Assign licenses to users

Assign licenses when you add members to your Visual Studio Online account. This way, you control which licenses they get so that they have the correct access.

Your users will need an eligible MSDN subscription, a Visual Studio Online monthly license, or a Stakeholder license to access your Visual Studio Online account. You can add unlimited eligible MSDN subscribers and stakeholders at no extra charge. Your Visual Studio Online account includes 5 free Basic monthly licenses for those who don't have MSDN subscriptions. If you need more monthly licenses, you can get them after you set up billing with an Azure subscription.

Check your license

  1. Sign in to youraccount.visualstudio.com as the account owner or project collection administrator.

  2. Check your license.

    Go to the Users hub

    You automatically get a Basic license as a new user.

    Your account appears on the Users hub 
  3. Edit your license to update it. Save your changes when you're done.

    Edit your license

    For example, Francis has an MSDN subscription for Visual Studio Ultimate. This subscription includes Visual Studio Online. So, she changes her license from Basic to Eligible MSDN Subscriber. This also frees up a Basic license. Visual Studio Online validates and updates her license the next time that she signs in.

    Why won't my subscription validate?

  4. Add yourself to a team project, if you want.

Add other users and licenses

If you're managing access for your Visual Studio Online account without a directory, everyone must sign in with Microsoft accounts. If you're using a directory, users can sign in with organizational accounts or Microsoft accounts, but only if they're in the directory that's connected to your account. How do I know if my Visual Studio Online account is connected to a directory?

  1. Sign in to youraccount.visualstudio.com as the account owner or project collection administrator.

  2. View your current licenses.

    Go to the Users hub 
  3. Add users who have eligible MSDN subscriptions.

    Add users with eligible MSDN subscriptions

    Visual Studio Online validates their subscriptions after they sign in.

    MSDN Subscribers validated after signing in
  4. Add up to 5 free Basic users. They can use the core Visual Studio Online features with Visual Studio Express.

  5. Assign the Stakeholder license to anyone who just needs access to your backlog and work items.

    Stakeholders can review your project's backlog, view your progress, edit work items, and run queries. They can't access your team's code, builds, tests, and team room. More info here about working as a stakeholder.

  6. Get licenses for those who don't have eligible MSDN subscriptions or need access to additional Visual Studio Online features.

    1. Set up billing in Azure.

    2. Buy user licenses in Azure.

    3. Go to the Users hub.

    4. Add new users and assign their licenses, or update existing licenses. Remember to save your changes after you edit a license.

      For example, suppose you set up billing for your account. You then bought more licenses: 1 Basic, 1 Professional, and 1 Advanced. Now you'll assign them.

      Add users and assign additional licenses 
  7. Now add these users to team projects as necessary.

Remove users from your account

When users don't need access to your Visual Studio Online account anymore, remove them.

  1. Sign in to youraccount.visualstudio.com as the account owner or administrator.

  2. If you're the account owner or project collection administrator, go to the Users hub and delete the user.

    Delete users from the Users hub

    Otherwise, go to your account's Security settings to delete the user.

    Go to Security settings
    Delete users from Security settings

    This removes the user from your Visual Studio Online account. If they have a Visual Studio Online monthly license, you can now reassign that license. Or if you don't need that license, and you bought it through Azure, go to the next step.

    My account uses Azure Active Directory to manage access. Can't I just delete users from the directory?

    What if the user is in multiple Visual Studio Online accounts? Do I have to delete them from each account?

  3. If the user has a Visual Studio Online license that you bought but don't need anymore, reduce your licenses in Azure. This way, you won't get charged for that license at the next billing cycle.

    1. Sign in to Azure as the Visual Studio Online account owner.

    2. Select your Visual Studio Online account, then go to the Scale page.

      Select your Visual Studio Online accountGo to the Scale page 
    3. Reduce your licenses, then save your changes.

      Drag the sliders to adjust your licenses

Q & A

Q:Why can't I assign licenses?

A:Only the Visual Studio Online account owner and project collection administrators can assign licenses.

