Windows Azure MSDN Benefits

It was announced a little while ago that MSDN Premium subscribers would receive a number of free Windows Azure hours as part of their subscription:


and these would be, as expected with MSDN, for test and dev only.

However, I saw over on Eric Nelson’s blog that this is no longer the case. Microsoft have:

“decided to lift this restriction so that you will be able to use your Azure benefits for normal (production) use, if needed”

From January 4th 2010 the introductory Azure offer gives a huge 750 compute hours per month!

As Eric points out, the above offer expires after 8 months so don’t rush to sign up if you’re not going to make use of it straight away…make sure you get your “money’s” worth ;-) After that time period, the level of free access drops down as per the below chart:


This is a great way of making Azure easily available to the 1000’s of developers with MSDN subscriptions. It will allow them to test it as a solution, show the company how it will benefit them and then easily move to a production environment with reduced admin and cost.

See Eric’s post here.

VStudio 2010 release date delayed

VStudio 2010, the latest version of Microsoft’s development product suite, was slated to be released March 22 2010; however, according to The Register, that’s no longer the case.

Sosa Somasegar’s (Senior VP of MS Developer Division) MSDN blog tells us that:

“we are going to extend the beta period by adding another interim checkpoint release, a Release Candidate with a broad “go live” license, which will be publicly available in the February 2010 timeframe.

Since the goal of the Release Candidate is to get more feedback from you, the team will need some time to react to that feedback before creating the final release build.  We are therefore moving the launch of Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 back a few weeks.” (bold mine)

So there will be a VStudio 2010 RC in February 2010 and the final release of Visual Studio 2010 can be expected probably around the beginning of May 2010.

SQL Server 2008 R2: Licensing Changes

SQL Server 2008 R2 has got a whole host of new features and now it’s got some new licensing too :-)

The big move is that SQL’s licensing will follow the same path as Windows Server, both in editions and also virtual licence allowances:

  • SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard = 1 VM per licence
  • SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise = 4 VM’s per licence
  • SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard = Unlimited VM’s per licence

Here’s a Microsoft diagram that shows many of the main differences between the now 3 editions:


If you currently have SQL Server 2008 Enterprise and Software Assurance there is “a complete transition/migration path” but I don’t have any details yet…they will be available nearer launch on May 6th 2010.

For more info on SQL Server 2008 R2, see my other post here:

Read What’s New in SQL Server 2008 R2

Original post from MS here.

Microsoft Licensing – Rental Rights

Blockbuster And Microsoft ...

Microsoft Rental Rights are aimed at customers who

“rent, lease, or outsource PCs to third parties with qualifying Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Office software”

and are designed to make this previously tricky situation much easier by helping ensure all parties involved are compliant with MS licensing rules

“Rental Rights” are sold with, or on top of, existing volume licences and assigned per device. The rights exist for the life of the licensed device and cannot be re-assigned.

They have been available in a limited number of countries for a few months but, as of January 2010, they will be part of the Worldwide pricelist. The will be available on:

  • Open
  • Select
  • Select Plus

(so not available on Open Value, Enterprise Agreements or Campus/Schools)

for the following products:

  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Office Professional Plus 2007
  • Office Std 2007

Rules for Office

There are a couple of rules changes once Rental Rights are assigned.

Portable Copy:

“You may not use or permit use of additional copies of the qualifying software on a separate portable device or a network device. This prohibition overrides any right you have under the license terms that came with your qualifying software

Office gives you “Portable Installation Rights” which allows users to install their copy of Office on both a desktop AND a laptop. This is very useful for business users but, as you can see above, it is NOT permitted with Rental Rights.

Rules for Windows

Downgrade Rights:

Always a hot topic when it comes to the desktop OS, the ability to use previous versions.

“You may use a prior version of the software in place of the qualifying software only if the qualifying software was licensed under your volume licensing agreement, except for Windows XP Professional licensed from an original equipment manufacturer”

So downgrade rights are available where the original software was purchased via Volume Licensing. The exception to that is OEM XP Pro (so that came pre-installed on the machine).

