms in place when the agreement was signed.
Standard Subscription Upgrade Options
You can upgrade an active Visual Studio subscription either at renewal (in which case you must purchase both the subscription renewal at the former level and a “step-up” license which upgrades the subscription) or at another point during the term of the subscription.
Upgrades are not available in other programs, but retail and Open License customers (where Step-up Licenses are not available) can still take advantage of Step-up Licenses by renewing into the Open Value program and immediately buying a Step-up.
Customers may “renew down” from a higher-level Visual Studio standard subscription to a lower-level subscription—effectively trading one license for another. In doing so, the customer forfeits all rights associated with the old Visual Studio subscription and must immediately discontinue using any products that were available as part of that subscription but that are not available under the new subscription.
Visual Studio cloud subscriptions renew automatically each month (for monthly subscriptions) or each year (for annual subscriptions). The price is the same each year because there is no perpetual software license included. In having the same each year, it also means that there is no “new” or “renewal” option, and there are no complexities in upgrading or downgrading—you simply select the subscription you want each month (for monthly) or each year (for annual).
Visual Studio Team Services Purchasing
In many cases, no purchase is necessary for using Visual Studio Team Services. There is no extra charge for active Visual Studio subscribers who join the account, there are five free users included with each Visual Studio Team Services account and unlimited stakeholders per account. Additionally, there are free amounts of certain additional services (e.g., Build and Release Hosted Pipelines, Build and Release Private Pipelines, Cloud-based Load Testing) available per account.
Billing of paid Visual Studio Team Services is done through Microsoft Azure. Visual Studio Team Services is a set of finished Azure services so there is no need to pay for the underlying infrastructure (VMs, storage, bandwidth, etc.) that is used to run your Visual Studio Team Services account.
As part of purchasing Team Services, you will need to create an Azure subscription if you do not have one already. The Azure subscription establishes the payment terms such as payment via credit card or invoice.
Certain Visual Studio products are available for purchase through other Microsoft programs, including:
• Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA): Visual Studio Team Foundation Server, Visual Studio Enterprise, Visual Studio Professional, and Visual Studio Test Professional are available on a subscription basis through participating hosted solution partners. The partner offers the software running on its own hardware that you connect to remotely. These are not Visual Studio subscription offerings. Use terms for the SPLA are covered in the Services Provider Use Rights (SPUR) document.
• Microsoft ISV Royalty Licensing Program is a program for ISVs wishing to include Visual Studio or other Microsoft products within their finished software applications that they distribute to customers.
Additionally, Visual Studio subscriptions or Visual Studio are provided as program benefits under certain Microsoft programs:
• Microsoft Partner Network: Partners with one or more competencies earn Visual Studio Enterprise Subscription subscriptions which must be assigned to their end users and the Visual Studio subscriber must activate prior to use of the software. These subscribers may use the software in accordance with the MSDN subscriptions not for resale (NFR) retail license terms. Software offered through the Microsoft Partner Network 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 use Visual Studio subscriptions for indirect revenue-generating activities, such as building a packaged application on the Microsoft platform, which they can then market and sell to customers.
• Microsoft BizSpark: Microsoft BizSpark is a global program that helps software startups succeed by giving them access to Microsoft software development tools, connecting them with key industry players, including investors, and providing marketing visibility to help entrepreneurs starting a business. The Visual Studio Enterprise Subscription subscriptions offered through BizSpark are subject to the MSDN subscriptions not for resale (NFR) retail license terms.
• Microsoft Imagine (formerly DreamSpark): provides tools to students, faculty, and staff at academic institutions for instructional use (e.g., for instruction, coursework, and non-commercial research) for a small charge per institution. Academic institutions participating in the Campus Agreement/EES and OVS/ES programs in Microsoft Volume Licensing receive an online subscription to DreamSpark at no additional cost. The software licensed through Microsoft Imagine includes Visual Studio Professional, Windows Server, and SQL Server among other software. In addition, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) departments in higher education institutions may qualify for a Microsoft Imagine Premium subscription which offers access to a wider range of Microsoft software titles. To take advantage of their Microsoft Imagine subscription benefit (, academic customers need to enroll at using their Academic Volume Licensing agreement number and the appropriate Microsoft Imagine promotion code that are included in their Academic Volume Licensing subscription Welcome Letter. Students at institutions that do not have a Microsoft Imagine subscription can verify their student status on the Microsoft Imagine site for no-cost access to the software: https://imagine.microsoft.com/en-us/account
Please consult the terms for each program for specific Visual Studio subscription use right additions or exclusions.
