Microsoft's Standard Offer promotion allows current users of the Standard Editions of Visual Studio 2005 and 2008 to upgrade to Visual Studio 2010 for $299. The price matches the retail sale price of Visual Studio 2008 Standard Edition. The offer starts on April 12, the launch date of Visual Studio 2010 and extends through October 12, 2010.
The new MSDN Essentials program is a one-year trial MSDN subscription that Microsoft will bundle with each retail copy of Visual Studio 2010 Professional Edition. The program applies only to copies of Visual Studio purchased at retail locations.
Dave Mendlen, senior director of developer marketing at Microsoft, said the programs are designed to help developers who currently aren't covered by long-term contracts or an MSDN subscription. He noted that most of these developers tend to be independent consultants or work in smaller businesses.
"Customers purchasing Visual Studio Professional, the professional customers who had bought through retail channels, had previously not had an MSDN subscription. With Visual Studio 2010 we want to bring those folks even more value from the purchase of Visual Studio Professional by adding an MSDN subscription, called MSDN Essentials," Mendlen said. "This will for the first time give these developers access to development and test rights to latest version of our core platforms."
Mendlen said that an MSDN Essentials subscription will provide access to a trio of new Microsoft platforms: Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, and SQL Server 2008 Datacenter R2. Subscribers also receive 20 hours of Windows Azure access and the ability to access both MSDN's online concierge and priority support in MSDN forums.
Microsoft is also accepting pre-orders for Visual Studio 2010, through the Microsoft Store and select online resellers such as Amazon.com, Mendlen said. The Visual Studio 2010 Professional and MSDN Essentials bundle will go on pre-sale on March 9 through April 11.
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