Rules for both:

Remote Access:

“You may not permit remote access to the qualifying software. This prohibition overrides any right for the primary user of the licensed device or any user of a separately licensed device to access that software under the license terms that came with the qualifying software.”

Virtual Machines:

Rental Rights don’t apply in virtual environments…

“In other words, the primary customer may not create and rent virtual machines.”

How Rental Rights Work:

Here are a couple of diagrams to illustrate the whole thing:

Acquiring Software Assurance:

Software Assurance (SA) gives users many benefits including version upgrades, e-learning, training vouchers and access to MDOP among others. It is becoming more and more useful to more and more organizations in more and more ways…and businesses that lease their machines can take advantage too.

SA isn’t available to the “Primary Customer” acquiring the Rental Rights (i.e. the leasing company) but it CAN be purchased by the end user. So an organization that leases it’s machines on a long term contract can purchase SA on their own Volume Licensing agreement.

Office Web Apps on Sharepoint 2010

I’ve recently started building the demo server for our stand at the BETT show 2010 and it’s been a fantastic experience! Installing server 2008 R2 was a breeze and Sharepoint 2010 went on with just one (easily fixable) issue related to a missing hotfix. Once I’d got those up and running, I decided to get Office Web Apps installed…that too, was pretty easy…although I had the help of a great Technet article and a blog over on MSDN to guide me.

First of all, the technet article to installation is:

As you can see, I was putting it on a standalone server – for ease of demonstration if nothing else :-)

The initial steps are few and simple but nothing appeared to be working. However, if you scroll a little down the page, you’ll see a bunch of


scripts like this one:

$machinesToActivate = @(“contosoapp1”,”contosoapp2”)
$serviceInstanceNames = @(“Word Viewing Service”, “PowerPoint Service”,
“Excel Calculation Services”)
foreach ($machine in $machinesToActivate) {
foreach ($serviceInstance in $serviceInstanceNames){
     $serviceID = $(Get-SPServiceInstance | where
         {$_.TypeName -match $serviceInstance} | where
         {$_.Server -match "SPServer Name="+$machine}).ID
     Start-SPServiceInstance -Identity $serviceID


As the note above shows, these Powershell scripts are only required in certain instances…and of course, I had that instance :-) Luckily, just copying the scripts from Technet and pasting into the Powershell window worked perfectly…which was good!

At this point I could see that everything was where it should be and services seemed to be running etc, so I headed over to the demo site I’d set up to test it. Unfortunately I kept getting an error message…so back to Bing, where I found this extremely helpful post:

I had a read through and quickly saw the problem. It was simple and obvious but had confounded me for about 45 minutes (don’t say it!)…it was:

“Activate “Office Web Apps,” listed under SharePoint’s Site Collection Features, on each site collection for which Office Web Apps should be available.”

So that was the missing step…activating it inside Sharepoint…D’oh! Homer Simpson

VStudio 2010 Editions & Licensing

VStudio 2010 will be here March 22, 2010 and with it come many advancements. However, this post isn’t to look at the feature differences but rather changes to the editions and licensing.

VStudio 2008 has got quite a few different versions on licensing:

  • VStudio Pro with MSDN Pro
  • VStudio Pro with MSDN Premium
  • VStudio Team Edition Test
  • VStudio Team Edition Architect
  • VStudio Team Edition Database
  • VStudio Team Edition Development
  • VStudio Team Suite

This can make it quite confusing for customers to choose the right editions for their teams…”Geoff does testing AND Architecting-which should I get?” or sometimes companies don’t have such defined roles, they just have “developers”. Getting the Suite ensures you get all the features but it’s expensive; this confusion has been known to put people off investing in 2008.