Licensed for Design, Development, Testing, and Demonstrating Your Programs
All Visual Studio subscriptions and Visual Studio Professional are licensed on a per-user basis. Each licensed user may install and use the software on any number of devices to design, develop, test, and demonstrate their programs. Visual Studio subscriptions also allow the licensed user to evaluate the software and to simulate customer environments in order to diagnose issues related to your programs. Each additional person who uses the software in this way must also have a license.
What Software is Included and Downgrade Rights
For Visual Studio subscriptions, the software that is included is defined as any software that is available to the subscriber via the Subscriber Portal while the user’s subscription is active, plus downgrade rights to prior versions of any of that software (for legacy software versions that are not available in the Subscriber Portal). Visual Studio subscriptions include both current version software plus many prior versions dating back over a decade, and often carry multiple different editions (Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter, etc.) of the same product to support a variety of software development and testing scenarios. Plus, Visual Studio subscribers are regularly gaining access to new versions of the software as it is released.
Anyone can visit the Subscriber Portal, search for a particular download, and then click on the details to see what date the download was published and what subscription levels have access to download it. It is not necessary to be a subscriber to review this, though it is necessary to be a subscriber in order to download. For a more general view of what software is included with each Visual Studio subscription, you can compare subscriptions.
For Visual Studio Professional 2017 standalone licenses, the software included in the license is the current version of the software, Visual Studio Professional 2017, plus downgrade rights to simultaneously run prior versions of Visual Studio Professional to which you may otherwise have access.
For purposes of this User Licensing section, we will refer to the software included with the license as “the software.”
Different Licensed Users Can Run the Same Software
Each member of the development team that will use (install, configure, or access) the software must have his or her own Visual Studio subscription. Two or more individuals may use the same software if each has a Visual Studio subscription.
Where the Software can be Installed and Run
The licensed user can install and use the software on any number of devices. The software can be installed and used on your devices at work, at home, at school, and even on devices at a customer’s office or on dedicated hardware hosted by a 3rd party. Most subscriber software can also be run in Microsoft Azure VMs. However, the software is otherwise not licensed for use in production environments.
A production environment is defined as an environment that is accessed by end users of an application (such as an Internet Web site) and that is used for more than Acceptance Testing of that application or Feedback. Some scenarios that constitute production environments include:
• Environments that connect to a production database.
• Environments that support disaster-recovery or backup for a production environment.
• Environments that are used for production at least some of the time, such a server that is rotated into production during peak periods of activity.
Additional Use Rights and Benefits for Visual Studio Subscribers
Production use of Office Professional Plus 2016
Office Professional Plus 2016 can be used by licensed users of Visual Studio Enterprise Subscription or Visual Studio Enterprise – annual on one device for production use.
Production Use of Visual Studio Team Foundation Server
Visual Studio Enterprise Subscription, Visual Studio Professional with MSDN Subscription, Visual Studio Test Professional Subscription, and MSDN Platforms, and all Visual Studio cloud subscriptions include a server license and one Client Access License for Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2018. More information is provided later in this paper under the section on Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2018 Licensing.
Monthly Microsoft Azure Credits for Visual Studio Subscribers
Visual Studio Enterprise Subscription, Visual Studio Enterprise – annual, MSDN Platforms, Visual Studio Test Professional Subscription, Visual Studio Professional with MSDN Subscription, and Visual Studio Professional – annual subscriptions include a monthly credit to use on Microsoft Azure services. Availability varies and the amount of service included is subject to change, please see http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/member-offers/msdn-benefits/ for details. To use these services, the Visual Studio subscriber must sign up and accept the Microsoft Azure Agreement. The Visual Studio subscriber may not run production applications; all use of this benefit is limited to development and testing. Also, monthly Azure credits from multiple Visual Studio subscriptions cannot be combined onto a single account.
