Microsoft has released a new version of their popular IDE called Visual Studio Community 2013 for free. Visual Studio Community 2013 is a fully featured and extensible developer environment which can be used by individuals to develop for desktop, mobile, web or server. This new version enables more people to get up and running with a great professional grade tool without the cost.
Releasing one of their most popular tools for free is an interesting move by Microsoft. This new Visual Studio isn't a stripped down demo version either; it is the real deal. So how does Microsoft continue to make money if they give their software away for free? The same way they always have, enterprise and scale. Visual Studio Community 2013 is free for individuals but companies still have to pay.
In addition to a new free version of Visual Studio, Microsoft has opened their Visual Studio Online developer tools free for their basic package of up to 5 team members. This makes developing with friends easier by sharing code via the cloud and tracking project planning. So why would Microsoft be giving these tools away for free? The new developer model is apps. These apps are simple and can be written by one person or a small team, but most popular apps need a backend to run their services on. This backend is where Microsoft is looking to make money, and Microsoft offers a free trial (note only a free trial) for any user.
Hosting the backend of apps on Azure is easy with Visual Studio Community 2013. Offering free tools to plan and share code with a team with Visual Studio Online brings small teams of developers closer to Microsoft and brings Microsoft into the new fast moving world of app development. While Microsoft is late to the game when it comes to supporting the new development environment, it's better late than never. Now new and old developers can leverage free tools from Microsoft to deliver powerful and scalable solutions in many forms.