Microsoft today announced that it will consolidate its Visual Studio Premium and Ultimate offerings for enterprises into a single product once it launches Visual Studio 2015 later this year. Now called Visual Studio Enterprise With MSDN, this new version will include all of the features developers were getting with Visual Studio Ultimate (IntelliTrace in production, CodeLens support, etc.). It's also dropping the price of this new Enterprise version to slightly below the old price of the Premium edition. Enterprise with MSDN will now cost $5,999 for the first year and $2,569 for subsequent years (the old price for Premium was $6,119 for the first year and $2,569 from then on). That's a 55 percent price drop for current Ultimate subscribers. The price of Visual Studio Pro, the company's offering for individuals and smaller teams, will remain at $1,199 for the first year and $799 for renewals. It's worth noting that Microsoft will continue to offer a standalone, non-subscription version of Visual Studio Professional, too, for $499. Now there's one wrinkle to this story. Enterprises that currently have volume licensing deals are probably getting a better price for Premium right now than for the new Visual Studio Enterprise edition. Microsoft tells me that the typical user there pays $3,573 for the first year and $1,312 for the renewal and that it expects the volume price for Enterprise to be $4,466 (and $1,640 for renewals). As Microsoft's general manager for Cloud and Enterprise Developer Platform Marketing and Worldwide Sales Mitra Azizirad told me earlier this month, the company will offer these Premium users the ability to renew their subscription at the old price for the calendar year after the launch of Visual Studio 2015. After this renewal, they will be paying roughly 25 percent more than they are now for the Enterprise version, but the company argues that they are also getting far more features than before. Azizirad noted that Microsoft's enterprise customers had been asking for a better way to standardize their Visual Studio deployments across the company, and today's announcement reflects its attempt to address this. Last year, Microsoft probably made its boldest Visual Studio move yet when it launched an (almost) fully-featured free Community edition of the application that included support for extensions -- something the previous (and very limited) free versions never offered. Microsoft tells me that it has seen over 2 million downloads of the Community edition since it launched. As part of the Visual Studio 2015 updates, some of the features that were previously only available in high-priced versions will also move down the ladder. CodeLens, for example, is now available in Visual Studio Professional and the free Community edition is getting support for PowerPoint storyboarding. "We want to make the right moves to bring the most popular features to the most developers as possible," Azizirad told me. "This is really a move in terms of accessibility." She also noted that Microsoft wants to show developers that it is listening and responding to their needs. So how does all of this work out for existing Visual Studio subscribers? Mitra tells me that all active premium customers will get a free upgrade to the enterprise version, whether they bought Premium or received it through programs like BizSpark or the Microsoft Partner Network.
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