Visual Studio Team Services Benefits for Visual Studio Subscribers
All Visual Studio subscribers (standard and cloud) who have activated their subscription can create or join any Visual Studio Team Services account at no additional charge. Additional extensions are also available to Visual Studio subscribers as follows, at no extra charge:
Cloud Use Rights: Running the Subscriber Software on Microsoft Azure VMs
Visual Studio subscribers who have activated their subscription can run most subscriber software in VMs on Microsoft Azure. These cloud use rights are still limited to the design, development, testing and demonstration of your software. Cloud use rights apply to Visual Studio and all other software included in the user’s Visual Studio subscription, but not to Windows client and Windows Server. Also, a Remote Desktop Services (RDS) client access license is not required to access Azure VMs for development and testing.
Activating the Visual Studio subscription means associating the licensed user’s Microsoft account or Work or Student account login with the Visual Studio subscription. Activation is required in order to gain access to subscriber benefits including Subscriber Downloads, monthly Azure credits, and more.
Visual Studio subscribers can run Windows Server or Windows client VMs where these are offered but must pay the fees associated with running these VMs since Windows Server and Windows client are not included as part of Visual Studio subscriber cloud use rights. Windows Server VMs are available through Azure and many other providers. Windows client VMs are exclusively available to active Visual Studio subscribers (all standard subscriptions, plus annual cloud subscriptions) on Azure, and only through the monthly Azure credits for Visual Studio subscribers, or team Azure subscriptions set up using the Dev/Test Pay-As-You-Go offer or Enterprise Dev/Test offer.
Visual Studio Enterprise Subscription, Visual Studio Enterprise – annual, and Visual Studio Enterprise – monthly subscribers can use the software to execute load tests with any number of virtual users, including load tests that run in a production environment.
SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse Developer
Visual Studio Enterprise Subscription, Visual Studio Enterprise – annual, Visual Studio Professional Subscription, and Visual Studio Test Professional Subscription subscriptions include a license for SQL Server Parallel Warehouse Developer. The Parallel Data Warehouse appliances required to run this software are sold through OEMs.
IntelliTrace enables the recording and playback of application execution to help facilitate debugging. This is accomplished by deploying the IntelliTrace diagnostic data adapter (DDA) to the target system as part of the Visual Studio Test Agent, by deploying the IntelliTrace.exe command-line utility, or by running a test using Microsoft Test Manager. Microsoft Test Manager is included as a part of the Visual Studio Test Professional and Visual Studio Enterprise software installations.
IntelliTrace files—the output from running the IntelliTrace DDA or IntelliTrace.exe—can only be opened and debugged using Visual Studio Enterprise. IntelliTrace files may be shared among two or more companies. For example, a company can share IntelliTrace files with an external development consultant. Similarly, a company can use an external company for testing purposes and debug IntelliTrace files provided by that vendor.
When the Software Included is Subject to its Own Terms
Prerelease and Trial Software
Visual Studio subscriptions include access to prerelease and trial versions of Microsoft software products. If the software is made available as part of the user’s Visual Studio subscription, then it can be installed and used on any number of devices.
However, prerelease and trial versions of software provided via Subscriber Downloads are subject to their in-product licensing terms.
SDKs, DDKs, Feature Packs, and patterns & practices Releases
Visual Studio subscriptions include access to Software Development Kits (SDKs), Driver Development Kits (DDKs), Visual Studio Feature Packs, and patterns & practices releases, which are subject to their in-product licensing terms.
Windows Embedded products have additional software license terms that are governed by the specific product end user licensing agreement (EULA). Windows Embedded software cannot be used to run business operations or to distribute the Windows Embedded software for commercial purposes (e.g., licensing, leasing or selling the Windows Embedded software, distributing it in a product to customers for evaluation purposes or distributing it for use with commercial products). Additional steps are necessary to distribute the Windows Embedded software for commercial purposes. Microsoft Embedded Authorized Distributors can guide the subscriber through the licensing, certifying and shipping requirements.
IntelliTrace Collector and Microsoft Management Agent
The IntelliTrace Collector (offered in the Visual Studio 2012 product line) and Microsoft Management Agent (offered starting with the Visual Studio 2017 product line) are free downloads. The IntelliTrace Collector and Microsoft Management Agent can be installed on any number of machines, including those in a production environment, to collect historical logs that can be used to debug application issues. Use of the IntelliTrace Collector and Microsoft Management Agent is subject to the in-product licensing terms, though the IntelliTrace output can only be read by Visual Studio Enterprise Subscription, Visual Studio Enterprise – annual, and Visual Studio Enterprise – monthly subscribers.
