Sanjay Narang\’s Blog

August 26, 2006

VSTS and TFS Licensing FAQ

Filed under: VSTS — sanjaynarang @ 4:15 am

There is lot of confusion around Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Visual Studio 2005 Team System (VSTS) licensing. Although, Microsoft has published a detailed whitepaper ( around licensing, still I find many questions in VSTS Forums. So I’m writing the following FAQ that answers many commonly asked questions: 

Q1.  What are the different options available for using TFS?

At present, you can have one of the following options:

Type of TFS Description When shall I use?
TFS Trial Edition This is available for free and works only for 180 from the day of installation. You are evaluating TFS. Based on this evaluation you’ll decide to buy TFS Licensed version. For TFS Clients, you can use Visual Studio 2005 Team Suite Trial Edition, which is also available valid for 180 days.
TFS Workgroup Edition It has identical functionality to TFS full version with the exception that it is limited to five users only. It is provided with Team System client products that are licensed with MSDN Premium Subscriptions. You are a small team and maximum 5 users would be using TFS. Or you already have MSDN subscription that provides you Team Suite or Team Edition client – you want to pilot or test TFS in one team before investing in full fledged version. Also, you do not need Client Access Licenses (CALs) for those five users.
TFS It is a full feature edition and needs to be bought separately. It does not have any limit on number of user or number of days. You’ve already evaluated TFS and want to utilize capabilities with more and more users. You’ll need as many CALs as the numbers of users (or devices) accessing TFS.

Q2. How many TFS Server licenses I need when I’ve installed TFS in a dual server deployment mode (AT and DT on different servers)?

You need one server license for every server where TFS is installed. So you’ll need TWO TFS server licenses for a dual server deployment. However, you do not need extra CALs.  

Q3. If I’m using Data Tier (DT) in a SQL Server Cluster, do I need TFS Server license for every instance of cluster? Yes. For example, if you have deployed TFS in dual server mode, where AT is installed on one server and DT in installed on a SQL Server cluster with two nodes, you’ll need in total three licenses for TFS. In this case also, you do not need extra CALs Q4. Do I need additional TFS server license if I’m using TFS Proxy also?

Yes, you need full TFS license even for TFS Proxy. However, you do not need extra CALs. 

Q5. Do I need additional TFS server license for using TF Build? No, you do not TFS license for Build even if TF Build is installed on a different machine from a machine that hosts TFS. Also, you do not need Client Access License (CAL) for a device where TF Build is installed for server to server communication between TF Build and TFS. However, you need a CAL for users who are managing builds. Q6.  What are different types of clients available from Microsoft? At present, the following licensed Team Clients are available:

  1. Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Architects
  2. Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Developers
  3. Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Testers
  4. Visual Studio 2005 Team Suite 

Each of the above clients contains one CAL for TFS. So if a user has license for one of the client, he/she does not need additional CAL to access TFS. However, if you access TFS or SQL Server (where TFS is installed) in other ways such as with Team Explorer or through MS Project or MS Excel or with a third party – you need to additional CAL for each user. Only in the following situations, you don’t need addition CAL:

  • View static TFS data that has been manually distributed outside of the server software e.g. MS Project or MS Excel files containing work items (Note that if you use these files to update or publish work items, you need CAL)
  • Receive TFS reports through e-mail and do not indirectly access the server to refresh, create, or update data.
  • Receive printed TFS reports.

Q7. There are users who access Team Project Portal in Windows SharePoint Services (WSS). Do I need CAL for such users?

As far as I understand, if they using WSS site in the following ways, you do not need

  • Accessing reports that have been manually distributed
  • Accessing files containing static TFS data (such as MS Project or MS Excel files containing work items) for READONLY purposes. However, if your files are connected with TFS and  get refreshed you will need CAL
  • Using WSS for any other WSS functionality (such as Threads, Events, Announcements, Lists etc.) 

Q8.  Do I need CAL if I just access Process Guidance through WSS Team Project Portal?

I think, Process Guidance is “static TFS data” – from that angle, a CAL is not required. But I’m little doubtful here. I would appreciate, if someone from Microsoft can clarify here. 

