Billing overview for VSTS and TFS

VSTS | TFS 2017 | TFS 2015

Whether you choose to work in the cloud with VSTS or on-premises with TFS, you can get started for free. With both these options, you can support a small team of five for free until your needs grow. You can then add more team members and services as needed.

Our pricing model is flexible, enabling you to customize the solution to your specific needs.


  • Free for small teams: 5 users can access Basic features like Agile planning, unlimited Git repos, release management, and more
  • Pay for additional users monthly. With VSTS there are no minimum tiers, so you only pay for the number of users who need access to your account
  • Free to use or trial most features, from Microsoft and from partners available through the Visual Studio Marketplace
  • Pay monthly for the features and services you need, such as build pipelines and cloud-based load testing
  • VSTS billing is consolidated onto your Microsoft Azure bill, though there is no requirement to purchase any other Azure services in order to use VSTS


Add active Visual Studio subscribers for free to your VSTS account. We'll automatically recognize them when they sign in. They won't count against your 5 free users or as paid users.

Visual Studio subscribers can access Basic features. Some subscriptions like Visual Studio Enterprise also include features available through extensions, like Test Manager and Package Management.

If you need to access multiple VSTS accounts, for example when working on projects for different customers, then buying a Visual Studio subscription can be an attractive alternative to paying for those users separately in each VSTS account.

Team Foundation Server

The best way to purchase Team Foundation Server, which you install on your own Windows Server, is to rent it monthly.

With an on-premises TFS, you can start with a free server via TFS Express and five free accounts. You, can then purchase additional access for users to the server either via a monthly subscription service or through a client access licenses (CAL).

  • Free to get started or try out a service
  • Monthly subscription fee per user
  • Or, one-time purchase per subscription (One User CAL per user)
  • Or, one-time purchase per Device CAL, one CAL per device that will support multiple users to access the server from a single device
  • Team Foundation Server (one-time purchase once your team grows beyond five users)
  • Service usage by minutes (such as build agents)
  • Service usage by artifact, for example a build & release pipeline


Stakeholders and active Visual Studio subscribers don't count toward Basic user accounts as they can be added to your TFS account for free. To learn more about licensing, see Visual Studio 2015 Licensing White Paper.

Also, for convenience, you manage billing and monthly subscription services through VSTS and Azure.

Marketplace extensions

In addition to the essential services provided with VSTS and TFS, you can add Marketplace extensions to either Visual Studio, VSTS, or TFS to augment the features available to you.

  • Free extensions
  • Visual Studio monthly or yearly subscriptions
  • Monthly subscriptions per user, such as Test Manager and Package Management (these extensions are assigned to specific users).

Free Marketplace extensions

There are many free extensions available in the Marketplace, too numerous to list. However, the following extensions are listed as they quickly add a lot of value and are easily installed.

Choose from free extensions in the Visual Studio Marketplace.

Start for free, add users and services as you grow

To start using VSTS for free, go to the VSTS signup page ( Or learn how to sign up for VSTS.

To start for free with an on-premises TFS, download and install Team Foundation Server 2017 Express and then create a team project. TFS Express is a free, source code-control project management and team collaboration platform for individual developers and small teams of five or less. Install Visual Studio Team Foundation Server Express 2017 on your desktop or laptop.

Here's an overview about what your team gets with a free account or with TFS Express, the kinds of users who can join your account, like users who have Visual Studio subscriptions, and what to do when your team's needs grow beyond a free account.

What you get for free

With either option, you receive support for:

  • 5 users who get access to these basic features:

    • Ability to collaborate on code via unlimited Git repos or centralized version control with TFVC
    • Agile tools to plan and track work
    • Continuous integration and continuous deployment with Build and Release tools
    • Manual test features

    For an overview of these features, see Essential services.

  • Unlimited users who have limited access to select Agile tools, such as backlogs, work items, and dashboards. You can get a quick comparison of Stakeholder versus Basic features.

  • Unlimited Visual Studio subscribers who also get Basic features and are automatically recognized when they sign in to VSTS or TFS.

Build agents and pipelines to support Build & Release

Create, queue, and monitor cross-platform builds and releases with task-based services.

You can use Hosted Pipelines to run builds and deploy releases concurrently with Microsoft-managed agents in VSTS, or use Private Pipelines to run builds and deploy releases on machines that you manage, running agent software from Microsoft. Each pipeline lets you run 1 build or deploy 1 release at a time.

Your VSTS account includes these free amounts:

  • 1 Hosted Pipeline (4 hours per month) to run builds and deploy releases in the cloud
  • 1 Private Pipeline to run builds and deploy releases from your own server

For any edition of TFS, you can manage an on-line build server at no extra charge, or you can purchase private or hosted pipelines to build your software in the cloud.

Cloud performance & load testing

Create load tests to simulate high traffic using Visual Studio Enterprise 2015 or later version, Visual Studio Ultimate 2013 or later version.


Load testing in the cloud is only supported through VSTS.

Load tests are measured and billed in virtual user minutes: the number of virtual users multiplied by the number of minutes that you set up for the load test run.

Your VSTS account includes free 20,000 virtual user minutes per month for performance and load testing in the cloud.

Add accounts and services as your team grows

As your team grows, you may need to add more accounts and services.

Whether you need more users, features, or capacity for builds, releases, or load testing in your VSTS account, just pay only for what you need. When you make your first purchase, you'll link your VSTS account to an Azure subscription so you can bill your purchases. You'll then conveniently pay your monthly Azure bill by using your credit card, or set up invoicing in some cases.

Add user accounts to access Basic features

If you need to add more users to your VSTS account, and they don't have Visual Studio subscriptions, you can pay monthly for these users in the Visual Studio Marketplace, and then add them to your VSTS account. For pricing, get specific numbers with our Azure pricing calculator or group pricing here, or learn how to pay for VSTS users.

Increase your Build & Release capacity

With your 1 free Hosted Pipeline, you get 4 hours (240 minutes) per month and a maximum duration of 30 minutes per build or deployment. If you just need more build time for 1 concurrent build or release, you can buy another Hosted Pipeline without the 4-hour limit to increase your maximum duration per build or deployment up to 6 hours. For more concurrent builds or releases, you can buy more Hosted Pipelines.

With your 1 free Private Pipeline, you can run 1 build or deploy 1 release at a time in VSTS on agent software from Microsoft. You can also run unlimited concurrent builds or deploy 1 release at a time in Team Foundation Server 2017. Private agents are now free and unlimited. In TFS, each Visual Studio Enterprise subscriber also contributes a Private Pipeline that you can use. You can also buy more Private Pipelines.

You can buy Hosted Pipelines and Private Pipelines in the Visual Studio Marketplace. For pricing, see Build & Release: Hosted Pipelines and Private Pipelines, or our Azure pricing calculator.

Learn about:

Get more virtual user minutes for performance & load testing

If you need more than 20,000 virtual user minutes per month, for pricing, see Performance & Load Testing, or our Azure pricing calculator. Learn how to set up billing for your VSTS account, so you can buy more virtual user minutes through Azure.

Go beyond free extensions to meet your team's needs

You can also buy paid extensions for your VSTS account in the Visual Studio Marketplace. Learn how to get paid extensions for your VSTS account.