Visual Studio Remote Tools, formerly known as the Remote Debugger, is subject to the in-product licensing terms provided. The Remote Tools can be used in a production environment to debug an application in real time.
Scenarios in which Unlicensed Users can use the Software
Demonstration Using Terminal Services
All Visual Studio subscriptions (except monthly cloud subscriptions) include the use of the Windows Server Remote Desktop Services for up to 200 simultaneous, anonymous users to access an online demonstration of your programs. These anonymous users do not need a Visual Studio subscription. Nonetheless, a Visual Studio subscriber can use Remote Desktop Services for development and testing as they can for any other software included in their subscription.
At the end of a software development project, end users (or team members such as a business sponsor or product manager acting as proxies for end users, particularly in cases where it’s infeasible or impossible for the actual end users of the program to participate) typically review an application and determine whether it meets the necessary criteria for release—a process often called user acceptance testing or UAT. The software may be accessed by end users who do not have a Visual Studio subscription for purposes of acceptance testing, provided that the use of the software otherwise complies with all Visual Studio subscription licensing terms. It is rare that someone whose primary role is designing, developing, or testing the software would also qualify as an “end user.”
Acceptance testing must not use live production data. If a copy of any live production data is used, then that copy of the data must be discarded after the testing is complete and cannot be incorporated back into the live production data.
End users can download the free Feedback Client for TFS and access the software to review your application and provide feedback. A Visual Studio subscription is not needed for end users accessing the software in order to provide feedback. The end user is not testing the application, which would require a Visual Studio subscription.
How Certain Software Can Be Distributed to Others within Your Applications
Some software, such as the Microsoft .NET Framework, can be distributed.
Components of software products included in Visual Studio subscriptions that can be distributed (either within an application or as separate files) without royalty are identified in the REDIST.TXT file associated with the product. Components that can be distributed to non-Microsoft platforms are identified in the OTHER-DIST.TXT file associated with the product. Code identified as distributable that has the extension .lib cannot be directly distributed; it must be linked into the application. However, the resulting output can be distributed.
You may also:
• Modify and distribute source code and objects for code marked as “sample” or “Code Snippet”.
• Distribute the unmodified output of Microsoft Merge Modules for use with an application’s .msi file.
• Distribute the MDAC_TYP.EXE file containing core data access components (such as the Microsoft SQL Server OLE DB provider and ODBC driver).
• Distribute the object version of C++ libraries (Microsoft Foundation Classes, Active Template Libraries, and C runtimes).
For a complete list of components that can be distributed and the restrictions that apply, see Distributable Code in the Universal License Terms section of the Microsoft Licensing Product Use Rights (PUR) or the Distributable Code section of the Microsoft End User License Agreement (EULA) for retail Visual Studio subscriptions.
When Windows on the “Developer Desktop” Requires a Separate License
In most situations, Windows used for the main PC (or set of PCs) must be licensed separately from the Visual Studio subscription due to mixed use—both design, development, testing, and demonstration of your programs (the use allowed under the Visual Studio subscription license) and some other use. Using the software in any other way, such as for doing email, playing games, or editing a document is another use and is not allowed under the Visual Studio subscription license. When there is mixed use the underlying operating system must be licensed normally by purchasing a regular copy of Windows such as the one that came with a new OEM PC.
When Virtual Environments Require a Separate License
If a physical machine running one or more virtual machines is used entirely for development and test, then the operating system used on the physical host system can be subscriber software. However, if the physical machine or any of the VMs hosted on that physical system are used for other purposes, then both the operating system within the production environment VMs and the operating system for the physical host must be licensed separately. The same holds true for other software used on the system—for example, Microsoft SQL Server obtained as subscriber software can only be used to design, develop, test, and demonstrate your programs.
Monitoring and Managing Development and Testing Environments Requires Management Licenses
Often Microsoft System Center is used to monitor or manage machines running in a development or testing environment. This is the normal use of System Center and requires normal System Center management licenses, which are acquired separately. This use—monitoring and managing machines—is not allowed under any Visual Studio subscription. The installation of the System Center agents on these development and testing machines must be performed by a licensed Visual Studio subscriber (because any use of the software, including the operating system, requires a license), but System Center operators can remotely monitor these machines without a Visual Studio subscription.
Additionally, for Visual Studio subscriptions that include System Center, subscribers can use the System Center software to design, develop, test, and demonstrate their programs.
