My Visual Studio FAQ

Updated March 10, 2017

On this page:

Are you a current or former Microsoft employee? See the FTE-related FAQ.

The new Visual Studio Subscriptions portal:

What is is a new, consolidated portal that allows you to access all of the great benefits of your Visual Studio Subscriptions and Programs in a single, user-friendly experience. Whether you’re a member of our free Visual Studio Dev Essentials program, or have Professional or Enterprise subscriptions, you’ll find everything you need in one convenient place.

What sign-in credentials do I use to sign in to my account?

Your credentials depend on the kind of subscription you have.

  • If your subscription was activated prior to October 2016 using the legacy MSDN subscription portal, please continue to use the same credentials as before.
  • If it’s your first time accessing your subscription, sign in with the email account included in your subscription assignment notification email. There is no additional activation required.
  • If you purchased a monthly or annual cloud subscription, use the sign-in established when the account was created to purchase the subscription, which is the same where you received the purchase confirmation email.
  • If you only joined the free Visual Studio Dev Essentials program, you can sign in with a Microsoft Account.

Does the new Visual Studio Subscriptions portal support work or school accounts?

Yes! New subscribers are able to sign in using their work or school accounts in the new Visual Studio Subscriptions portal. Existing subscribers will be able to “transfer” their subscriptions from a personal account to a work or school account using the ”change sign-in” feature under the Subscriptions tab.

Are there any changes to the subscription assignment process?

Yes. The Visual Studio Subscription assignment email that is generated by the subscription administrator in the management portal now points new subscribers to the new Visual Studio Subscriptions portal. This Subscription ID is included in the email for support and reference.

Are there any changes to activation process for VL and MPSA customers in this new portal?

Yes—there are important changes to this part of the process. There is no need to activate the subscription as in the legacy MSDN portal. Newly assigned subscribers just need to sign in to the new Visual Studio Subscriptions portal using the same email address at which they received the assignment email from their respective administrator, and they are done! You no longer need to provide name and Subscription ID to activate your subscription.

If an existing subscriber has already linked their subscription to a work or school account, will that be honored in the new Visual Studio Subscriptions portal?

Yes, if you have previously used the work or school account linking feature in the legacy MSDN portal, your linked account is honored in the new portal. Learn more about adding an Alternate Account.

Can subscribers change or transfer their sign-in information in the new Visual Studio Subscriptions portal? If so, how?

For the MPSA VL program effective June 23, 2016, new subscribers are not able to change the sign-in for their subscription. This functionality is available to those who activated their subscription prior to June 23. The Change Sign-in feature now allows changing to a work or school account, unlike the old portal.

If you change your sign-in, there are certain benefits that will or will not be impacted by the change:

  • The related Azure benefit will continue to be under the account under which it was initially activated. So changing your sign-in does not change the account under which your Azure benefit is accessed.
  • Changing your sign-in will impact any Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) account you are a member of or have created under your old sign-in. Therefore, you will need to change any existing VSTS account(s) to use your new sign-in information.

How do I switch between subscriptions?

If you have more than one subscription, you can easily switch between the two using either of two methods:

  • Click the “Subscriptions” tab at the top of the page and choose the subscription or program you want to see.
  • Click the name of the currently-displayed subscription at the top right of the page, and choose the subscription or program you want to see.

I have a paid subscription, but can only see the Visual Studio Dev Essentials benefits. What’s wrong?

The portal treats your Visual Studio subscription and your Dev Essentials membership as two different subscriptions. To switch between subscriptions, you can either:

  • Click the “Subscriptions” menu at the top of the page and choose the subscription you want to see.
  • Click the name of the currently displayed subscription at the top right of the page, and choose the subscription you want to see.

Where do I find support for the new Visual Studio Subscriptions portal?

We’ve designed the new Visual Studio Subscriptions portal to be trouble-free and easy to use, but if you ever have an issue or question, help is available.

New to the new Visual Studio Subscriptions portal? Check out our introductory video by clicking the Support tab, and choosing “Get Started”.

If you have questions about Visual Studio, or need help with a subscription, billing or technical support question, click the Support tab and choose “ Get Support”.

I have a retail subscription (purchased through the Microsoft Store or Visual Studio Marketplace).  What are my options for renewing and upgrading?

You have several options available.  Visit the Renew or upgrade your subscription page for full details.

Is the new Visual Studio Subscriptions portal localized? If so, what languages?

Yes! The new Visual Studio Subscriptions portal will be localized in 14 languages:

  1. English
  2. Spanish
  3. French
  4. Italian
  5. Japanese
  6. Korean
  7. Brazilian Portuguese
  8. German
  9. Russian
  10. Turkish
  11. Czech
  12. Polish
  13. Chinese Simplified
  14. Chinese Traditional

To change your language and country:

  1. In the new Visual Studio Subscriptions portal, click your profile name in the upper right corner of the page, next to “Sign out”.
  2. Click the “Edit Profile” button.
  3. Choose your desired country in the Country/Region drop-down list.
  4. Click the Preferences tab.
  5. Choose your desired language from the Preferred Language drop-down list.
  6. Click the “Save changes” button.
  7. Click the “Use your benefits” link to return to the portal.

