Hey, are you letting you MSDN benefits go to waste? I bet you are…

by Angela 12. March 2012 11:25

WARNING: This is a bit of a rehash but since I lost access to my old Microsoft blog, I thought it was worth a refresher. 

I have always been passionate about being thrifty. I’m by no means an extreme couponer, cause let’s be clear, I am also LAZY. But some things are just no brainers…  Like using your MSDN benefits. I know, it sounds weird, but don’t run off just yet, I promise it’ll be worth a few minutes of your time.

First caveat I am going to issue is this: I am not a Microsoft sales or licensing expert so I cannot sell this product to you, or tell you what you own today, or how much it would cost to buy it.  I CAN however, connect you to someone who can help you find out that kind of information so feel free to ask if you have questions.  As a technologist who regularly leverages MSDN as an end user, I CAN tell you that it is chock full of awesome.  So, on to the post…

I used to work for Microsoft, and I had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of customers, which means thousands of developers.  Most, if not all of the customers that I spoke to had MSDN and were simply not using it.  Sometimes they simply didn’t know they had it, in other cases they didn’t realize how much value it had to a developer and just never got around to setting up access, and in a few cases the company was just so big that they didn’t feel they had the bandwidth to roll it out and manage it.  Every one of these companies is actively in a mode to save money and “do more with less” which almost always translates to no training, no tech support, nothing new and shiny for the folks in IT.   And yet they are NOT using the MSDN they already paid for.  This is where my head explodes a little O.o

As a developer I simply couldn’t function in a truly productive way without using my MSDN benefits.  I am on the forums and using my support and training on a regular basis, sometimes daily depending on the project.  Financially it’s also quite a deal when you look at what is rolled into it!  In the past few weeks I’ve downloaded SQL, several operating systems and all of my developer tools.  All included, no extra charge.  And in some cases you get bonus downloads that other folks don’t have access to!

So let me start by explaining what MSDN is, because no, I do not simply mean the general MSDN library that you probably hit every day to look at documentation, knowledgebase articles, etc.  The Microsoft Developer Network Subscription serviceis what I am referring to.  It is a bundle of software and services that may get purchased along with Visual Studio by you or your employer.  It includes a number of VERY valuable resources and products such as:






Just to call out a few of my favoritest (it’s a word!) features:

  • TFS Server and CAL for development, test and production use.  That’s right, you heard it. You can use TFS for production use with your MSDN subscription at NO EXTRA COST.  Want to know more about TFS, check out our website, then email me for more information and to setup a demonstration. It’s what I do.
  • Production rights to Office Ultimate, if you have MSDN with Visual Studio Premium or Ultimate.  Having Office OneNote alone makes it worth MSDN, for real. It’s the Ultimate Planner and note taking tool that I was introduced to back in my Business Analysis/Requirements gathering days.  I couldn’t survive without OneNote. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend giving it a test run.  You’ll never use Notepad for note-taking again.
  • Support incidences – as in you can CALL SUPPORT if you get hung up on something in development or test environments. Don’t sit in forums all day, tearing your hair out trying to solve issues you encounter with our tools or programming languages anymore. USE your benefits.
  • E-Learning – FREE training. You’re always looking for free training aren’t you? No more excuses, here it is! New courses are being added fairly regularly, and you will find a wide variety of topics are covered including Windows Security Essentials, SharePoint Services .NET Framework, Visual Studio 2010 Testing Tools, Active Directory and more…
  • Unlimited priority support in the MSDN forums. That’s right, the place you probably go anyway. You get special treatment. It’s like having a Flash Pass at Six Flags only WAY cooler.  And now that I no longer work for Microsoft and can’t just call up Brian Harry and say “Yo, why am I having issues with TFS branching?”, cause you know I totally did that, OK I didn’t but still. I have already used this feature a LOT as a consultant in the field. It’s worth its weight in gold-pressed latinum.
  • And remember - many benefits, like eLearning and support incidences regenerate every year you have MSDN, but they do not rollover. Azure benefits are reset every MONTH!  So you snooze, you lose.

There is a lot more to MSDN, I’m really just enticing you with some of my favorite features. Feel free to check out the rest of the benefits you may be passing by on the MSDN Subscriber benefits site.  And hey, if you’re not impressed then maybe you know everything already, and you never encounter issues with Visual Studio, Office, .NET or any of the other tools you use day to day to get your job done. Right, I thought so.  Check it you, and if you suspect you *might* be entitled to it, find out for sure and then get signed up.  You won’t regret it. 

While many new changes are coming with the new product line in Beta right now, this slide deck should be MOSTLY accurate if you want a step-by-step walkthrough of how to take advantage of your various MSDN benefits: https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=e796c9484df4baa3#!/view.aspx?cid=E796C9484DF4BAA3&resid=E796C9484DF4BAA3!2136


Application Lifecycle Management | MSDN | TFS | Team Foundation Server | VS 11 Beta | Visual Studio | development

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