Visual Studio 2013 has now become essentially free...

See http://www.visualstudio.com/products/visual-studio-community-vs.

I'm just going to point out to the first 2 paragraph of the license terms:
a.   Individual license. If you are an individual working on your own applications to sell or for any other purpose, you may use the software to develop and test those applications.
b.   Organization licenses. If you are an organization, your users may use the software as follows:
  • Any number of your users may use the software to develop and test your applications released under Open Source Institute (OSI)-approved open source software licenses.
  • Any number of your users may use the software to develop and test your applications as part of online or in person classroom training and education, or for performing academic research.
  • If none of the above apply, and you are also not an enterprise (defined below), then up to 5 of your individual users can use the software concurrently to develop and test your applications.
  • If you are an enterprise, your employees and contractors may not use the software to develop or test your applications, except for open source and education purposes as permitted above. An “enterprise” is any organization and its affiliates who collectively have either (a) more than 250 PCs or users or (b) more than one million US dollars (or the equivalent in other currencies) in annual revenues, and “affiliates” means those entities that control (via majority ownership), are controlled by, or are under common control with an organization.
Basically, this means that even if you're a corporate user, you can legally install and use Visual Studio Community Edition, on any computer you want, to compile and/or contribute to Open Source projects, and this regardless of your company's internal policies regarding the installation of Software (otherwise any company could enact an internal policy such as "Microsoft software licenses don't apply here" to be entitled to install as many unlicensed copies of Windows as they like).
So I have to stress this out very vehemently: If a company or IT department tries to take your right to download and install Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition to compile or test Open Source projects, THEY ARE IN BREACH OF THE LAW!
The only case where you are not entitled to use Visual Studio Community Edition is if you're developing a closed source application for a company. But who in their right mind would ever want to do something like that anyway?... ;)

So all of a sudden, you no longer have to jump through hoops if you want to recompile, debug and contribute to rufus, libusb or libwdi/Zadig - simply install Visual Studio 2013, as you are fully entitled to (because all these projects use an OSI approved Open Source license), and get going!

Oh, and for the record, if you want to keep a copy of Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition, for offline installation, you should run the installer as:
vs_community.exe /layout
Note however that this will send you back 8 GB in terms of download size and disk space.


  1. Wow, cool !
    you can also download ISO Images directly here https://www.visualstudio.com/downloads/download-visual-studio-vs if you navigate to community and express versions

  2. They are in breach of law if the Computer is Yours, but if it is the company computer they have a right to define what is installable in the computer and what you do on it in work hours !

    1. But then what prevents the same company to say "The other Microsoft licensing terms (such as paying Microsoft for licensing) do not apply to us" in a similar internal policy?

      It is my understanding that the global licensing terms trump any local internal policy in this case. Note that I'm considering this from the legal standpoint where you actually would be entitled to study and run software covered by bullet point #1 in 1b in order to complete work that was assigned to you by your company (so the "what you do in work hours" of your argument is moot).

      In the same way it is your duty to blow the whistle on wrongdoings that your company might do, against the wishes of said company, I am stating that it is your legal entitlement to run Visual Studio on your computer, if it helps you do perform your job more efficiently and in the context of the Microsof license, due to its license trumping any of the local guidelines that your company might prefer to uphold. And If that means ignoring rules that are unlikely to be receivable as law in a court of the same name, since you are not performing any wrongdoing towards your company, so be it.

  3. Nononono, that's not how it works. That's not how any of this works.

    If a company owns a device (eg: an office computer), then they decide what goes onto this computer, and what doesn't. If you, an employee of this company, want to install software on company property, you must have permission to do so from whoever is in authority of these matters (usually the IT department). If you want to install VS2013 on their computer (not yours, it's company property), and they don't feel like it, you are not allowed to do so.

    See it like having a laptop that your little sister uses. She wants to install some chat software. Even though the license of the chat software allows her to, she can't do it as long as you disapprove.

    It's not a matter of one policy overriding the other, it's a matter of having permission from BOTH your company and microsoft. (Microsoft is giving permission to your company to install VS2013 and it's up to them whether to pass this permission on to you)

  4. Except internal policies have no legal standing if they go against ones that are nationally and internationally recognized.

    A company may *want* to have the right to enforce an arbitrary policy, and may threaten to fire you if they don't get their way (which is about as far they can go here), but I don't see how, if there is no malpractice from the employee side, especially if the purpose of the software installation was not disobedience for the sake of it, but to make the company more profitable by completing the work that was assigned to them in the best possible conditions, this could win in a court of law.

    Just like a company may find themselves in breach of the law if it is established that they discriminated against employees because of their gender, race, sexual orientation and so on, or if they knowingly put their employee's health in jeopardy, a company can also find themselves to be in breach of the law if they are trying to enforce a software installation policy that is actually detrimental to an employee performing the actual task they were hired to do.

