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Where Do You Want to Go With Licensing Today?

Where Do You Want to Go With Licensing Today?

I have a very demanding boss - well, in terms of product purchases at least. This fact was most recently brought home to me as we planned the rollout of Visual Studio .NET 2003 to our entire development staff at Expand Beyond where I work.

I had put in a request for MSDN Universal Subscriptions for everyone. My understanding was as follows.... If you buy a stand-alone copy of Visual Studio .NET, you can install it on exactly one computer. In my case, I have a desktop (for computing power) and a laptop (for traveling) - so I would need two licenses.

Under MSDN, however, I am licensed as a developer - so I don't have to worry so much about the number of machines I use. I can install Visual Studio .NET on both of my work computers and my computer at home (for when I work there), if I like. This more than justifies the slight additional cost of an MSDN Universal Subscription, as far as I'm concerned.

"Let's see what we get for free," my boss said, and reminded me that we are Microsoft Certified Partners. As it turns out, Microsoft Certified Partners (at our level) get:

  • One MSDN Universal Subscription
  • Four additional user licenses
Armed with this knowledge, I quickly deduced that I could choose five developers to arm immediately with Visual Studio .NET 2003, while we awaited the purchase of additional licenses for our remaining staff. Unfortunately, the phraseology chosen by the Microsoft licensing advisor who had given this information to my boss included the word "concurrent" - as in, "you can have up to five concurrent users of Visual Studio .NET."

Now I remembered from previous go-arounds with Microsoft that they define "use" as simply having their software installed on a machine. I therefore maintained that we could have the software installed on a maximum of five machines. My boss, on the other hand, believed that the statement he had heard meant what most people who have used competing technologies would believe - that the software could be installed on any number of machines and remain legal...as long as the number of people using it at any given time never exceeded five.

Of course, I was right. But this got me to thinking - is this really the way that .NET developers want to see Microsoft development products licensed? I think we can all agree that the "one license = one installation on one machine for use by one person" model simply does not cut it. The MSDN subscription model is certainly an improvement on this.

But what other kinds of licensing arrangements have you seen that you prefer? I'll start a discussion for this at http://developer.sys-con.com, and look forward to hearing what you all have to say there!

This Month
In this issue we focus on Data - a topic near and dear to many of us. Microsoft's own Chris Mayo sets the stage with his excellent, "hands-on introduction" to SQL Server CE. If you want to get started with this technology, skip the documentation (really...no, really) and go straight for this article.

Our data focus doesn't stop there, though. David Regan's piece on ADO.NET on the middle tier gives you a thorough understanding of the technology's new disconnected approach to data transfer. Finally, Jon Box and Dan Fox give us a full explanation of Netcf's approach to data - other than SQL Server CE.

Enjoy! And as always, please send any comments, questions, or concerns directly to me at [email protected].

More Stories By Derek Ferguson

Derek Ferguson, founding editor and editor-in-chief of .Net Developer's Journal, is a noted technology expert and former Microsoft MVP.

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