Category Archives: VS Code

Licensing the Visual Studio family of products (or using them for free)

This is a cross-post from my other web site, Visual Studio Resources. If you as individual or your team are starting to develop paid or open source extensions for the Visual Studio family of products, the first thing is to know which products you can use legally:

A common question that you may have about using legally Visual Studio is which are your options. As always happens with licensing, it is a somewhat complex subject with quite a lot of options, but the good news is that if you are an individual developer or a small team, you can use all the family of Visual Studio products for free. I am not a lawyer, so validate all this information with a lawyer or legal department. The purpose of this post is to provide you the pointers to the different options.

The first thing to know are the products and editions:

  • Visual Studio
    • Visual Studio Community Edition
    • Visual Studio Professional Edition
    • Visual Studio Enterprise Edition
  • Visual Studio Code
  • Visual Studio Team Services
  • Team Foundation Server
    • Team Foundation Server
    • Team Foundation Server Express Edition

Licensing Visual Studio

Visual Studio Professional Edition and Enterprise Edition are paid versions, while the Community Edition is free for some scenarios.

You can compare the three editions on this page:

Compare Visual Studio 2015 Offerings

For Visual Studio Professional Edition and Enterprise Edition, you can compare the purchase options (Standalone for the Professional Edition, or Standard / Cloud subscriptions for both editions) on this page:

Visual Studio Purchasing Options

Visual Studio 2015 Community Edition is free under these scenarios (see Visual Studio Community):

  • For individuals: Any individual developer can use Visual Studio Community to create their own free or paid apps.
  • For non-enterprise organizations (meaning those with ≤250 PCs and ≤$1 Million US Dollars in annual revenue): Up to five users can use Visual Studio Community.
  • For enterprise organizations (meaning those with >250 PCs or >$1 Million US Dollars in annual revenue): Visual Studio Community can be used for the following scenarios:
    • In a classroom learning environment
    • For academic research
    • For contributing to open source projects

The exact details for the license terms of Visual Studio 2015 Community edition are here:


Licensing Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code is both open source and free. The detailed license is here:


Licensing Visual Studio Team Services

Visual Studio Team Services distinguishes three kind of users:

Licensing Team Foundation Server

If you don’t like the idea of using Team Services on the cloud, you can use Team Foundation Server on-premises:

  • For individuals or teams up to 5 developers, you can use the free Team Foundation Server Express, that you can download here.
  • For teams with more than 5 developers you need to pay for the additional developers as explained here: Buy access to Team Foundation Server or TFS Test hub.

Finally, the ultimate guide for licensing Visual Studio, Visual Studio Team Services or Team Foundation Server is this white paper:

Visual Studio 2015 Licensing White Paper

New sections about Visual Studio Code extensibility

As you may know by now, the Visual Studio family (Visual Studio, Visual Studio Team Services and Team Foundation Server) has a new member: Visual Studio Code. While still in its infancy (it’s not even 1.0 at the time of this writing), it is very promising by several reasons:

  • It is portable, available on Windows, Mac OSX and Linux. I only buy Mac computers since some years ago, running Windows virtualized, so I like the idea of running some Visual Studio flavor on Mac OSX.
  • It is modern, with a nice editor with intellisense, code assistance and navigation, debugger and themes.
  • It is extensible, being built with extensibility in mind from the beginning. If you are old enough in the VS extensibility world, you may remember that the first version of Visual Studio (2002) was not extensible through packages, only through add-ins, and Visual Studio didn’t get a proper “VS SDK” until VS 2005.
  • It has already tons of extensions on its own marketplace.
  • It is open source, with a GitHub repository. If you are extending an IDE, it’s tremendously helpful to have the source code of that IDE, to know how it works internally. I can’t count the hours that I have spent guessing how the Visual Studio IDE works or trying to debug its assemblies with some 3rd party tools.
  • It is clean, written in TypeScript and Node.js. The full Visual Studio was written originally in native C++, it was COM-based, and later it got a lot of managed C# code.
  • Did I mention that it’s free?

It’s easy to see its potential, given that ASP.NET Core is also multi-platform and there will be more and more applications that won’t require the Windows desktop.

So, I have added new sections about Visual Studio Code extensibility on this site, which aims to be best resource center to extend all the Visual Studio products. They are the following:

I will populate them with more content in the next months as it becomes available. And hopefully there will be even a section for Books at some point.