I'm curious because I notice that the Ultimate subscription costs $12,000... for one year (after that, it's $3,800 to renew). Looking at the subscription chart, you do get quite a bit of software that is normally expensive by itself.

Is the package meant for 1 person or is it meant for like a business-type bundle of some sort? If it's the latter, I can kind of understand that, but I can't fathom where anybody is going to have 12 grand to plop down on something that only lasts 12 months.

Anyway, yeah, my question is, is this a good deal to anyone at all? Maybe it's just me not having any industry experience and this is actually a steal and millions of companies should be buying it right now, but I just can't personally picture this being worth the money.

  • 1
    Warning: This post is very out of date. MSDN and Visual Studio pricing has changed significantly since this answer was posted.
    – Brian
    Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 19:19

4 Answers 4


The most expensive MSDN option ($12,000 in the US) gives you Visual Studio Ultimate. There are several questions on Stack Overflow [eg this one] about whether VS Ultimate is worth it. (The answer is a rousing IT DEPENDS, of course.) Even if you only got the software for a year (and you don't, you have it forever, which in most cases means 3 years and then you'll go on to another version) it's $50/day. If it saves you an hour a day, you're ahead, right?

If the price gives you pause, there are lots of ways to get it for less or for free. [This question on Programmers for example.] You could get a version less than Ultimate, all the way down to Express which is free. You could join BizSpark or WebSpark or DreamSpark, if you qualify. Your firm could join the Partner Program, either at the Registered level and buy Action Pack, or at the Certified level and get 5 MSDN licenses for $3500. You could become an MVP and be given a free copy (this is actually probably the most expensive way to do it.)

And yes, many companies buy some sort of MSDN (not always Ultimate) for each developer. And find it worthwhile. I could probably get by with Premium but I use something from Ultimate probably once a month.


You can still use the software you get through the subscription even after it expires. You just have to make sure you have all of it downloaded and the license keys on hand. So that $12000 buys you a lot of software. If you're a contractor, you might find it very useful/justifiable. If you're a major software company and you want your developers to use Visual Studio Ultimate and whatever else a subscription offers (there are also training packages included, for example), then you buy it for your developers.

Far as I know, MSDN subscriptions are for individuals. Companies can get in on the volume licensing instead.


MSDN think that MSDN Ultimate is worth the money if you're a professional programmer, but if your company provides one for you it's the best deal.

MSDN is more worth the the money if you buy the premium one and buy Visual Studio Ultimate seperatly.MSDN Premium has most of the features that MSDN Ultimate has. Visual studio ultimate can be less than $2000.

You can see the diffrences on this site: http://msdn.microsoft.com/subscriptions/buy.aspx

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    That's only about $7500! You can save more than $1500
    – steven
    Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 14:32

In short it depends on what kind of development you are doing. If it's (limited to) basic windows/web development then it may not be cost effective. However if you need to support a wide field of development activities (SharePoint, Web, Desktop) that may use other tools such as SQL Server it may pay for it self.

As an example I currently work for a consulting company and I am supporting projects that are developing SharePoint applications for WSS 3.0 on Win 2003, a WPF application, and a ASP.NET MVC app backed by oracle. The MSDN subscription helps in that I can get an OS license to run a SharePoint VM for dev purposes. I've also got a different VM setup for development of the MVC project. If you looked at purchasing a license for each of those OS's you would most likely be quickly pushing the basic MSDN price. Add in a new project that requires SQL Server and you are probably there.

I am aware of a group that is trying to convince their manager that MSDN will be cheaper in the long run for them with setting up a proper SharePoint development activity then trying to purchase individual licenses.

Something else to consider is the fact that having access to try out the various MS products (versus a short term demo) and what that may or could mean to your future product development may prove useful.

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