Microsoft has struggled with the best way to sell Visual Studio's application lifecycle management ever since it introduced Team System against IBM's Rational four years back. As the company prepares to release Visual Studio 2010 for Windows 7, Office 2010 and a new line Windows servers about to come on tap, Microsoft is taking another stab.
This time, the company is spicing the packaging mix by throwing in hours of access to its Azure cloud plus upgrades to a new, top-of-the-line Visual Studio ALM package.
The changes will be unveiled today, as Microsoft announces the second Visual Studio 2010 beta and .NET Framework 4 beta two have been released to MSDN subscribers with everyone else getting code on October 21.
Also, Microsoft will announce Visual Studio 2010 will officially launch on March 22, 2010.
Visual Studio 2010 and.NET Framework 4 have been promised as "the most significant release" Microsoft's had of the tools suite and framework "in a number of years."
Microsoft says this about all products, but we assume this time it's referring to Visual Studio 2005 and Team System 2005 that debuted Microsoft's ALM push and came before Visual Studio 2008.
New features include Windows 7 and SharePoint 2010 tools, drag-and-drop bindings with Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation, the inclusion of the Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR) for programming with scripting languages, and support for parallel programming.
It's the packaging mix that sees the most change, though.
Microsoft will chop nine Visual Studio SKUs down to four, with the focus on ALM. Microsoft does not seem to be tampering with the Express editions, which add another five SKUs.
Visual Studio Development Edition, Database Edition, Architect Edition and Test Edition will go. These will give way to Visual Studio 2010 Professional priced $799 and no MSDN subscription option, Professional priced $1,199 for a new MSDN subscription, Premium priced $5,469 for a new MSDN subscription, and the new completely Ultimate Visual Studio SKU that will be priced $11,924 for a new MSDN subscription.
You can compare these MSDN subscription prices with those for Visual Studio 2008, here.
Senior director of developer marketing Dave Mendlen said Microsoft is cutting the number of Visual Studio SKUs following customer feedback. Mendlen said the new packages reflect the way developers work, by combining code, test, architect and collaborate options. This is a reversal, as the previous philosophy was separate Visual Studios for separate roles.
What do you get in your new packages?
Visual Studio 2010 Professional minus the MSDN subscription will feature core developer features, the integrated development environment, platform support and parallel debugging. With the MSDN sub, you'll actually get the current and previous client and server operating system runtimes.
Premium will include code analysis, database deployment, user interface testing and test impact analysis. The addition of the MSDN sub will give you the server platforms for Dynamics, SharePoint and Exchange, plus Office, Expression and Team Foundation Server features.
Ultimate will include all these features, plus UML tools, historical debugging, manual testing products and load testing along with Visual Studio 2010 Team Foundation Server.
Microsoft will chuck Azure cloud compute time, storage and data transfer into the MSDN Premium subscription. Developers will get 750 computing hours per month for eight months - time that will commence once Azure becomes commercially available, expected next month.
The company will also try to upsell you under it's so-called Ultimate offer. Developers on the soon-to-be canned Visual Studio 2008 Team System editions or on Visual Studio 2008 who splash out and upgrade to the Premium-level MSDN subscription before March 22 will get Ultimate at no cost when it ships. Those on Visual Studio 2008 Professional and MSDN Professional now will get Visual Studio 2010 Premium at no extra cost.