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Using Community Edition of Visual studio for small startup

    Question

  • Hello,

    I have started a company just year back and providing customized software solution development (not product development or research work) service to my clients. My company is just 1 year old and having less than 5 employees and revenue way less than million dollar. 

    In above environment, can I use the Community edition of Visual Studio for software development without procuring MSDN/visual studio licenses?

    Regards,

    Krunal


    Krunal C

    Monday, May 16, 2016 11:32 AM

Answers

  • Hi,

    my problem right now is, that I only get the localized view of the license agreement. But the german text is quite clear.

    The first 3 points just name some standard usages e.g. academic use. These do not cover your use.

    The 4th point is granting use rights for up to 5 people if none of the first 3 topics match and if you are not an organization (as it is defined below).

    The 5th point is now defining what is an organization:
    a) more than 250 user or computer or
    b) more than 1 million Dollar income per year

    So at least I do not have any doubt regarding this topic. 

    But you should check the exact license as it is shown to you when you open the page with the license agreement (and print it out so you have a copy ready!) But I saw other copy and paste parts of that, too and it simply matched my explanation so I don't think that there are real differences.

    And I do not know what local Microsoft guys you talk to. (if the text you get when you open the given link is also containing what I wrote, then just show it to these experts.) You could call 1-800-426-9400, Monday through Friday, 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. (Pacific Time) to speak to a central license expert to clarify this issue.

    With kind regards,

    Konrad


    Monday, May 16, 2016 1:24 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi Krunal,

    very important: I am not a lawyer and I am not a Microsoft representative. So my opinion simply does not count.

    But I think that the license agreement is quite simple:

    You are an organization. So the first point regarding individuals does not fit.

    Then for organizations:

    The first three topics does not match (Safe asumption - if you are wrong then the result would be an unlimited number of users who could use the software.)

    The 4th point is clear:
    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.

    The 5th point is defining what an enterprise is:
    An "enterprise" is any organization and its affiliates who collectively have either (a) more than 250 computers 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.

    So if you are sure that you do not have 250 computers / users and no more than one milltion US dollars annual revenues, then the 4th point is valid and up to 5 people can be used to develop and test your applications. (And that is exactly what you want to do.)

    Ok, you might get into trouble, if you use Visual Studio to edit any configuration file or if you open a txt file which contains the shopping list of your wife to see what you should buy after work. So if you intend to do something like that, then you should of course buy a license of Visual Studio Professional. :)

    With kind regards,

    Konrad

    Monday, May 16, 2016 2:07 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • Hi Krunal,

    my generic advice is: Read the license agreement. As a company owner / responsible person you should be sure that you understood license agreements / contracts.

    The license agreement can be found at
    https://www.visualstudio.com/support/legal/mt171547

    The important points for your case should be 1 b. You should go trough all cases to see if it fits. But it should fit because it has this point regarding less than 250 employees with up to 5 persons who use the community edition which should fit to your case.

    With kind regards,

    Konrad

    Monday, May 16, 2016 11:39 AM
    Moderator
  • Hi Konrad,

    Thanks for your quick response.

    I'm asking this because local Microsoft team is forcing me to purchase the MSDN version saying I'm not doing academic research work or open source work. According to them I am using community edition for commercial purpose and hence no matter what size or revenue of my organization is I will have to procure the MSDN licenses. 

    So pls advice whether I indeed need to buy the licenses as local Microsoft team is insisting or I can continue using the community edition as per terms.

    Any authenticate help in this matter will be highly appreciated.

    Regards,

    Krunal


    Krunal C

    Monday, May 16, 2016 1:09 PM
  • Hi,

    my problem right now is, that I only get the localized view of the license agreement. But the german text is quite clear.

    The first 3 points just name some standard usages e.g. academic use. These do not cover your use.

    The 4th point is granting use rights for up to 5 people if none of the first 3 topics match and if you are not an organization (as it is defined below).

    The 5th point is now defining what is an organization:
    a) more than 250 user or computer or
    b) more than 1 million Dollar income per year

    So at least I do not have any doubt regarding this topic. 

    But you should check the exact license as it is shown to you when you open the page with the license agreement (and print it out so you have a copy ready!) But I saw other copy and paste parts of that, too and it simply matched my explanation so I don't think that there are real differences.

    And I do not know what local Microsoft guys you talk to. (if the text you get when you open the given link is also containing what I wrote, then just show it to these experts.) You could call 1-800-426-9400, Monday through Friday, 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. (Pacific Time) to speak to a central license expert to clarify this issue.

    With kind regards,

    Konrad


    Monday, May 16, 2016 1:24 PM
    Moderator
  • And some other point that you could keep in mind:

    Even if you want to get Visual Studio Professional: As an ISV (independend software vendor) you might want to become a Microsoft Partner. That way you could get a so called ActionPack which can be really interesting to get some Microsoft Licenses for small money. Right now I do not know the details but I think it was like
    - 1 Windows Server (and 10 CALs)
    - 10 Client Licenses (Windows update only, but also Office. And I think even Project and Visio is included)
    - Some other server software (SQL Server and Exchange I think.)
    - I think 3 Visual Studio Prof. with MSDN are included.

    It could be worth to check that out, too. (But if you do not need the windows server / Windows Updates / Office / ....) then just stay on Community Edition. From my understanding that should be ok!

    With kind regards,

    Konrad

    Monday, May 16, 2016 1:31 PM
    Moderator
  • Hello Konrad,

    thanks for quick reply again. 

