User Licenses

July 04, 2023

Let's say you have decided to use Azure DevOps for your team, each team member will need a user license to be able to access Azure DevOps

It is important to understand the features provided by each license type so that we can choose the appropriate license for different job functions namely developer,DevOps,QA,BA,architect,product owner e.t.c

In case you are already using Azure DevOps, you may want to retrospect your user licenses to reduce monthly licensing cost

In this article, we will see various types of user licensing options and which one to choose for each team member.

User Licenses:

To view users and their license types

click on "Organization Settings" and "Users"

Organization settings

Inspect the "Access Level" column

Alt text

here "Basic" denotes one of the user license types, we will look into "Basic" and all other options

Types of User Licenses:

Azure DevOps can be accessed with any of the following user license types

  • Basic
  • Basic + Test Plans
  • Stakeholder
  • Visual Studio Subscriber
    • Visual Studio Professional
    • Visual Studio Enterprise


Before jumping into the features each of these has to offer ,lets see the cost of each license

User License Type Cost($) Per User /Per Month
Stakeholder Free
Basic 6*
Basic + Test Plans 52**
Visual Studio Professional 45
Visual Studio Enterprise 250

*Free for first 5 users in an organization

**30-day free trial is available

We could notice that there is a wide range of options from free to 250$


Each of these license types provides or restricts access to certain features


A user of Basic license type will be able to do almost anything in an Azure DevOps (if they have suitable permissions). They will be able to contribute to code , operate on pipelines, create wiki, boards e.t.c. This license type is most suitable for DevOps engineers

"Visual Studio Code" which is a free source code editor can be used by DevOps engineers to edit pipelines, code e.t.c

Basic + Test Plans:

we cant go wrong with selection of Basic in most of the cases however lets see what "Basic + Test Plans" has to offer extra

In addition to the features offered by Basic,following are supported in Basic + Test Plans

  • Test planning, tracking and execution
  • Browser-based tests with annotation
  • Rich-client test execution
  • User acceptance testing
  • Centralised reporting

we will not see in detail about these features in this article however the bottom line is that atleast one Quality Assurance personnel will need this license

other QA members can operate with Basic plan itself

for example, Each major project milestone(maybe each release) in a project should have a Test Plan and each plan will have multiple Test Suites(which are a collection of test cases)

Lead QA person will be able to create these test plans with their (Basic + Test Plans) license and other QA members will be able to operate with "Basic"


Anybody who just needs to have access to workitems(and doesnt need to contibute to code) can be given with a free Stakeholder license

for example , a Business Analyst can be a good candidate for Stakeholder access

Visual Studio (Professional) Subscriber:

A Developer who wants to use Azure DevOps may also need to use an IDE for coding, If the choice of IDE is Visual Studio then Visual Studio Professional License is suitable.

this subscription provides Visual Studio Professional IDE + Azure DevOps (Basic plan)

Visual Studio (Enterprise) Subscriber:

This subscription provides Visual Studio Enterprise IDE + Azure DevOps (Basic + Test Plan)

Visual Studio Enterprise IDE vs Visual Studio Professional IDE is a separate topic altogether so we will skip it in this article

this subscription is suitable for Architects because of the features of Visual Studio Enterprise IDE like Architectural Layer Diagrams, Architecture Validation and Live Dependency Validation


Few pointers that can help to choose an Azure DevOps user license or modify the license to save cost

Developer → Basic or Visual Studio Professional depending on the IDE choice

DevOps → Basic

Leverage the 5 free licenses to save on cost

QA Lead → Basic + Test Plans

limit this license as its almost 9 times costlier than Basic

QA → Basic

Architect → Visual Studio Enterprise if budget permits

All others → Stakeholder

Thanks for reading, Goodbye until next week!

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Written by Thillai Madhavan who lives and works in India. Stay updated by following him on LinkedIn.

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