Why can't I buy Team Foundation Server right now?


As you may already know, Team Foundation Server released to manufacturing (RTM) on March 17th.  The RTM date is historically the date that product teams at Microsoft consider themselves ‘done’ with a product.  Support, service packs, etc are still to come, but the RTM date is the big milestone for product teams.

But, the RTM date is really just the beginning for other teams at Microsoft.  Any given product at Microsoft is really a collection of SKUs.  A SKU isn’t actually a Microsoft term – it refers to ‘stock keeping unit’, a term that almost all product-driven businesses use to categorize their inventory.  A long, long time ago, I worked at Taco Bell, and we use to refer to the salsa and what not by their SKU number .

Anyways, Team Foundation Server is made up of many such SKUs – standard, trial and workgroup are some examples.  The bits for between SKUs are 99.99% identical.  The minor differences are maybe a timebomb between the trial and standard version for example.

The workgroup and trial SKUs are not ones that we sell.  Team Foundation Server Workgroup Edition is part of an MSDN Premium Subscription, and Trial is obviously just an evaluation copy.  These SKUs were immediately copied over to MSDN when we RTM’ed and are now available for MSDN subscribers to download.  This is easy to do, because we don’t sell these SKUs.

The standard Team Foundation Server SKU is one that we do sell; this one takes more time.  The bits are finalized, but there is a relatively complicated process to make a product part of the Microsoft business.  As you can imagine, we literally have thousands of SKUs at Microsoft, so there is just some book keeping that needs to be done when a new one is introduced. 

There are 2 ways that Team Foundation Server can be purchased – through a volume licensing, or directly from a reseller. 

We publish a volume licensing product list every month – new products have to hitch a ride on this product list when they release.  As it turns out, we will be on the May volume product list.  That is when you can start purchasing Team Foundation Server through a volume licensing agreement.

Resellers sell physical copies of Team Foundation Server – sometimes we call this FPP or full packaged product.  This is the shrink wrapped box that Team Foundation Server comes in.  It takes time to print out the packaging and media (CD, DVD, etc) for any product so it usually takes about 60 days before resellers have physical stock on hand.  Some resellers like Amazon are taking pre-orders for Team Foundation Server now.

I’m just getting to know the post-RTM process now, so I’ll be sure to share any more insights I get. 

Until we get to May 1st, the Trial copy of Team Foundation Server can be used for evaluations.  Converting a trial edition to a full edition is a pretty painless procedure and we are releasing more documentation about how to do so shortly.