Perpetual Use Rights
Visual Studio subscriptions purchased through certain channels provide perpetual use rights that allow subscribers to continue using certain software products obtained through an active subscription after the subscription has expired. However, subscribers are not entitled to updates for that software after the subscription has expired, nor do they continue to have access to software or product keys through Subscriber Downloads or to other subscription services that are a benefit of having an active subscription. Product keys that were acquired while the subscription was active can continue being used until all activations for those keys have been exhausted. If a Visual Studio subscription is transferred or sold, any perpetual use rights are transferred to the new party and the seller can no longer use the software.
Generally, Visual Studio subscriptions that do not provide perpetual use rights include:
• Visual Studio cloud subscriptions
• Visual Studio subscriptions purchased through Enterprise Agreement Subscription, Open Value Subscription, Campus Agreement, or other “subscription” Volume Licensing programs
• Visual Studio subscriptions offered through the Microsoft Partner Network to competency partners and to Microsoft Action Pack partners.
In the above cases, subscribers can no longer use any software provided through the Visual Studio subscription after it expires.
Reassignment of the License
The Visual Studio subscription or Visual Studio Professional standalone license can be reassigned to another user—such as when a person leaves the team—but not within 90 days of the last assignment for purchases through retail and Volume Licensing channels.
Distribution of the Software as Part of an Installation Image
Physical or virtual machine images provide a quick and convenient way to set up client or server machines. However, when the software is used to create images and the Visual Studio subscription through which that software is licensed was purchased through a retail channel, then those installation images cannot be distributed to others. This restriction holds true even if the target users that will install and/or use the image also have appropriate Visual Studio subscriptions for the software contained within the installation image. These users can, of course, download the software from Subscriber Downloads directly and create their own installation image.
If the Visual Studio subscription was obtained by an organization through a Volume Licensing program, then the installation image may be distributed among users licensed for the appropriate Visual Studio subscription level within the same organization only, including to external contractors working for the organization who have been temporarily assigned a Visual Studio subscription from the organization’s available licenses. Redistribution of the software to 3rd parties is not allowed in any form, including physical and virtual machine images, DVDs and ISO files.
Assigning Visual Studio Subscriptions to External Entities (e.g. solution providers, independent contractors, offshore development centers)
If an organization hires external contractors to work within their development team, then the contractors must have appropriate Visual Studio subscriptions for any software that they will be using. Customers must also ensure their development and test environments are completely and accurately licensed in situations when customers have outsourced all or part of their development and test environment to another entity in different geographies. Customers must track assignments for all external entities (e.g. solution providers, independent contractors, offshore development centers) and could be asked to report usage of all subscriptions assigned to external entities.
Visual Studio Subscriptions through Microsoft Partner Network(MPN)
Visual Studio subscriptions offered through the Microsoft Partner Network 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.
Product Keys and Installation Software
Visual Studio subscribers can use any installation software as long as that software is from an authorized source (such as Subscriber Downloads, Volume License Service Center, or official Microsoft DVDs) and the software product is covered under the user’s Visual Studio subscription. For example, a Visual Studio subscriber could choose to use his organization’s Volume Licensing media for installing Windows in a test lab, which may be more convenient due to the Volume Licensing product key having higher activation limits than the key made available through Subscriber Downloads.
Using Software Sourced from Subscriber Downloads but Licensed Under a Production License
Often, it is more expedient to deploy a server running a fully-tested application directly into production. Normal licenses must be acquired for this use (such as a Windows Server license and Client Access Licenses) because the Visual Studio subscription license is per user and is generally limited to development and testing. However, the installed software and the product key used to activate that software, where applicable, can be from Subscriber Downloads, even though the licenses to use that software in production must be acquired separately from the Visual Studio subscription.
Many software products offered via Subscriber Downloads require activation, a process which validates that the software being installed is genuine Microsoft software (and not a corrupted copy) by connecting to Microsoft servers online. Activation happens after the product key has been entered and has been validated for the product being installed. Be careful to not confuse activation with licensing; activation has no way of determining whether you are licensed to use the product (such as Windows 8, offered through a Visual Studio subscription) or whether you’re using the software in a way that is allowed under your license (such as using Windows 8 for developing an application). For more information, see Product Keys and Activation.
Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2018 Licensing
Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2018 is the backbone of Microsoft’s Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) solution, providing core services such as version control, work item tracking, reporting, and automated builds. Through its deep integration with Visual Studio 2017 development tools, Team Foundation Server helps organizations communicate and collaborate more effectively throughout the process of designing, building, testing, and deploying software—ultimately leading to increased productivity and team output, improved quality, and greater visibility into the application lifecycle.
Microsoft licenses Team Foundation Server under the Server/Client Access License (CAL) licensing model—that is, organizations must have a license for each running instance of Team Foundation Server (i.e., the server) and, with certain exceptions, a Team Foundation Server 2018 CAL for each user or device that accesses Team Foundation Server.
Obtaining Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2018
Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2018 can be obtained in two ways:
• Visual Studio subscriptions. Visual Studio Enterprise Subscription, Visual Studio Professional with MSDN Subscription, Visual Studio Test Professional Subscription, MSDN Platforms, and all Visual Studio cloud subscribers can download and deploy one instance of Team Foundation Server 2018. These same Visual Studio subscribers are granted a Team Foundation Server 2018 User CAL to be used within their organization (it is not valid for use of Team Foundation Server acquired by a different organization).
• Volume Licensing. Team Foundation Server is offered through Microsoft Volume Licensing programs, as outlined in the How to Buy section above.
While this section of the document focuses on Team Foundation Server 2018 licensing, these terms also relate to Team Foundation Server 2018 Express, which is free, except as noted and except for features that are not included in Team Foundation Server 2018 Express.
General Guidance for Licensing Team Foundation Server
There are a number of points to understand when planning to license Team Foundation Server:
• For each server license of Team Foundation Server 2018 that you acquire, you must assign that license to one of your servers. You may run one instance of the server software in one physical or virtual operating system environment (OSE) on the licensed server.
• The Team Foundation Server license also includes certain additional software which can be run on any number of machines (physical or virtual). Additional software includes:
• Team Foundation Build Services (for running a build server)
• Team Explorer (for installing with Visual Studio to connect to Team Foundation Server)
• You must acquire an operating system license for each machine running Team Foundation Server 2018, any of the additional software, or the SQL Server database for Team Foundation Server. You must acquire an operating system license even when your use of Team Foundation Server is licensed as part of a Visual Studio subscription. For Windows Server-based deployments where Windows Server is licensed on a Server/CAL basis, each user or device that accesses Team Foundation Server data (on a read or write basis) must also have a Windows Server CAL.
• One instance of the Microsoft SQL Server 2018 Standard software can be used as the Team Foundation Server 2018 database, except for Team Foundation Server 2018 Express which uses SQL Server 2018 Express. Team Foundation Server 2018 uses Microsoft SQL Server as its data repository and provides the right to deploy one instance of SQL Server 2018SQL Server 2018 Standard software per Team Foundation Server 2018 server license. This is not a separate SQL Server license. This instance of SQL Server can run on a separate server but can only be used by Team Foundation Server—not for any other purposes. If you do use the SQL Server software for purposes other than Team Foundation Server, then you must license that use separately.
• SQL Server Enterprise can be used for Team Foundation Server 2018, but must be licensed separately. If you wish to use a different edition of SQL Server (such as Enterprise) as the Team Foundation Server 2018 database, then you must acquire that license separately.
• SQL Server Reporting Services for Team Foundation Server 2018 can be accessed without a SQL Server CAL, using the SQL Server software supplied under the Team Foundation Server license. Normally, accessing SQL Server Reporting Services requires a separate SQL Server CAL, but access to Team Foundation Server 2018 reports under the Team Foundation Server 2018 license is allowed without a SQL Server CAL as long as the SQL Server software running is the version and edition supplied under the Team Foundation Server license (i.e., SQL Server 2018 Standard) or is licensed separately per core. In all cases, Team Foundation Server CALs are not required for users who are only accessing Team Foundation Server reports.
Server Licensing Requirements for Team Foundation Server
For each Team Foundation Server license you acquire, you can run one instance of the server software in one physical or virtual operating system environment. Before you run the software, you must assign the Team Foundation Server license to one of your servers.
Reassignment of the Server License
The Team Foundation Server 2018 license can be reassigned to another server, but not within 90 days of the last assignment. However, in the event of a permanent hardware failure, it can be reassigned sooner.
