Rights to use Visio Premium and Project Professional for production purposes are being removed from two high-end Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscriptions, Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN and Visual Studio Premium with MSDN. The change began affecting new and renewing subscribers starting Oct. 1, 2012. While users of either MSDN subscription continue to have rights to install and use Visio Premium and Project Professional to develop and test applications or solutions that incorporate either application, use of the applications for other business purposes will likely require separate license purchases.

MSDN Subscriptions Are Generally for Development Only

Visual Studio (VS) is the most popular integrated development environment for Microsoft's platforms. Generally, an MSDN subscription is acquired in conjunction with a specific edition of VS similar to the way Software Assurance (SA) is acquired for other Microsoft products. MSDN subscriptions are used to upgrade to the latest version of VS and obtain rights to use other Microsoft software for development and testing purposes.

Developers and other IT personnel with VS Ultimate with MSDN and VS Premium with MSDN subscriptions have also been able to use Office Professional Plus, Visio Premium, and Project Professional, along with client licensing for Project Server, for production purposes on one of their desktops.

Visio is Microsoft's client application for creating business and technical diagrams, and it is often used by developers in production to diagram and document project management, application workflow, systems and development architecture, and data modeling, among others.

Project is Microsoft's client for project managers that provides project planning, scheduling, and analysis functions and integrates with Project Server; it is often used by developers in production to document timelines and workflow for application development. Managers and administrators use Project and Project Server to plan and track development efforts for multiple developers and multiple projects.

Change Impacts Current Subscribers

Customers who purchased MSDN subscriptions prior to Oct. 1, 2012, can continue to use Visio Premium 2010 and Project Professional 2010 for production use through the term of their MSDN subscription. Additionally, Enterprise Agreement (EA) customers who started using an MSDN subscription prior to Oct. 1, 2012, may add, or "true-up," licenses that will include production use rights for Visio and Project; those rights will expire at the end of the EA.

New and renewing MSDN subscriptions put in place after Oct. 1, 2012, are granted production use rights for Office Professional Plus 2013 only. Subscribers who have been using Visio, Project, and Project Server through earlier production use rights will need to purchase separate, stand-alone licenses (see the chart "Visio and Project Stand-alone Prices") and reinstall using different software media. Visio and Project will continue to be available to customize and incorporate into applications.

A number of MSDN subscribers will continue their subscriptions regardless of Visio and Project use rights because they do not use—or they do not need to continue to use—Visio and Project for production work. Customers who renew their MSDN subscriptions and who do not need Visio or Project must remove those applications or use them only for development and testing.

Others might consider allowing their subscriptions to expire to retain perpetual use rights for the software obtained through MSDN, including Visio and Project for production use. However, purchasing a new MSDN subscription is far more expensive than renewing the MSDN subscription and licensing Visio and Project separately, and reinstallation of the MSDN software is limited by the number of activation keys remaining at the end of the subscription.


A Visual Studio 2012 and MSDN licensing white paper is available for download from www.microsoft.com/download/details.aspx?id=13350.

The Microsoft official Product Use Rights (PUR) document can be downloaded from www.microsoft.com/licensing/about-licensing/product-licensing.aspx#tab=1.

Visual Studio 2012 is discussed in "Visual Studio 2012 Modernizes Development" on page 9 of the Dec. 2012 Update.

Capabilities and features for Visual Studio editions are compared at www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/eng/products/compare.