Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN)

Definition of Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) in Network Encyclopedia.

What is MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network)?

MSDN is a Microsoft program that provides developers with tools, information, training, and events to help them develop products for Microsoft Windows platforms. MSDN Online, the Web site for developers of Windows-based software, regularly features news, general information, and in-depth technical articles and interviews.

MSDN - Microsoft Developer Network
Microsoft Developer Network

Membership in MSDN Online is free upon registration and includes access to the MSDN Library Online, a vast collection of content and downloadable sample code.

Developers can also pay to subscribe to the MSDN Library, which provides regular CDs containing product documentation, code samples, technical articles, and more. The benefits of paid subscriptions to the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) vary with the level of subscription chosen, with the most expensive subscriptions including copies of Microsoft operating systems, Microsoft development kits, Microsoft Visual Studio development suites, and other software.

MSDN Library

MSDN Library is a library of official technical documentation content intended for developers developing for Microsoft Windows. MSDN Library documents the APIs that ship with Microsoft products and also includes sample code, technical articles, and other programming information. It is available free on the web and on CDs and DVDs for paid MSDN subscribers. Initially, the disc version was only available as part of an MSDN subscription and was released on a quarterly basis (January, April, July and October). However, in recent times (2006 and later), it can be freely downloaded from Microsoft Download Center in the form of ISO images for CD/DVD releases are no longer published quarterly. Instead, its release schedule is now aligned with major software releases (major Visual Studio release, major Windows release or service packs), (up to Visual Studio 2008).

Visual Studio Express edition integrates only with MSDN Express Library, which is a subset of the full MSDN Library, although either MSDN edition can be freely downloaded and installed standalone.

In Visual Studio 2010 MSDN Library is replaced with the new Help System, which is installed as a part of Visual Studio 2010 installation. Help Library Manager is used to install Help Content books covering selected topics.

In 2016, Microsoft introduced the new technical documentation platform, Microsoft Docs, intended as a replacement of TechNet and MSDN libraries. Over the next two years, the content of MSDN Library was gradually migrated into Microsoft Docs. Now, most of MSDN Library pages redirect to the corresponding Microsoft Docs pages.

Each edition of MSDN Library can only be accessed with one help viewer (Microsoft Document Explorer or another help viewer), which is integrated with the then-current single version or sometimes two versions of Visual Studio. In addition, each new version of Visual Studio does not integrate with an earlier version of MSDN. A compatible MSDN Library is released with each new version of Visual Studio and included in Visual Studio DVD. As newer versions of Visual Studio are released, newer editions of MSDN Library do not integrate with older Visual Studio versions and do not even include old/obsolete documentation for deprecated or discontinued products. MSDN Library versions can be installed side-by-side, that is, both the older as well as the newer version of MSDN Library can co-exist.

MSDN Subscription

MSDN has historically offered a subscription package whereby developers have access and licenses to use nearly all Microsoft software that has ever been released to the public. Subscriptions are sold on an annual basis, and cost anywhere from US$1,000 to US$6,000 per year per subscription, as it is offered in several tiers. Holders of such subscriptions (except the lowest library-only levels) receive new Microsoft software on DVDs or via downloads every few weeks or months. The software generally comes on specially marked MSDN discs but contains the identical retail or volume-license software as it is released to the public.

MSDN Magazine

Microsoft provides the editorial content for MSDN Magazine, a monthly publication. The magazine was created as a merger between Microsoft Systems Journal (MSJ) and Microsoft Internet Developer (MIND) magazines in March 2000. MSJ back issues are available online. MSDN Magazine was available as a print magazine in the United States and online in 11 languages.

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