Recently Microsoft has released a free version of Visual Studio: Visual Studio Community Edition

the license says



a. Individual license. If you are an individual working on your own applications to sell or for any other purpose, you may use the software to develop and test those applications.

b. Organization licenses. If you are an organization, your users may use the software as follows:

· Any number of your users may use the software to develop and test your applications released under Open Source Institute (OSI)-approved open source software licenses.

· Any number of your users may use the software to develop and test your applications as part of online or in person classroom training and education, or for performing academic research.

· If none of the above apply, and you are also not an enterprise (defined below), then up to 5 of your individual users can use the software concurrently to develop and test your applications.

· If you are an enterprise, your employees and contractors may not use the software to develop or test your applications, except for open source and education purposes as permitted above. An “enterprise” is any organization and its affiliates who collectively have either (a) more than 250 PCs or users or (b) more than one million US dollars (or the equivalent in other currencies) in annual revenues, and “affiliates” means those entities that control (via majority ownership), are controlled by, or are under common control with an organization.

c. Demo use. The uses permitted above include use of the software in demonstrating your applications.

d. Backup copy. You may make one backup copy of the software, for reinstalling the software.

As an "Individual" I'm interested in the clause "a", however it's not that clear and explicit. for me it sounds a bit restrictive as it does not cover a wide range of usage (Open source, freelance work, contribution to applications you don't own etc), the confusion comes exactly from the terme 'OWN' used in the sentence, I may be misinterpreting the whole thing as English is not my native language. So how would you interpret the sentence? Can we assume that we can use a software if the license does not make it clear, for example "it's not allowed to use it in this or that senario" as for "Entreprises" in the clause "b"?

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    It has always been possible to write applications in any Visual Studio edition for any purpose, including commercial applications for sale. What do you mean by "for whatever I want?" Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 23:31
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    @RobertHarvey Yes but this is a free version, and the sentence I mentioned in the license is a little confusing. think of a freelance developer how works on apps he doesn't own.
    – anouar.bag
    Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 23:36
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    It says that if you're not an "enterprise" (defined as having more than 250 PC's or one million dollars per year in sales), up to five other people can work on the software with you, and you can use the software you so create for any purpose. You can produce open-source software or perform training or research without any restrictions. Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 0:41
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    I interpret an "individual" to mean just you, and nobody else. Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 0:46
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    @RobertHarvey Well, suppose I'm a freelance developer and I'm doing some work for a client (for example: fixing some bugs in his applications) the client could be an enterprise or small business,so witch part of the license applies to me?
    – anouar.bag
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 0:55

2 Answers 2


It looks like size of your client is important.

From Visual Studio 2013 and MSDN Licensing Whitepaper - November-2014 page 10:

"Example 2: A Fortune 500 firm has outsourced the development of its store-locator mobile application to a small agency. The application is not an open source project. The agency has 5 employees working on the project and would like to use Visual Studio Community 2013. Since the agency is a contractor developing this application for the Fortune 500 firm, and since the application is not an open source project, the agency cannot use Visual Studio Community 2013 for developing and testing the application. "

So your small team can't develop customized app for big company. Don't know what about boxed apps. Don't know what about "individual".

I've done some more research and it looks like small teams can sell apps build with VS2013Comm. There are no restrictions in EULA who can buy it. I guess the key words are sell and outsource. When you sell, it's still your app. While outsourcing, usually app isn't yours but clients. That's my story and I'm stickin to it. Let me know if you think I'm wrong.

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    Well, that answers that. I had just signed up for the $45/mo. Visual Studio Online subscription which gives me (1) Professional license to use, and was briefly upset that the Community Edition offered extension support - until I saw this. My employer is a big company, and technically a Community Edition would not be good enough since I make stuff for them.
    – user50816
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 0:23
  • Nice analysis. I guess at this point it makes sense to stick to Qt Creator - given the quality of C++11 support in 2013.
    – SigTerm
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 5:22

Clause (a): "... working on your own applications ..." The example cited by Dudley is a situation where the small agency is creating what's known as a "work for hire" -- the work in question will belong to the Fortune 500 firm. Normally it is not the small agency's "own application". The agency cannot, for example, sell it or give it away on street corners or open-source it -- because the created work belongs to the Fortune 500 firm. Note that this would still be true if the company outsourcing the work to the small agency was a small company. US law is clear in these situations: works which normally would be the property of their creator(s) are the property of the outsourcing firm. The size of the outsourcing firm is not the controlling factor. It is the nature of the outsourcing relationship. (The same ownership rules prevail when you agree to do development work for a firm as a temporary contractor.)

In order for the small agency to claim the work as its own -- and therefore be able to argue that clause (a) applies -- it should have a provision in its contractual agreement with the firm that specifies the small agency retains ownership of the software and other intellectual property it creates during the engagement. It can also include a provision that grants the firm an unrestricted, perpetual right to use the software for its internal operations and/or make it available for use by its customers as a mobile store-locator.

Be aware that most firms will not readily agree to leave ownership of the intellectual property with the developer, and most other developers competing for the business will not ask for such terms.

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    This answer rambles along. I had to read it several times to make any sense of it. Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 21:41
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    Who is this Dudley you speak of? Are we talking about the comment where OP says "[...] suppose I'm a freelance developer and I'm doing some work for a client (for example: fixing some bugs in his applications) the client could be an enterprise or small business,so witch part of the license applies to me?"
    – Mathieu K.
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 12:19

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