Microsoft has changed the product lineup with the release of Visual Studio 2012. The entry point of the product family is now Visual Studio Professional 2012 and the top of the product family is Visual Studio Ultimate 2012. In the middle are Visual Studio Premium 2012 and Visual Studio Test Professional 2012.

Visual Studio Professional 2012

As the starting point of the product lineup, Visual Studio Professional 2012 provides all the basic development and debugging capabilities that you would expect from Visual Studio, including the ability to create Windows 8 applications. It also includes LightSwitch, Expression Blend, and support for HTML5, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), JavaScript, and jQuery. Notably, this is the only edition that doesn't include a subscription to MSDN. Visual Studio Professional 2012 lists at $499.

Visual Studio Professional 2012 with MSDN

Visual Studio Professional 2012 with MSDN is essentially the same, feature-wise, as the base Visual Studio Professional 2012 edition. The primary difference is the inclusion of the MSDN subscription, a Windows Azure subscription, and Visual Studio Team Foundation Server (TFS). It also includes two support calls. Visual Studio Professional 2012 with MSDN lists at $799.

Visual Studio Premium 2012 with MSDN

Visual Studio Premium 2012 with MSDN offers all the features in the Professional editions, plus it adds the ability to generate code metrics and perform coded UI testing, manual testing, and exploratory testing. It also enables test case management and lab management. On the design front, Visual Studio Premium 2012 supports Unified Modeling Language (UML) 2.0 diagrams and code visualization with dependency graphs. To help with debugging, the Premium edition supports code review as well as task suspend and resume when used with TFS. Perhaps more important, the license also covers the ability to use Office Professional Plus, Project Professional, Visio Premium, and Windows Azure. This edition includes four support calls. Visual Studio Premium with MSDN costs $2,569.

Visual Studio Ultimate 2012 with MSDN

Like its name implies, the Ultimate edition is at the very top of the Visual Studio 2012 product lineup. Visual Studio Ultimate 2012 with MSDN has all the features in the Premium and Professional editions, plus it adds IntelliTrace Historical and IntelliTrace in Production debugging as well as web performance testing and load testing features. To assist in enterprise application design, it offers Architecture Explorer. Visual Studio Ultimate 2012 with MSDN lists at $6,119.

Visual Studio Test Professional 2012 with MSDN

A somewhat different animal than the other editions, Visual Studio Test Professional 2012 isn't really targeted toward developers. Instead, it's aimed squarely at quality assurance and code testing professionals. There are no IDE or debugging tools, but it does include TFS, testing tools, and test case and lab management features. Visual Studio Test Professional 2012 with MSDN lists at $899.

Compare the Editions

You can find a detailed feature comparison of the different versions of Visual Studio 2012 on the Visual Studio Compare Editions web page. For more detailed information about Visual Studio 2012 licensing, see the "Visual Studio 2012 and MSDN Licensing" white paper.