Well, it turns out that Visual Studio 2005 Pro isn’t going to make it to me in time for Xmas after all, the latest update from Microsoft is that the boxed product won’t be shipped until the second week of January, thereby missing (for me) the year of it’s moniker. If I was willing to pony up for an MSDN subscription, however, I could get it much faster, since it’s just basic media rather than the full retail box. Sounds tempting, but I’m certainly not willing to pay another Â£150 for the professional subscription, and definitely not a whopping extra Â£1000 for the premium subscription, just to get the product a few weeks earlier. I realise there are plenty of other benefits to MSDN, I just don’t find any of them very attractive.
Free Visual Source Safe? Get out, you couldn’t pay me to use that again. Access to Microsoft beta products? I really don’t have time to do unpaid testing for Microsoft, thanks. Microsoft server operating systems? What, so that I’d have to upgrade my server hardware just so it can do the same things it does now under a Windows flag? Free support calls? Well, they give you either 2 or 4 depending on the subscription level, and that’s pretty insulting. MSDN library? What, that thing I can already access online and that Google does a better job of searching than the site does?
Apparantly you get an ‘Online Concierge’ too. I have no idea what that is, but if he’ll book me cheap tickets to a show, have a case of champagne delivered to my room, and call me ‘Sir’ in an ostensibly-respectful-but-with-undertones-of-sarcasm way then perhaps I might consider it.
Ruling that out, I have serious doubts about the value proposition MSDN is bringing to the table. I mean, you can only use this stuff for development and testing anyway (understandable, but that doesn’t justify the cost), and each person has to have an MSDN subscription of their own to use the products covered. Perhaps you get some fantastic deals on volume licensing which I can’t see because I’m not subscribed, but this feels very much like a tax rather than an attractive purchase option. Even if I was buying for a team rather than just myself I’d have serious doubts about the value of it. I guess if you’re writing apps for Windows/.Net servers it would be useful to be able to install many servers for development purposes, but I don’t do that - all my servers are Linux. Which is free, of course - for production purposes too, and I can use less powerful (and thus cheaper) hardware to perform the same duties. So why would anyone want to pay thousands for a team-wide MSDN subscription I wonder? I can think of much better ways to spend that.
So, I guess I wait. Not a particularly impressive launch delivery guys.