    So what I am saying is that, as the "little sister" it is your legal and civil duty to "disobey" so called orders that only seem to exist out of spite, if the end result is that both the company and the employee lose as a result of following them (and, outside of the licensing terms of the software you are planning to study, which is a completely different matter altogether, it can indeed be legally demonstrated that your use of the software resulted in an increase of productivity --and yes, before you go there, I am also considering additional maintenance from an IT department, from the unilateral decision of an employee to install software, as a factor in that decision as well).

    Or, to put it more simply, when internal policies go against national and international laws, and companies want to pretend that they can enforce their own, I am saying that it's up to people to keep companies in check, rather than the other way around.

    Oh, and I can't resist pointing out that you may want to be careful about using an example where the actual main character that demonstrates your point should be called "big brother" (or perhaps "big siter"), especially when your statement is in effect that "big brother" should have the right to tell their underlings exactly what they can and cannot do, even if this will turn out detrimental to both parties.

    1. This all makes sense and this all is according to how laws and rules work, but *only if the computer is yours*. Your boss can't tell you what you can and can't do with your own laptop (though he can forbid you from using it at work). But as soon as it's the company's device, you're not in charge anymore. It's literally property of the company and the company is the one who sets the rules how (in accordance with the law) you can use their stuff. There is seriously no law that forbids a company from prohibiting their employees to install software. Even if the license of that software allows for it. Even if the software could help make your job easier.

      While your ideas of what an employee should be able to do with "their" computer idealistically make sense (not really theirs, it's not their property, but the company's!), this does not fit in our society's understanding of ownership. The law says: you own something, you decide what people you borrow it to can do with it. Same rule applies to companies, even if they're "borrowing" it to their employees.

      Finally, at every company, before you can work there, you sign a contract. This contract usually says something about the conditions of how you can use their stuff. These conditions usually include an IT policy. There's literally nothing illegal about it. It very definitely is a fireable offense (the law is siding with the employer on this matter) to break this policy and install software on company property without authority.

      To give you an example of a company's IT policy, look at this: http://community.spiceworks.com/education/projects/Template_-_Computer_Use_Policy
      You'll note that employees are only allowed to install software that has prior approval from the company.

      There is no national, no international law that's on your side. There are laws against you. Many laws. In the eyes of these laws, installing software of any kind without permission on other people's stuff—even good software, even on your work pc—counts as a hacking offense.

    2. Except, as I tried to point out earlier, the non-installation policy you are trying to uphold here is completely discriminatory, and therefore cannot legally be upheld.

      A company of course has the "freedom" to declare whatever they would like to pass as law as internal rules, such as ones that state that women should be paid less than men or that, at the same qualification level, people younger than 40 should be hired over older people, or that, in our case, software that will effectively allow an employee to complete the task they were assigned in the best conditions can not be installed.

      However, these are entirely discriminatory rules, and if, as an employee, you were to go to court for breaching those, the law would side with you, not your employer. The company can scream "our hardware, our rules" as much as it want, but as long as they enforce a purely discriminatory rule, they have no legal standing.

      Besides, I would surmise that both you and I know exactly where the usual corporate software installation policies come from: they are established, for the most part with reason, to prevent employees from installing software that will either be distracting them from their task, create maintenance issues or introduce a security risk. However, apart from the possible maintenance issue (which is why I pointed out that it should be demonstrated, as would be in the vast majority of cases, that the benefit of installing the software for the employer outweighs any additional maintenance cost) neither of these reasons qualify in this instance, which makes the rule of prohibiting the installation of reputable software a *purely* discriminatory non enforceable rule, if it ever were to go in front of a court of law.

      Whether you like it our not, a blind enforcement of "employees can only install software that is arbitrarily approved" rule is as discriminatory as a rule that would state that, for equal work, a woman should be paid less than a man. Maybe some companies think they can get away with it, due to a misled impression that they are free to establish whatever policies they like, but when said policies are discriminatory, they might find, with a hefty fine, that they very much have to comply to fairness.

      Furthermore, I suspect that, in the US, Corporate Personhood may actually allow Microsoft to sue any company that tries to enforce a rule that prevents the legal installation of their software, if it can be proved that said software would have done as good or better a job as the "company-approved" way, as there would appear to be an arbitrary discrimination against their "personhood" (which the law will very much side against).

      So, once again, the point I am trying to make has nothing to do with good software, or employees being able to do whatever they want (of course they can't). It has to do with *unlawful* discrimination (and, judging on these comments, it would look to me that companies and some of their employees seem to have been so accustomed to having free reign at establishing arbitrary rules, that they have come to believe they are above anti discriminatory laws).

