Building with Microsoft Tools–For FREE!

FreeRoundRedWith two of Microsoft’s primary competitors (Apple and Google) offering their development tools free of charge (Xcode and Android Studio, respectively) have you ever wished you could develop on Microsoft’s platforms for FREE? Well… if you didn’t already know that Microsoft offers a good number of development tools and services for free, then read on Smile

Visual Studio

Although it hasn’t been around long (it was announced at last year’s Connect(); event) Microsoft now provides, for no charge, Visual Studio Community 2013. This edition is essentially the same product as Visual Studio 2013 Professional – with a few restrictions placed on usage.

Visual Studio 2013 Community edition is FREE for use in the following scenarios:

  • Any individual developer can use Visual Studio Community to create their own free or paid apps.
  • An unlimited number of users within an organization can use Visual Studio Community for the following scenarios: in a classroom learning environment, for academic research, or for contributing to open source projects.
  • For all other usage scenarios: In non-enterprise organizations, up to 5 users can use Visual Studio Community. In enterprise organizations (meaning those with >250 PCs or > $1MM in annual revenue), no use is permitted beyond the open source, academic research, and classroom learning environment scenarios described above.

If you happen to be an independent developer or work in a small organization then you can make use of Visual Studio 2013 Community edition for FREE!

Get more details and/or download Visual Studio 2013 Community edition here.

Source Control and More

If you need FREE version control for your source code, the ability to track bugs, work items, feedback, and more then Microsoft has you covered here as well!

You can use Microsoft’s Visual Studio Online offering for FREE for up to five users. Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s included:

  • Unlimited free private code repositories  (using Team Foundation Version Control or Git)
  • Track bugs, work items, feedback, and more
  • Agile planning tools
  • Continuous integration builds
  • Develop in any language
  • Use Visual Studio, Eclipse, or your own tools
  • Enterprise-grade services scale to any team size
  • Free for up to five users

To read more details about Visual Studio Online – or to sign up and get started for free – click here.

Cloud Hosting

If you need to publish a web site and/or a mobile service, Microsoft Azure can get you started for FREE as well. You can host up to 10 apps in a shared environment and/or 10 Mobile Services with a 20 MB SQL database — all for FREE. If you happen to have an MSDN subscription, you will also get monthly credits (amount varies on subscription level) that you can apply to other Microsoft Azure offerings as well.

Getting Bigger, Bigger…

Whether you are an independent developer or work for a small organization, you can take advantage of any of these free offerings and build some great user experiences using Microsoft’s tool set. And, you can rest assured that as you and/or your company grows, the above solutions and services can grow with you!

Although Microsoft most definitely does not give everything away for free (how could they?) they still provide you with a set of rock solid tools and services that you can use to build some great software. All for FREE!