Can someone clarify the following things for me ?

Let's say I want to build a website and add publicity to it so I can make money out of my work.
I would use Html5 for the interface and C# with ASP.NET for the background programming.
I would use Visual Studio as my IDE and SQL server as a database.

This is just an example on the top of my head but I don't know where to start for the licenses.

Do I need one :

  • For VisualStudio and SQLServer only ?
  • For VisualStudio, SQLServer and pay some kind of rights for Asp.net ?
  • The whole package.. Both VisualStudio, SQlServer plus rights for Asp.net AND C# ?

I know this question is a little vague but I really don't know where to start and the opinion of someone with experience int this might give me just the help I need to get started.

  • 1
    Are you referring to licensing the software from Microsoft or releasing your project under a particular license? They are very different questions and the first is off-topic and you don't provide enough information for the second.
    – Thomas Owens
    Commented Oct 14, 2012 at 20:49
  • @ThomasOwens to tell the truth I don't really get the difference between both questions.. My question is once I buy VisualStudio and SQLserver, do I have ANY more 'licensing' fees when I put my website online ?
    – PhaDaPhunk
    Commented Oct 14, 2012 at 20:51
  • @PhaDaPhunk - No of course not. You only have to pay for the cost to host the website. ASP.NET doesn't cost anything to use it.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Oct 15, 2012 at 12:39

3 Answers 3


You can write .NET and T-SQL software in notepad and sell the result, same goes if you use IDEs. There are no licensing fee's for software based on the tools in .NET to create it, there may be if you try to release your software with third party assemblies that do not have free redistribution, but all the MS .NET and ASP.NET components are free to redistribute with appropriate license docs attached, not that you need to buy them.

Also you obviously need buy licenses for any tools if you want to use them, like hosting it yourself using mssql means you need the license for the server you're running, but you don't need another license to sell the database file from your app.


There is no licensing fee for Visual Studio - either use the Express version, or buy one of the commercial versions. The usage of the code you write with VS is irrelevant.

There is no licensing fee for C# or ASP.NET.

If you use an edition of SQL Server other than SQL Server Express, that costs money.

The Windows OS on your server costs money.

However, if you are renting hosting, the SQL Server and Windows licensing is a matter for the hosting company, they buy SQL Server and Windows, and incorporate that into what they charge you for hosting.

So unless you are hosting on your own hardware setup, and just renting rack space, you really don't have any licensing issues to worry about.

  • 1
    used to be you were not allowed to distribute or use commercially anything created using the Express editions. May want to check whether that's still the case before you start selling your work compiled and linked with it.
    – jwenting
    Commented Oct 15, 2012 at 5:33
  • @jwenting You are allowed to distribute and use commercially anything you create with the Express editions. See this question, this question, this question and many others
    – MarkJ
    Commented Oct 15, 2012 at 12:09
  • And this question about SQL Server Express specifically since that needs to go on the server
    – MarkJ
    Commented Oct 15, 2012 at 12:11
  • I actually found it very difficult to find a clear statement of this with regards to Visual Studio 2012 Express. But given that it has been explicitly spelled out with regards to 2010, I certainly believe it is still the same situation with 2012. Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 3:30

In short, once you have developed your application, there will be hosting sites that you most probably will deploy and host you web-application, and MS SQL database. Does you do NOT pay for licencing. The licencing is usually covered by the hosting services. Thus, you have to clearly understand what services are you getting in your agreement.

In regards to development tools and IDE's, you may always use Express version for FREE or buy MSDN subscription to lower your initial application development costs related to licencing.

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