Microsoft has extended the early adoption period during which Visual Studio Online developers can make use of the service for free.
Visual Studio Online was launched, along with Visual Studio 2013 last November. It is a set of cloud services for users of Visual Studio 2103, which were previously known as Team Foundation Studio. See Visual Studio Goes Online - Cloud Based Cloud Development for more information.
During the preview period the services that will require a monthly subscription based on usage are free to allow users to test it and report their experiences to to Microsoft.
The plan had been to end the free time on March 14, but this has now been extended to May 7. In a blog post, the Visual Studio Engineering team said that the extension means the team can focus on delivering additional updates to Visual Studio Online over the next few months, and to get more feedback from early adopters.
A less charitable view would be that Microsoft has had problems with the rollout of changes during the early adoption stage, resulting in chunks of down time. The early adopters were promised (on sign up) that they would get a chunk of time when usage was free, during which they would have plenty of opportunity to evaluate the service and how it works, with the ability to migrate their data from the service and to an on-premises TFS Team Foundation Service) should they choose to do so. This was expected to be available around January, but slipped due to the problems, hence the extension.
The eventual move to paying for the service is quite complicated – you can check it out on the overview page for Visual Studio Online, but the headline message is that if you’re using the free early adopter service you should work out what level of service you’re going to need when the paying starts.
There will be some free services for every Visual Studio Online account—up to five Visual Studio Online Basic user plans, unlimited MSDN subscribers, 60 build minutes per month, and 15,000 virtual user minutes of Cloud Load Testing. If you don’t do anything, this will be the service level you end up with. If you need more, you need to look at the options on offer and get signed up before the free period ends for a 50% discount.
If you need to export your data for use in your own Team Foundation Server 2013 update 2, you need to email firstname.lastname@example.org.