    I opened community edition of Visual Studio installed on my machine and opened the license term page from the About dialog. It takes me to following page (just in case you can open it and read through)

    https://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/support/legal/mt171547

    In case if you can't open the link, following is the text I can see

    ==================================================

    IF YOU COMPLY WITH THESE LICENSE TERMS, YOU HAVE THE RIGHTS BELOW.

    1. INSTALLATION AND USE RIGHTS.
      1. 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.
      2. 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 Initiative (OSI) approved open source software licenses.
        • Any number of your users may use the software to develop and test Xamarin Studio or Visual Studio extensions and Xamarin Component Store or Visual Studio Marketplace components.
        • 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 computers 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.
      3. Demo use. The uses permitted above include use of the software in demonstrating your applications.

    ============================================================

    So based on above text can you confirm that I can use Community edition for my size of company for any kind of commercial activity as well?

    As you suggested, I will also try to call the local Microsoft helpline as well and try to get more information on this. 

    thank you very much for your intime help,

    Regards,

     


    Krunal C

    Monday, May 16, 2016 1:55 PM
  • Hi Krunal,

    very important: I am not a lawyer and I am not a Microsoft representative. So my opinion simply does not count.

    But I think that the license agreement is quite simple:

    You are an organization. So the first point regarding individuals does not fit.

    Then for organizations:

    The first three topics does not match (Safe asumption - if you are wrong then the result would be an unlimited number of users who could use the software.)

    The 4th point is clear:
    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.

    The 5th point is defining what an enterprise is:
    An "enterprise" is any organization and its affiliates who collectively have either (a) more than 250 computers 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.

    So if you are sure that you do not have 250 computers / users and no more than one milltion US dollars annual revenues, then the 4th point is valid and up to 5 people can be used to develop and test your applications. (And that is exactly what you want to do.)

    Ok, you might get into trouble, if you use Visual Studio to edit any configuration file or if you open a txt file which contains the shopping list of your wife to see what you should buy after work. So if you intend to do something like that, then you should of course buy a license of Visual Studio Professional. :)

    With kind regards,

    Konrad

    Monday, May 16, 2016 2:07 PM
    Moderator
  • From the license text, It gives me the impression that I can use community edition. However, local Microsoft guys are not accepting this argument. So will have to figure out my way to authenticate this information. 

    Anyways, I really appreciate your help.

    Regards,

    Krunal


    Krunal C

    Monday, May 16, 2016 2:24 PM
  • Thanks for Konrad Neitzel's help.

    Hi Krunal C,

    According to the fourth item that I quote in below, you are not a enterprise because there has less than 5 users. So you can use Visual Studio Community to develop and test your application.

    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.

    And in the download page of Visual Studio Community 2015, it mentioned that "Visual Studio Community 2015 with Update 2 is a free, fully featured, and extensible IDE for individual developers, open source projects, academic research, education, and small professional teams.", which means it just can be used for individual developers and organization's academic search.

    I think the best way is call the number that Konrad Neitzel provided to contact the license experts directly.

    Best Regards,
    Weiwei


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    Tuesday, May 17, 2016 7:05 AM
    Moderator
  • Hi,

    I have to completly disagreewith your point "But you can't sale your application for commercial."!

    That is not written anywhere. Small professional teams are allowed to develop and build applications with Visual Studio Community Edition.

    So they are allowed to build the application. After that the application belongs to them and they can do whatever they want! That is no longer the business of Microsoft and this license agreement no longer covers this topic!

    Just imagine, that this point would be valid. What would that mean?

    - He is not allowed to sell the application because that is not mentioned? Ok.

    But other stuff is also not mentioned:
    - making backups of his application?
    - Starting the application (for non test / development purpose)
    - Looking at it (Could be a nice picture to look at some binaries in an hex editor.)
    - Delete it - Really hard - that could even seen as getting rid of evidence :)

    And so on.

    With kind regards,

    Konrad

    Tuesday, May 17, 2016 8:43 AM
    Moderator
  • Hi Konrad,

    Thanks for your feedback for my reply. I will edit my reply to express my opinion more appropriate.

    @Krunal

    >> I'm asking this because local Microsoft team is forcing me to purchase the MSDN version saying I'm not doing academic research work or open source work.

    According to the explanation from local Microsoft and the Usage part in Visual Studio Community site, you are indeed not doing academic research work or open source work.

    If you have any objection for this term, I agree with Konrad Neitzel's suggestion that call the license experts directly.

    Best Regards,
    Weiwei


    We are trying to better understand customer views on social support experience, so your participation in this interview project would be greatly appreciated if you have time. Thanks for helping make community forums a great place.
    Click HERE to participate the survey.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2016 2:46 AM
    Moderator
  • From the license text, It gives me the impression that I can use community edition. However, local Microsoft guys are not accepting this argument. So will have to figure out my way to authenticate this information. 

    Anyways, I really appreciate your help.

    Regards,

    Krunal


    Krunal C

    I don't know what a local Microsoft guy is or means or what country you are in or where these local Microsoft guys are located.

    If you are in a free country then contact Microsoft HQ and advise them who your local Microsoft guys are, advise them of your situation and what your local Microsoft guys are saying to you regarding Visual Studio Community.

    If you are not in a free country, like North Korea, then give up and do whatever your local Microsoft guys are saying before bad things happen.


    La vida loca

    Wednesday, May 18, 2016 2:54 AM