Microsoft 365 in Visual Studio subscriptions

Starting in September 2019, all new members of the Office 365 Developer Program (including Visual Studio Professional and Enterprise subscribers) can sign up for a Microsoft 365 E5 developer subscription (Windows not included). This replaces the Office 365 E3 developer subscription that we made available starting in March 2018. It now includes EMS, something our customers have asked us for on User Voice. Check out the recent Developer Blog for more information.

Selected Visual Studio Professional or Enterprise standard subscriptions will now have access to the Microsoft 365 benefit as long as their subscriptions are active.

What is different about E5 vs E3?

The Microsoft 365 E5 developer subscription offers new value and expanded access to critical Microsoft 365 workloads and capabilities. Developers with Microsoft 365 E5 sandbox subscriptions can get everything they enjoyed in E3 plus can take advantage of:

  • Advanced analytics with Power BI
  • Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) for compliance and information protection
  • Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection
  • Azure Active Directory for building advanced identity and access management solutions

To see what’s included in the Microsoft 365 E5 developer subscription, see Compare Microsoft 365 enterprise plans and Microsoft 365 Volume Licensing.

For detailed descriptions of both versions, see our updated documentation.

Activation steps

  1. Sign in to

  2. Locate the Microsoft 365 benefit tile in the "Tools" category, and click on Activate.

  3. On the welcome screen, choose your region/country, enter your company name, and click the checkbox to accept the terms of use. Then click Next.

  4. On the Program Preferences screen, fill out the various fields to indicate your preferences and areas of interest. When you're finished, click Activate subscription.

  5. In the Set up your developer subscription dialog, choose your country, create your username and domain, and set your password. Then click Continue.

  6. Specify your country code a phone number that supports SMS messages, and click Send Code. You'll receive a code via an SMS message.

  7. Enter the code you received in the text message and click Set up.

  8. You'll see the Office Dev Center page, with your subscription information displayed. It's a good idea to take this opportunity to assign subscriptions to your users. Click Go to subscription.

  9. Sign in to your account.

  10. Cancel the introduction dialog box.

  11. Click Got it to close the Office 365 apps dialog.

  12. Click the Admin button to open the Microsoft 365 admin center.

  13. Select Users in the left nav pane, then choose Active users.

  14. A list of your active users will appear. If you're just setting up your subscription, you will be the only one listed. Click Add a user.

  15. You may be asked to personalize your sign-in and email. Choose the options that work best for you, and click Next.

  16. On the Add new users page, you'll see a grid you can use to add users who will all have licenses assigned to them. If you need to add more users click + Add another user.

After you add users, you'll have the option to do things like create teams and install applications. You can either do any or all of those things now, or come back to the admin center any time to set those up.


Subscription Level Channels Benefit Renewable?
Visual Studio Enterprise (Standard) VL, Azure, Retail, selected NFR1 Included Yes
Visual Studio Enterprise with GitHub Enterprise VL Included Yes
Visual Studio Professional (Standard) VL, Azure, Retail Included Yes
Visual Studio Professional with GitHub Enterprise VL Included Yes
Visual Studio Test Professional (Standard) VL, Retail Not available NA
MSDN Platforms (Standard) VL, Retail Not available NA
Visual Studio Enterprise, Visual Studio Professional (monthly cloud) Azure Not available NA

1 Includes: Not for Resale (NFR), Visual Studio Industry Partner (VSIP), FTE, BizSpark, MCT Software & Services Developer. Excludes: MCT Software & Services, Microsoft Partner Network (MPN), Imagine, Most Valuable Professional (MVP), Regional Director (RD).


Microsoft no longer offers Visual Studio Professional Annual subscriptions and Visual Studio Enterprise Annual subscriptions in Cloud Subscriptions. There will be no change to existing customers experience and ability to renew, increase, decrease, or cancel their subscriptions. New customers are encouraged to go to to explore different options to purchase Visual Studio.

Not sure which subscription you're using? Connect to to see all the subscriptions assigned to your email address. If you don't see all your subscriptions, you may have one or more assigned to a different email address. You'll need to sign in with that email address to see those subscriptions.

Frequently asked questions

Q: How do current users upgrade to E5?

A: Currently, only new Office 365 Developer Program members will get the E5 offer automatically. Rest assured, we are working to enable all Office 365 Developer Program members to move from E3 to E5. Stay tuned for more information in the coming months.

Q: Can I activate Microsoft 365 using an existing tenant, or do I need to create a new one?

A: To activate the Office Developer subscription, a new tenant is required.

Q: Can I choose E3 or E5?

As of September 2019, new Developer Program members are only offered E5, which is our flagship version of Office 365. This version of Office 365 offers even more value than E3, and can normally cost substantially more than our previous E3 subscription.

Existing members with E3, who don’t need the additional capabilities of E5, will have the option to keep their current E3 subscription and continue to renew it. We are not requiring any existing member to move from E3 to E5 if they don’t want to migrate. However each member can only have one subscription.

When we have a migration option for existing Developer Program members, we’ll provide more information about how to choose and how to migrate.

Q: How do I know which version I have?

You can verify your version now in the subscription tile located on your Office 365 Developer Program dashboard.

Look for the E3 or E5 indication in your tile.

Q: If Microsoft 365 doesn't include Windows, how do I get Windows?

A: The Visual Studio subscriptions that include the Microsoft 365 benefit also include Windows as part of the subscriber downloads. Visit downloads to download Windows. (If you don't see downloads enabled in your subscription, please contact your administrator.)

Support resources

Next steps