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Right Sizing Visual Studio Online Pricing

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Whether it is due to the advent of the cloud or simply a desire to see if it is a better business model, software licensing has been moving towards a subscription-based system.  The Visual Studio family of tools is part of this same phenomenon through Visual Studio Online (VSO) and Team Foundation Server.  Microsoft’s Brian Harry has introduced some pricing changes to these programs that has been brought about due to customer feedback.

These changes are going to take place on a staggered schedule, with the prices for TFS arriving when TFS 2015 is released and those for VS Online taking place in the next 4-6 weeks.

The first change is for Release Management, with pricing switching from per-processor/environment specific pricing to something closer to per-user.  The goal is to eliminate pricing complications that arise from a development team working with multiple virtual machines.  This pricing will change January 1, 2015, but Harry does not have final details as to what the new pricing will look like yet.

Starting in January any user of VSO can execute tests without requiring a paid license.  Managing test sets and using the full Microsoft Test Manager functionality will require a higher license but this should ease the incorporation of testers without additional costs.  TFS2015 users can run tests with a Client Access License. 

The existing price structure for load testing cloud applications has been reduced and the following changes will be phased in over the next few weeks.  VSO Cloud Load Testing users will start with 20,000 Virtual User Minutes per month, compared to 15,000 previously.  Additional minutes are charged on a tiered structure: 20,0001-2M at $0.0004 per minute,  2M+1 to 10M at $0.002, and all minutes over 10M at $0.0001.  Similarly the VSO build service will start with 60 minutes per month free and reduced rates per minute when the first hour is exceeded.

The 10 user limit to the current Visual Studio Online Professional license will be removed, eliminating Microsoft’s previous preference for larger development teams to use a MSDN membership.  Finally all of these changes will benefit from the ability to set monthly spending limits on Cloud Load Test and the Build Service so users are protected from the possibility of runaway processes charging a unexpectedly high bill.

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