There are now just 3 editions:

  • VStudio Pro with MSDN
  • VStudio Prem with MSDN
  • VStudio Ultimate with MSDN

This straight away makes it quicker and easier for users to identify the edition best suited to particular user. This will definitely please a number of our customers :-)

Another change is that Team Foundation Server is now included with all 3 versions of VStudio, rather than being a separate additional licence adding more confusion (and cost) to the deal.

Production Software:

VStudio comes with MSDN which, as it’s name (MicroSoft Developers Network) suggests, is aimed at Developers…giving them access to most/all of Microsoft’s software for testing and development purposes (access level depends on version)…according to Microsoft MSDN gives access to 10,9 Terabytes :-)

However it’s a little known fact that VStudio 2008 w/MSDN also entitles you to production licences of a bunch of software. This benefit continues with a few tweaks and the 2010 editions (Pro & Ultimate only) now include:

  • Expression Studio 3
  • Office Pro Plus  2010
  • Visio Premium 2010
  • Project Pro 2010

That’s a pretty great addition :-) It seems that Communicator has been removed…


One of the biggest problems with VStudio 2008 was how oddly difficult it was to find easily comparable information about the different versions. Seeing which versions did what often involved trawling multiple pages/sites, clicking many a link and a general air of uncertainty…but that’s all gone with 2010 YAY! Microsoft have created a great webpage:



This is a brilliant, one stop shop to show end users (and partners) exactly what each version does, and doesn’t, do…something that will prove invaluable!

You can access the full version of the chart here:

Upgrades and renewals:

Another question I’ve been getting is around how the current 2008 versions will transition to 2010, so here’s what MS say:


So you can see that if you’ve currently got a Team Edition, you’ll get MSDN Ultimate thus giving you access to all features…bonus ;-)

The chart can be found here.

Ultimate Offer:

Microsoft’s website mentions an “Ultimate Offer” around subscription renewals but, to be honest, doesn’t make it particularly clear…at least not to me :-)


I think this means that if you’ve got VStudio with MSDN Pro you can renew it as MSDN Premium at no extra cost, but I’m going to get confirmation from MS ASAP.

Microsoft have certainly made an effort to simplify the world of Dev tools licensing which is definitely a good thing :-)

Update on The Ultimate Offer:

I’ve uncovered some more information on the “Ultimate Offer! (in fact, some came from a customer!) that helps make it a little clearer.

It’s effectively a free “Step Up” promo so:

“Eligible MSDN Premium subscription customers (at the time of launch) will gain access to one higher stock‐keeping unit (SKU) level”

The chart below shows the transition path:


So if you purchase any of the following editions:

• Visual Studio Professional 2008 with MSDN Premium
• Visual Studio Team System 2008 Development Edition with MSDN Premium
• Visual Studio Team System 2008 Architecture Edition with MSDN Premium
• Visual Studio Team System 2008 Test Edition with MSDN Premium
• Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition with MSDN Premium

on or before March 22nd 2010, you will move up a level free of charge…nice :-)

There are a couple of questions I’ve thought of that I’m aiming to get answered and will post them up here once I do.

Sharepoint 2010 Installation fix

Today I finally got a chance to install the beta of Sharepoint 2010 and, in short, it’s amazing! However that is for another, bigger post, this is just to tell you about a small problem I came across…and the fix for it ;-)

The installation of Sharepoint went quickly and with no problems, which pleased me immensely as I’d had some major fails with 2007 a while back! The next step is running the configuration wizard and that’s where I hit a snag “Failed to create sample data”. I instantly thought this was going to be a huge issue that’d take loads of time and involve much fiddling and messing about…but thankfully I was wrong :-) A quick Bing search took me to the blog of Gilham Consulting and a post there pointed me to Jie Li’s blog over on MSDN, which features a quick and easy fix for this problem!

Simply head over to MS Connect, download this Hotfix and job is a good ‘un :-)

It worked perfectly…ran the wizard again after applying the hotfix and everything was up and running.