Microsoft! Please, put down the rebrandogun. No one else needs to get hurt... But it's too late for Visual Studio Online

Now 'Visual Studio Codespaces': Prices sliced, but won't somebody think of the branded swag?

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Barely six months on from its grand unveiling, Microsoft is renaming its browser-based code botherer, Visual Studio Online and, more importantly, is trimming its prices.

Now shedding 'Online' in favour of 'Codespaces' to reflect "the true value of the service", the rent-your-own-dev-environment platform was originally revealed at last year's Ignite event and built on lessons learned from Visual Studio Code Remote Development.

Its purpose remains to provide on-demand development space that developers can access from pretty much anywhere with a Linux virtual machine lurking in Azure doing the heavy lifting.

There is also a private preview still running with the full-fat Visual Studio.

It's a neat way of bashing out a quick bit of a code with just a browser and internet connection for company. However, the cost of renting that environment can soon mount up, particularly when compared to something like Gitpod, which does something remarkably similar (using the Eclipse Foundation's Theia IDE) for anything from Free (with strings attached) for open-source developers, to €35/month for unlimited hours and 16 parallel workspaces.

You say workspace, they say codespace, let's call the whole thing off.

While Gitpod runs on Kubernetes clusters hosted by Google Cloud, an active codespace in Microsoftland requires a Linux instance (unless you self-host, in which case there is no charge). The standard instance (four cores and 8GB RAM) currently goes for $0.45/hour while the Premium version (eight cores and 16GB RAM) is $0.87. Both enjoy a 64GB SSD.

From next week those prices are tumbling, down to $0.17 and $0.34/hour respectively. Microsoft also added a new tier yesterday, imaginatively titled "Basic", which will cost $0.08/hour (it's $0.24 at the moment).

The team also recently made it possible to skip between the instance types.

While we're not entirely sure about the "spiffy" new name, Visual Studio Codespaces remains a handy collaborative tool, accessed either through the browser or a desktop version of Visual Studio Code.

The reduction in price might tip the balance away from self-hosting for some, but for those not so keen on the Microsoft ecosystem, Gitpod and its ilk remain an attractive alternative. ®

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