Q9. I heard that you need extra license for TFS Load Agent also. Isn’t the included in VS Team Edition for Software Testers?

Team Edition for Software Testers does not include the ability to “harness” multiple physical devices to generate additional load; load generation scenarios are limited by the hardware. Typically, for the recommended software configurations, this is approximately 1,000 virtual users (VU). If you need to simulate more VUs using multiple machines, you need to buy one Load Agent license for every 1000 VUs (i.e. capability of TFS Load agent on one machine).    Q10. Where can I Download Trial Editions?

Q11.  If I use TFS Trial Edition or Workgroup Edition, would I be able to upgrade these editions to a full Edition

Yes, Microsoft support different types of upgrades for TFS. You can look here ( ) for more details. 

Q12.  Where can I find more details?

The TFS licensing whitepaper ( published by Microsoft explains the licensing considerations and scenarios in detail. You should read that document before making your final decision about the TFS licenses. The pricing info is available at        

DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is just my understanding gained from licensing whitepaper ( and other publicly available information. I’m providing this with the intention of helping community. However, this should not be regarded as official FAQ from Microsoft. If you find any anomalies here, please point me, I’d correct those.  



  1. Hi,

    We have two MSDN Subs (both the dev version). This provides us with two copies of Visual Studio to use on live dev work. It also allows us to use TFS work group edition. Question: What happens when the MSDN sub expires?

    Can we continue to a) use studio and b) run and access TFS

    Finally my understanding is that we can upgrade/reactivate expired MSDN subs a year or so later so assuming we don’t need any other features what’s to stop us from letting the sub expire and renewing it when we need to move to orcas?

    Thanks, Matt

    Comment by Matt — September 8, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

  2. Matt,

    I don’t know, what could be the outcome in that case. The best possible ways to find out would be:

    1. Post your query in TFS General forum
    2. Ask you MSDN subscription contact person from Microsoft

    Comment by sanjaynarang — September 12, 2006 @ 11:00 am

  3. I want to connect to TFS from Visual Studio 2005 professional edition.
    Can you please let me know if it is possible, and if yes then do i need to buy a seperate license for that, and if yes that where can I find the license cost for the same.

    Thanks in Advance.

    Comment by Ankur Jindal — November 21, 2006 @ 7:57 am

  4. Ankur,

    No it’s not possible to connect to TFS from VS 2005 Professional Edition. You need to buy one of Team Edition clients. YOu can refer to for pricing ino

    Comment by Sanjay — November 24, 2006 @ 5:44 pm

    • Yes, actually you can connect to TFS via VS Pro; that’s the common denominator amonsgt all the VS Team Editions (Dev, Tester, DB). It’s VS Standard that doesn’t come with the TFS client. You do have to pay for a CAL w/ Pro though, while the VS Team Edition derivatives each come with a free TFS CAL; maybe that’s where the confusion lies.

      Comment by Victor — July 29, 2009 @ 4:02 pm

  5. Hi Sanjay,

    I came across your blog today.. you have very good contents on VSTS.. keep up the good work.. also. Your white paper on VSTS got published in MSDN, Congrats…

    Comment by Saravana — January 10, 2007 @ 4:43 am

  6. From question #1 above. As far as I know, MSDN subscriptions (in order to renew at renewal pricing) must be renewed within 30 days. After the 30 days, you will have to purchase at new subscription pricing instead of renewal pricing.

    Comment by Glenn Bedford — February 7, 2007 @ 11:05 pm

  7. jenna jameson cumshot

    Comment by muhiwz — July 28, 2008 @ 7:22 pm

  8. The kinky sort and experimenting with his kendra wilkenson nude cock.

    Comment by gozjomhobkiv — October 9, 2008 @ 12:49 pm

  9. Wants the playroom was like an industrial strength klack, gymnastic pussy she orgasmed yet.

    Comment by nude — December 19, 2008 @ 11:34 pm

  10. sanjay,

    I think you don’t need 2 TFS server licenses for dual server deployment(AT and DT seperately) as you mentioned in Q2

    Comment by shiv — March 24, 2009 @ 4:21 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: