Visual Studio is licensed per user and requires activation with a Microsoft account. The stand-alone product is ideal for users who do not need to use any Microsoft platforms like Windows, Windows Server, SQL Server, etc. as part of their development efforts, who do not need use of Microsoft Azure, who do not need technical support, who do not need e-learning, who do not collaborate with other development team members via Team Foundation Server, and who do not need access to new versions of the software.
Visual Studio with an MSDN subscription offers a greater development experience, with access to over 11 terabytes of Microsoft software, cutting-edge build tools and more, such as development/test use rights for Microsoft platform software like SQL Server/Windows/Windows Server, monetary credits to use Azure resources, developer accounts on the Windows Store, and Windows Phone Store.
The MSDN subscription is licensed per subscriber and each user is entitled to install and run any number of instances, for development and testing, across any number of licensed devices. Subscriptions cannot be shared so each user of the MSDN software must be licensed accordingly.
Click here to read the Visual Studio 2017 Licensing Whitepaper pdf.
As each licensing scenario can be very different and complexities can often arise, we recommend you speak to us before you make your licensing choices so we can ensure you are on the most cost effective scheme for your planned usage.