Using Visual Studio on the Build Server
If you have one or more licensed users of Visual Studio Enterprise Subscription, Visual Studio Professional with MSDN Subscription, or any Visual Studio cloud subscription then you may also install the Visual Studio software as part of Team Foundation Server 2018 Build Services. This way, you do not need to purchase a Visual Studio license to cover the running of Visual Studio on the build server for each person whose actions initiate a build.
Client Licensing Requirements for Team Foundation Server
With certain exceptions, each user or device directly or indirectly accessing Team Foundation Server must have a User CAL or a Device CAL.
When a Client Access License is Not Required
A Team Foundation Server CAL is not required in the following scenarios:
• Entering work items through any interface, and viewing and editing any work items.
• Accessing Team Foundation Server reports. Any read-only data that comes from the Team Foundation Server SQL data warehouse or is surfaced through SQL Server Analysis Services would be a report, but custom reports could also be written to call into Team Foundation Server APIs and could also join that data with other data sources.
• Accessing Team Foundation Server using Microsoft System Center Operations Manager. This enables operations staff to take operational issues encountered in production and raise them as issues to the development team, automatically creating a work item in Team Foundation Server.
• Accessing Team Foundation Server using the Feedback Client for TFS. This allows the user to provide Feedback about an application into Team Foundation Server.
• Viewing static data that has been manually distributed outside of Team Foundation Server.
• Up to two devices or users that only access Team Foundation Server to perform system administration, such as creating Team Projects or Project Collections.
• Up to five users for the free Team Foundation Server Express. However, a CAL is required for the 6th user and any subsequent user.
• Accessing Visual Studio Team Foundation Server through a pooled connection from another integrated application or service. This removes licensing friction from integrating TFS with LOB applications like customer ticketing solutions and other ALM solutions.
• Accessing Team Foundation Service via a Team Foundation Server 2018 Proxy. This enables Team Foundation Service subscribers with bandwidth latency issues to deploy Team Foundation Server 2018 Proxy to access the service
• Providing approvals to stages as part of the Release Management pipeline
In all cases, however, the user must still have the necessary CALs for Windows Server (when Windows Server is used as the operating system for Team Foundation Server, and where Windows Server is licensed under Server/CAL), SharePoint Server (when the user accesses a Team Foundation Server Project Portal running SharePoint Server), or SQL Server (when Team Foundation Server uses a version or edition of SQL Server other than SQL Server 2018 Standard), where applicable.
Server Features Requiring More than a CAL
Using the Test Management or Package Management features in Team Foundation Server 2018 requires either a particular level of Visual Studio subscription or a purchase through the Visual Studio Marketplace . A CAL is not sufficient to use these features.
External contractors with Visual Studio Enterprise Subscription, Visual Studio Enterprise – annual, Visual Studio Enterprise – monthly, MSDN Platforms, or Visual Studio Test Professional Subscription subscriptions supplied by their organization can also access these features in Team Foundation Servers running at other organizations. However, a Team Foundation Server CAL purchased by the organization that licensed the Team Foundation Server must be assigned to each of these users.
Choosing between User CALs and Device CALs
Organizations may choose to purchase User CALs or Device CALs, or a combination of both. User CALs may be appropriate when one user accesses Team Foundation Server from multiple devices or locations; device CALs are typically used when multiple individuals share a single device to access Team Foundation Server. Although a Device CAL permits multiple users on a single device, it may only be used by a single user at a time.
Multiplexing and Pooling Do Not Reduce the Need for CALs
Hardware and software that reduce the number of users or devices that directly access Team Foundation Server (sometimes referred to as “multiplexing” or “pooling”) do not reduce the number of Team Foundation Server CALs that are required. End users or devices that access Team Foundation Server in any way−other than the When a Client License is not Required scenarios noted above−are required to have the appropriate licenses, regardless of whether they are using a direct or indirect connection to the software.
With the introduction of the new web-based Release Management capabilities in Team Foundation Server 2018, the ability to manage and configure releases is available to all users with a Team Foundation Server CAL, including Visual Studio subscribers. There is no charge for users (whose access level is configured as Stakeholder) to approve releases.
Each Team Foundation Server can deploy one release at a time using Release Management, included as part of the server license. Each of the following provides one additional concurrent deployment: Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers (Visual Studio Enterprise Subscription, Visual Studio Enterprise – annual, or Visual Studio Enterprise – monthly), and paid Visual Studio Team Services Build and Release Private Pipelines.