Please note: Several of the benefits offered in the new Visual Studio Subscriptions portal access other web sites operated by Microsoft or its partners. These sites may not use your profile information, so it may be necessary to designate your language preferences when you visit them.

Adding an Alternate Account

What is an alternate account?

When you signed into a Visual Studio with MSDN or Visual Studio cloud subscription, you may have used a "personal" Microsoft account (MSA). For subscriptions that include Visual Studio Team Services and Microsoft Azure as benefits, you can also add a "work or school account" managed by Azure, so you can use that account with your benefits.

Why would I want to add an Alternate Account?

Alternate accounts allow you to keep using your MSA to sign in to your subscription as well as having access to existing Azure, VSTS or IDE resources that are associated with your school or work accounts. 

My Microsoft Account (MSA) and work/school account use the same email address. Do I still need to add an alternate account? 

Yes—even if both accounts use the same address, you need to add your work/school account in order to use your benefits across both accounts.

How do I add an alternate account?

Adding an alternate account is easy. Just follow these steps:

  1. Sign in with your Microsoft account to the Visual Studio Subscriptions portal (
  2. Go to Subscriptions.

    select Subscriptions

  3. Under Related Links, go to Add alternate account.

    select Add Alternate Account

  4. Add your work or school account.

    enter your work or school account email address

  5. Use your work or school account to sign in to your Team Services account ( https://{youraccount}

Once I’ve added an alternate account, can I change or remove it?

Absolutely! Once you’ve added an Alternate account, you'll notice that the link to add an alternate account is gone, and two new links are available:

  • View alternate account. This option allows you see the account you have associated with your subscription, and to change it if you wish. To change the account, just replace the currently displayed account with the new one, and click the Update button.

    View alternative account

  • Remove alternate account. This allows you to completely remove the associated alternate account.

    Remove alternate account

I don’t see the option to add an alternate account in my subscription. What’s going on?

If you don’t see the ability to add an alternate account, there are several possible causes:

  • In order to use an alternate account, your subscription must include either Visual Studio Team Services or Microsoft Azure.
  • Your subscription may already be set up with a work or school account. Users with Microsoft Accounts (MSA) can add a work or school account as an alternate, but subscribers who sign in using a work or school account already cannot add an MSA as an alternate.

Can I add more than one alternate account?

No—You can only have one work or school account associated with your subscription.

Can I change the credentials I use to sign in to my account?

Yes, you can. Follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to
  2. Click the “Subscriptions” tab.

    Select Subscriptions tab

  3. Click “Change sign-in”, located in the Links column on the far right.

    Change sign-in

  4. Enter the new email address you would like to use to sign in, and click “Next”.

    Enter the new address you would like to use

  5. A URL will be displayed in the dialog box. Copy the URL.
  6. Click “Sign out”.

    Copy the URL, then click Sign out

  7. Paste the URL into the address bar on your browser.
  8. Sign in using your new email address.

Visual Studio Dev Essentials

What is Dev Essentials?

Visual Studio Dev Essentials is Microsoft’s newest free developer program, that gives you what you need to build and deploy your app on any platform. With state-of-the-art tools, the power of the cloud, training, and support, it’s our most comprehensive free program ever.

I am a Dev Essentials User. Why don’t I have access to any product keys?

Access to product keys is a benefit of selected paid Visual Studio Subscriptions. If you need access to product keys, consider purchasing a Standard or Cloud subscription.

I’ve heard that Dev Essentials includes a specific benefit, but I can’t find it. What’s wrong?

There are several reasons you may not be able to see a particular benefit:

  1. Only the first six benefits in any category, such as Featured, Tools, Education, or Support, are displayed. To see all of the benefits in any category, use the arrows on either end of the row of tiles to scroll left and right. (Arrows will only be displayed if more than six tiles are available in that category.)
  2. If you have more than one subscription, you may be viewing a subscription other than Dev Essentials. You should see “Welcome to your Visual Studio Dev Essentials” above the benefit tiles. If you see anything other than that, you can select Visual Studio Dev Essentials from the drop-down at the top right of the page, labeled “Showing:”
  3. To ensure we’re offering benefits that are timely and relevant, we will add or remove benefits from time to time. It’s possible that the benefit you’ve heard about is no longer available.

Why can’t I download products like Windows 8.1 with my Dev Essentials subscription?

Visual Studio Dev Essentials provides access to the tools and services needed to build and deploy your app on any platform. Dev Essentials provides enhancements such as language packs for products like Windows 8.1. You can also download products such as SQL Server 2016 Developer. Our Standard and Cloud subscriptions provide the ability to download a wide range of Microsoft products, including operating systems, servers, and applications.

Once I’ve joined Visual Studio Dev Essentials, can I opt out of the program?

Yes: you can leave the program at any time. To opt out, click the “Subscriptions” tab at the top of the page. You’ll see a list of your subscriptions. Click the “Leave program” link in the far right column.

If I decide to leave the Dev Essentials program, can I come back later?

Absolutely! We’d be sorry to see you go, but if you do leave the program you can always come back by going to the Subscriptions tab on the new Visual Studio Subscriptions portal. We’ll keep your membership information the same, as if you had never left. Please note that any benefits you have already activated, as well as their related communications, will continue, even after you leave Visual Studio Dev Essentials. This may result in some of your activated benefits expiring while you’re out of the program.