Software Licensing and Protection Services

Software Licensing and Protection Services

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Studies in 2006 showed that nearly 1/3 of the software installed on machines worldwide was obtained illegally. More recent studies show upwards of $40 billion in lost software sales. These figures can be grim for ISVs, especially ones that don't have the expertise or infrastructure in place to implement strong piracy countermeasures. That's where Software Licensing and Protection Services (or SLPS) from Microsoft can help.

The SLP services are comprised of three core components:

  • Code Protector. Code protector secures .NET code against hacking and reverse-engineering. It does this primarily through code transformation, which Microsoft says "takes selected DLL's and functions within the DLL and virtually compiles (transforms) them into a vendor specific format called Secure Virtual Machine Language (SVML). The functions that are transformed to SVML format appear like regular MSIL function (in terms of interfaces), but are much harder to reverse engineer."
  • SLP Server 2008. SLP Server's primary role is to allow ISVs to control SKUs in a more granular way. Called "SKU Agility", it can create digital licenses that map to a product's pre-defined features. That allows ISVs to tailor all, or parts, of a program to specific customers.
  • SLP Online Service. SLP Online is a hosted version of SLP Server. Having the service hosted minimizes the upfront cost of the service. It can also add convenience, since it enables licensing and product activation through the SLPS Licensing Portal.

Prices for these services range from $120 per year annually for standard service to $3,000 per year annually for professional services. Additional information and pricing plans are available on the SLPS site.

  • We are a small shop consisting of 12 developers.  We often wear many hats.  One minute we're a Developer, one minute and Architect, one minute a DBA, and one minute a Tester.

    After upgrading our Universal MSDN licenses from Universal to Team Developer Edition I recently installed VS Team System 2008 - Developer Edition, thinking that for the most part I am a Developer (versus DBA, Architect or Tester).  But I've noticed that "Manual Tests", "Generic Tests", "Web Tests", and "Load Tests" are not available in the Developer Edition.

    I contacted MS and they told me that we had to upgrade to Team "Suite", which combines the DBA, Architect, Developer, and Tester Editions (at about 11K apiece) just so that I can create and run Manual, Web, Load, and Generic Tests.

    IMHO this is ridiculous!

    In most development shops the Developers to take on the occasional role of Tester.  Half of the time we end up authoring the Tests that the QAC folks run anyway.  It is also very common to rerun the Test that an official QAC Tester flagged as failed so that we can go fix the error and retest it prior to sending back to the official QAC Tester.  In addion, in our case we often test eachother's code (beyond just Unit testing), prior to sending anything to our QAC department.

    It seems MS just wants to force us to upgrade to Team Suite at 11K apiece.  Perhaps this is one reason why they are often referred to tongue-in-cheek as M$.  

    Don't get me wrong VSTS seems like a wonderful product.  That is as long as you buy the entire Team Suite.  But there's no way we can pay that kind of money just so that we can have integrated testing.  We'll just go back to MS Word documents, email, and stand alone Rational Functional Tester.

    Dear Ballmer.... I would love to have, at a minimum, the Developer and Test editions combined into one package.  This should be a no-cost upgrade if one has the Premium MSDN subscription.

    Better yet... why don't you combine all 4 Team System Editions into ONE as a no-cost upgrade for Premium MSDN package subscribers.  That might actually give us the incentive to buy a Team Foundation Server and Client Licenses at however HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of $$$ that might cost!!!

  • RDJD has some great comments about Visual Studio. And while they are unrelated to the topic in this posting, I wanted to respond.

    Pricing is tricky because there are lots of deals and offers. And they vary by region. The prices here are general partner prices and your mileage may vary. And I may have missed a nuance or two. But this will give you the idea.

    As a member of the Microsoft Partner Program (MSPP), you receive a discount when you purchase developer tools. Give them our MSPP To receive discounts, be sure to provide your partner number when you order any of our developer products from our resellers.

    Visual Studio Team Suite is designed as a comprehensive suite of tools. The Suite competes favorabily with high end tools such as IBM's Rational. So we have a range of tools from free versions of Visual Studio Express, the Standard and Professional Versions, and the Team Suite.

    The upgrade price from Team Developer to Team Suite is around $4500 for a three year license. You can sign up as a Microsoft Partner and Registered partners can get discounts on the upgrade too.

    We're making a big investment in the Test portion of Team Suite and the Suite as a whole with Visual Studio code named "Rosario". You can already download the early versions and try it out for yourself. Here's the download for April 2008 version. http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=65d0e3bd-9df3-421a-804f-8f01bd90f0b4&displaylang=en&tm

    The Visual Studio team reads our blog too. And the team has as been listening to your comments about what features should be included and in what ways.

    Team Foundation Server isn't quite as expensive as you mentioned. Team Foundation Server brand new is at most $3,200 for three years and everyone with a team role already owns a CAL.  But if they needed new ones, CALS are about $ 133 dollars a year per person if you have Team System version or about $470 if you have Pro.

    In addition, you receive Team Foundation Server as a benefit of the partner program once you reach become Gold with an ISV or Consulting competency.

    If you get a VSTS Edition with MSDN Premium you also get Team Foundation Server Workgroup Edition – a fully featured edition limited to 5 users.

    For smaller developers, I recommend you take advantage of the programs such as Empower that provide MSDN subscriptions, operating systems, and Visual Studio at incredibly reasonable prices.

    Hope this helps clarify some of the issues raised.

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