While the basic Visio license model remains relatively unchanged for the 2013 version, Visio Standard 2013 and Visio Professional 2013 received price increases, and the Premium edition has been discontinued. The changes may have licensing and compliance impact for customers with existing installations.

Fewer Editions, Increased Prices

Visio is drawing software that customers use to manipulate and connect shapes, data sources, and process details to create flowcharts, diagrams, charts, and other business images. Visio 2013, the latest version, was released in conjunction with Office 2013 on Jan. 29, 2013, although it became available to volume licensing customers in Dec. 2012.

Many customers deploy a standardized Office image to everyone in the organization, but Visio is generally deployed only to creators and editors of documents, while others receive a Visio viewer or a browser with read-only capability.

Visio Standard edition, containing core-level functionality, is used for individual document creation where publishing through a server is not required. Visio Professional provides additional diagrams for project management, IT, and engineering purposes as well as enhanced capabilities such as real-time connection to external data sources, advanced programmability options, and publishing to browser users, known as Visio Services in SharePoint Server 2013.

Visio 2013 discontinues the Visio Premium edition last offered with Visio 2010. All features that were included in that top-tier edition, such as business rule validation, creating active and component subprocesses in diagrams, and business process modeling, have been included in Visio Professional 2013 edition. (See the illustration "Visio 2013 Software Assurance Transition".)

The price increases for Visio 2013 over the 2012 version's counterparts are 20% for Standard edition and 5% for Professional edition. The Visio 2013 licensing model and use rights are generally the same as Office 2013, including updated roaming use rights.

Visio Software Assurance Transitions

Customers who have Visio Standard or Professional licenses with Software Assurance (SA), Microsoft's subscription add-on to licenses for version upgrades and other benefits, have immediate rights to use the corresponding edition of Visio 2013. There is also an opportunity to purchase a step-up, or upgrade, from Standard to Professional at a 15% discount through the end of June 2013.

Generally, licenses with SA are converted to the latest version of a product. In the case of Visio 2013, however, Visio Premium licenses under SA as of Dec. 1, 2012, will remain Visio Premium 2010. Instead, additional rights are granted, allowing companies to deploy Visio Professional 2013 as a replacement.

A second option enables companies to convert their Premium edition SA subscriptions to the Professional edition at renewal. This "Software Assurance Migration Path" will eventually convert Premium licenses into Professional licenses.

Premium Has Compliance Concerns

Organizations using Visio may face compliance issues if they renew Visio Premium SA at the Professional level, attempt to add additional users, or find that they have the Premium edition installed by mistake.

Downgrade rights, the ability to use a prior version or edition, to use Premium 2010 by assigning a Professional 2013 license are limited to companies deployed on Visio Premium 2010 exclusively (no other edition deployed). Companies that have a mixture of Professional and Premium do not have these downgrade rights, making it difficult for such organizations to assign licensing for their Visio Premium installations.

Adding users may also be problematic. Only active Enterprise Agreement (EA) customers who have purchased Premium previously may acquire new Visio Premium licenses, although the ability to make those purchases discontinues at the end of the EA term.

IT personnel may also find that Visio Premium has been installed unintentionally. A major contributor is that Visio 2010 uses a common default installation key for all editions, and the Premium edition is installed by default. Customers who intended to install Standard or Professional can remediate through an administrative key update process. There are no reports of this issue for the 2013 version.

Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers using Visio Premium as part of their Visual Studio Premium with MSDN or Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN subscriptions may also be required to purchase new licenses and migrate to a different edition since rights to use Visio in production use were removed on Oct. 1, 2012.


The license model and use rights for Office 2013 are discussed in "Office 2013 Perpetual Licensing Largely Unchanged" on page 15 of the Jan. 2013 Update.

The removal of Visio rights with MSDN is outlined in "Production Use of Visio and Project Removed from MSDN" on page 22 of the Feb. 2013 Update.

Visio Premium 2010 default installation and remediation steps are detailed at blogs.technet.com/b/odsupport/archive/2010/12/03/volume-license-editions-of-visio-2010-install-premium-edition-by-default.aspx.

The Visio Professional step-up promotion is described at www.microsoft.com/en-in/licensing/VolumePricing/LocalPromotions.aspx.