Q:Which MSDN subscriptions are eligible?

A:These MSDN subscriptions include Visual Studio Online at no extra charge:

  • Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN
  • Visual Studio Premium with MSDN
  • Visual Studio Test Professional with MSDN
  • Visual Studio Professional with MSDN
  • MSDN Platforms

You can also use these subscriptions when you get them through the BizSpark program or Microsoft Partner Network. Or you can use a Visual Studio Online monthly license instead. You get 5 free Basic licenses with your Visual Studio Online account.

Subscriptions that aren't eligible: MSDN Operating Systems, MSDN Essentials, and Visual Studio Professional subscriptions offered through the Microsoft Action Pack program

Q:What's the difference between the Visual Studio Online licenses and MSDN subscriptions?

A:Here's how they compare:

Q:When do I select "Eligible MSDN Subscriber"?

A:Select this license when the user has an active and eligible MSDN subscription and when you have the sign-in address that's linked to their subscription. If they have different sign-in addresses for Visual Studio Online and their subscription, they can relink their MSDN subscription to their sign-in address.

Q:Why do I have to add users to an Azure Active Directory?

A:Your Visual Studio Online account is connected to your organization's Azure Active Directory. This means you must manage access through this directory, not just through your account. All users must be in the directory to get access.

If you have administrator access to the directory, you can add other users to the directory. If you don't, work with your organization's directory administrator to add users. Here's more info about managing organization access for your account.

Q:Why won't my MSDN subscription validate?

A:If your subscription is new, there might be some delay. Make sure that your subscription is eligible, active, and that it's linked to your Visual Studio Online sign-in address. If you're not sure, check your MSDN subscription account. If your subscription isn't linked to the correct sign-in address, relink your subscription. Or try these sign-in troubleshooting tips. If you need more help, contact Support.

Q:What happens if I add people outside of the Users hub?

A:They'll get the next available license in this order: Advanced, Basic, Professional, Stakeholder. Although you can change these licenses, add your users through the Users hub. You can then control how licenses are assigned. You can't add users outside of the Users hub if you don't have available licenses.

Q:What happens if a user's subscription expires?

A:If you don't have any more licenses, they automatically get the Stakeholder license. This means they can only see your project's backlog, view your progress, edit work items, and run queries. They can't access your team's code, builds, tests, and team room. To restore their license, they must renew their subscription.

Q:My user can't see certain features anymore. What happened?

A:If their subscription expired and you don't have any other licenses available, they automatically get the Stakeholder license. To restore their features, they must renew their subscription.

Q:How do I know if my Visual Studio Online account is connected to a directory?

A:Here's how:

  1. Go to your account settings.

    Go to your account settings 
  2. Check whether your account uses Azure Active Directory to manage users.

    Check if your account is connected to Azure Active Directory 

Q:I was an early adopter, but now I can't sign in. What do I do?

A:The Early Adopter program ended on May 7, 2014. If you had the Early Adopter license, you'll need either a Visual Studio Online license or an eligible MSDN subscription. Your account also changed back to the free limits:

  • 5 free Basic users
  • 60 monthly minutes of cloud-hosted build time
  • 15,000 monthly virtual user minutes of cloud-hosted load testing

To get more user licenses or shared resources, set up billing for your Visual Studio Online account by linking it to an Azure subscription.

Q:My account uses Azure Active Directory to manage access. Can't I just delete users from the directory?

A:Yes, but this removes their access to all Visual Studio Online accounts associated with that directory. They'll also lose access to any Azure services that require them to be directory members. You must be the directory administrator to delete a user from the directory.

Q:What if a user is in multiple Visual Studio Online accounts? Do I have to delete them from each account?

A:Yes, unless those accounts are connected to the same Azure Active Directory. This directory manages access for all users in those accounts. If you're the directory administrator, you can delete the user from the directory. This removes their access to all Visual Studio Online accounts associated with that directory. They'll also lose access to any Azure services that require them to be directory members.

Try this next

  • Set up billing for your Visual Studio Online account to get more user licenses or resources, like build or load testing capacity.