Downgrade Rights for Team Foundation Server
Microsoft provides downgrade rights for Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2018. This enables you to use an earlier version of Team Foundation Server (such as Team Foundation Server 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013,2015 or 2017) in place of the licensed version of Team Foundation Server 2018, and an earlier version of SQL Server 2018 Standard as the database supporting Team Foundation Server. The downgrade rights also apply to Team Foundation Server CALs, so a Team Foundation Server 2018 CAL can be used for accessing earlier versions of Team Foundation Server.
Team Foundation Server under Software Assurance
As is standard with Software Assurance, if you had a Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 license and CAL that was under Software Assurance as of the availability of Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2018 in Volume Licensing, then your server and CAL become a Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2018 server and CAL; otherwise, you are required to purchase a Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2018 server and CAL to access Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2018.
Connecting Visual Studio Team Services to a Local Build Server
It is possible to set up your Visual Studio Team Services account to run builds on a local server running Team Foundation Build Services. The licensing requirements for the server running the Build server are no different whether it is receiving commands from a local Team Foundation Server or from Visual Studio Team Services—at a minimum it requires a Team Foundation Server license, an operating system license (plus potentially CALs), and all users whose actions cause builds to run require Team Foundation Server CALs. Therefore, users who check in code to Visual Studio Team Services which in turn kicks off a build to the local Build server need Team Foundation Server CALs. A Team Foundation Server CAL is provided for each paid Visual Studio Team Services user.
Methods of Accessing Team Foundation Server
The Team Foundation Server 2018 data can be accessed in several ways, including:
• Visual Studio Team Explorer, which is included with Visual Studio Enterprise, Visual Studio Professional, Visual Studio Community (which is free), and Visual Studio Test Professional.
• Visual Studio Team Explorer Everywhere, which enables you to connect to Team Foundation Server from an Eclipse-based environment. Team Explorer Everywhere is free.
• Visual Studio Team Web Access, which is a browser-based version of the Team Explorer client.
• Microsoft Office Excel or Microsoft Office Project, which can access Team Foundation Server using add-ins for those programs that are provided with Team Explorer.
• PowerPoint Storyboarding add-in, which is free.
• Programmatically, as enabled through the Team Foundation Server 2018 application programming interfaces (APIs) or by other means.
No matter which method you use to access Team Foundation Server you must acquire a license for the client, other than for scenarios noted in the When a Client Access License is Not Required section above.
Companies can take advantage of the inherent flexibility and scalability of Team Foundation Server to support development teams of all sizes. For example, Team Foundation Server can be deployed on a desktop system, on a single server, or in a two-tier configuration. Regardless of which approach is used, Team Foundation Server requires an operating system and a database, each of which have their own licensing implications.
Multi-Server (Two-Tier) Deployment
You can deploy Team Foundation Server 2018 in a two-tier configuration, where one tier hosts Team Foundation Server and the other tier hosts the SQL Server back-end. As outlined above, the operating system for each tier must be licensed separately, and one instance of SQL Server 2018 Standard can be deployed for each license of Team Foundation Server that you acquire.
When deployed in a two-tier environment, you can increase reliability by maintaining a second application-tier server in a warm or cold standby mode. In warm standby mode, the failover machine is running but a system administrator manually activates the failover functionality. In a cold standby setup, the failover system is usually off until an administrator turns it on and activates its failover functionality. Organizations considering warm or cold standby scenarios may want to consider a load-balanced application tier instead, with both servers in an active role by default.
You can increase the availability of Team Foundation Server in a two-tier configuration by using SQL Server clustering on the data tier—in this case comprised of two servers. Supported in SQL Server 2018 Standard and higher, clustering provides high availability by combining several physical SQL Server instances into one virtual instance. In a clustered, two-server data tier configuration, Windows Server and SQL Server 2018 licenses are required for each server but no additional Team Foundation Server CALs are required. Each server in the cluster running SQL Server 2018 Standard counts as a separate instance of SQL Server, so you need to have enough Team Foundation Server 2018 licenses to cover the number of instances, or acquire licenses for SQL Server separately.
Team Foundation Build Services
Build automation functionality in Team Foundation Server enables the software to run automated builds on the same server or a separate system, along with the ability to run quality or performance tests as part of the build process. Implementing a “build server” is accomplished using the build agent which is included with Team Foundation Server 2018. The build server can be separate from the server running Team Foundation Server, and no Team Foundation Server CAL or server license is required for the build server.
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