The incentive of promotional pricing
The price for the entire Visual Studio suite for new subscribers without MSDN, he said, is a little more than $10,000 -- less than the cost of one load testing or modeling tool from a competitor.
Microsoft's Sridharan said most small organizations don't use advanced load testing and modeling tools. Those that do need such tools can still get them for less from Microsoft than from a third-party vendor, he said.
For individual developers, Microsoft still offers Professional and Standard editions. There is also an Express edition for $49. Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition and Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the Microsoft Office System both cost $799. The upgrade cost is $549. The Standard Edition costs $299 and the upgrade is $199.
Not what many expected to pay
One expert said the main gripe of some customers is that the pricing news for Visual Studio 2005 came as a complete surprise.
"The good news is that Microsoft got people really excited about the features," said Greg DeMichillie, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, in Kirkland, Wash. "The bad news is that no one knew the [pricing and licensing changes] were coming."
Windows developers were accustomed to paying less than $1,000 for Visual Studio Pro. "There has never been a Visual Studio product where a company is looking at somewhere between $4,000 and $8,000 per developer," DeMichillie said.
Another potential issue for enterprise customers is subscription sharing. In the past, he said, Microsoft has turned a blind eye to developers sharing MSDN subscriptions, since they are using them to build Windows programs. Now that its developer tools are getting pricier, Microsoft is likely to make sure companies comply with subscription rules against sharing. "This could amount to a big chunk of money," DeMichillie said.
Who faces the biggest hit?
While Microsoft's tools may still be priced less than some competitors' tools, that is of little consolation for some smaller shops, which will be hit hardest by the price changes, he said.
Not all customers will need the full Visual Studio Team System suite. For companies that only want source-code control and a bug-tracking database, there are more inexpensive choices, he said. "Folks that want Team System need to be interested in the broader features, such as the automated testing and project management features," DeMichillie said.