Microsoft rebrands, repositions Visual Studio Team Services as Azure DevOps

Three months after acquiring GitHub, Microsoft is rebranding and repositioning its VSTS coding collaboration service as 'Azure DevOps,'
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor on

For those who were wondering what Microsoft would do with Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) following its purchase of GitHub earlier this year, the answer is in. Microsoft is "evolving" VSTS into a family of Azure DevOps services.

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VSTS is Microsoft's service for collaborating on code development and deployment. It includes Git repositories for source control; build and release management support; tools for planning and tracking work; testing tools; and support for extensions to related services like Slack and Trello, along with various other Azure services.

Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft's new Azure DevOps plan, disclosed September 10, is to start moving existing VSTS users over to Azure DevOps over a series of months. Users of the on-prem complement to VSTS, aka Team Foundation Server (TFS), will turn into Azure DevOps Server as of the next version of TFS. TFS users will continue to get updates based on features in Azure DevOps.

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Last year, Microsoft launched a preview of its first service using the "Azure DevOps" brand -- Azure DevOps Projects. That service enables developers to launch an app based on an Azure App Service and subsequently monitor that apps from a single view in the Azure portal.

Microsoft is carving up and rebranding a number of the VSTS services to create an Azure DevOps family. These services work with public and private cloud, so users have the option of running them in their own datacenters.

The pieces announced today:

  • Azure Pipelines: CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) services that can work with any language, platform or cloud and connect to GitHub or any other Git repository. ("If you want to use Azure Pipelines to build and test a Node service from a repo in GitHub and deploy it to a container in AWS, go for it," according to Microsoft's blog post.)
  • Azure Boards: Work tracking with Kanban boards, backlogs, team dashboards, reports.
  • Azure Artifacts: Maven, npm and NuGet package feeds from public and private sources.
  • Azure Repos: Cloud-hosted private Git repos.
  • Azure Test Plans: Planned and exploratory testing solutions.

VSTS currently includes CI/CD, Boards, package management, Git integration and testing and a bunch of other collaboration, administration and additional services.

When Microsoft announced plans to buy GitHub for $7.5 billion, management was quick to claim that buying GitHub didn't spell the end of VSTS.

From a Microsoft blog post on the day the acquisition was announced:

"VSTS and TFS are stronger with the addition of GitHub. Some customers prefer a simple integrated solution, others want to adopt DevOps tools incrementally, assembling tailored solutions. For years, we've been adding extensibility and integration capabilities into the product. Today both VSTS and TFS integrate with GitHub and that integration will continue to deepen. GitHub offers a great developer social platform and version control system with broad developer appeal. VSTS has a wide range of DevOps services that scale to the largest enterprises. Together, teams can get the best of both worlds, selecting the pieces they want."

Officials said at that time that VSTS would become more modular and be available both as a single integrated suite and a set of individual services.

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Microsoft had been working on TFS 2019, which I'm assuming will now be a refresh of the new family of Azure DevOps services, instead. The team also was working on redoing the VSTS UI, taking cues from what the Windows team has been doing with the Fluent design language.

Microsoft is making Azure Pipelines available for free to those building open source projects. (They get unlimited CI/CD minutes and ten parallel jobs for free.) Microsoft also is making Azure DevOps Services free for small teams of up to five users, and $30 per month for teams of 10 users. Full pricing for Azure DevOps is available here.

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