      As much as I'm not trying to defend Microsoft here (because there's a lot that could be said about some of their own public discriminatory practices, such as disallowing the signing GPL3 code for UEFI bootloaders under false pretences) if you still believe that there is no discrimination being effected by preventing the use of Microsoft software in a corporate rule, when use of that software would be beneficial for the company, then I will kindly request that you try to prove that point. Or if not, then may have to find out in a court of law, which of the "hacking charge, from having installed non-damaging software from a reputable software company that allowed an employee to perform the task they were assigned to more productively" and "discriminatory" comes out on top.

  5. "Whether you like it our not, a blind enforcement of "employees can only install software that is arbitrarily approved" rule is as discriminatory as a rule that would state that, for equal work, a woman should be paid less than a man. Maybe some companies think they can get away with it, due to a misled impression that they are free to establish whatever policies they like, but when said policies are discriminatory, they might find, with a hefty fine, that they very much have to comply to fairness."

    Gender is a protected class and there's specific legislation preventing such discrimination, there is no such legislation covering the right to install arbitrary software on your employer's hardware.

    The opposite is in fact true: in theory if you install software on your employer's hardware after being specifically told not to install any unapproved software then this might in fact count as unauthorised access and could be prosecuted as a criminal offence.

    1. I'll brush aside the fact (which I could all but confirm in various positions I occupied in the past, including ones in different countries) that, despite gender equality laws supposedly being enforced in many countries, gender equality in the workplace, at least in terms of salary, is far from being applied...

      > there is no such legislation covering the right to install arbitrary software on your employer's hardware.

      Which is precisely my point. How then can one justify that one party is above the law, especially if the rule they are then trying to enforce are clearly discriminatory and negatively impacting their employees.

      I really can't help but be amazed at the length people here will go to try to defend the "right" of employers to apply entirely arbitrary rules against their employees wherever there exists a grey area, even if said rule, as I tried to establish with the usage circumstances above, would go squarely against both the employee and the employer's welfare.

      See what you have to do? You have to *twist* a rule that exists purely to prevent the use of potentially harmful software, and apply it to a set of circumstances (non harmful reputable software used solely with the purpose of making a job, and thus the company as a whole, more efficient) which it was never intended for, just so you can seemingly get your way... Oh and I'm still waiting for ANY argument that sqaurely demonstrates how exactly what I am adocating is in any way harmful. All I've been hearing so far has been "you can't do that because that's the way it is" but very little "you can't do that, because if you were to, then this would produce negative consequence X and Y".

      As I said before, until such a matter as the one I have been exposing has gone to court, I can only consider that your assertion that the employer is entitled to enforce whatever arbitrary and discriminatory rule they wish is non-receivable (which is precisely why I brought up the gender equality example, as, had gender equality cases never gone to court, I bet there would be some people here making the argument that, in the absence of a court decision, employers should be entitled to discriminate their employees according to gender as much as they want). In other words, unless we've seen a case like the one I expose, be debated in front of a court of law, where an employee, in order to perform their job more efficiently (and thus noticeably benefiting their employer), and without causing negative overhead for their employer, has been installing and using software in the way I describe, the idea that "employers have the legal right to prevent their employees from installing reputed software that can demonstratively allow them to perform the job they were tasked to do more efficiently" is not something you can unilaterally go ahead and declare "unlawful". You and others can huff and puff all you want about "My Company, my rules!", but until something like this has gone in front of a jury for arbitration, these rules, and especially discriminatory ones, can only have as much weight as "guidelines". Otherwise, we'd still be debating the idea that, for an equivalent job, women should be paid less than men because a majority of employers have unilaterally decided it as a "rule".

      Oh, and just to make sure I don't have to reply to a straw man in case people skip part of what I wrote earlier, please don't conflate the point I am trying to make here with "Employees should have the right to install whatever software they want" (or try to even imply that I am trying to open the door for such an argument), because that's not at all what I am advocating. I'm only discussing the very specific scenario exposed above.

    2. https://www.google.co.uk/?ion=1&espv=2#q=fired%20for%20installing%20software

    3. Do you understand what a straw man is? Or did just not read the part where I tried to make clear that my point was not about employees having the right to install whatever software they want (which of course, if they do, they will get fired for as some will install malware of software that, UNLIKE what we are discussing here) doesn't benefit their job in any way?


  6. What you're missing is that it doesn't matter whether or not the software is otherwise legal as per the license, the point is that if the employer has a written policy stating you need permission to install any software and you disregard that, they can (and will) legally fire you. This also applies regardless of the purpose of that software and regardless of whether or not the employer would be better off if the employee used it.

    Unless you can point to a law which prohibits such policies, the default would be that the employer retains control of their property.

    Under UK law the computer misuse act would cover this quite clearly, in the US the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) would cover it. Put simply, if you are specifically told you are not allowed to do something with a computer system and do it anyway that is a criminal offence and there is no defence of "I thought it'd be better for the person who owns the system".

    1. > This also applies regardless of the purpose of that software and regardless of whether or not the employer would be better off if the employee used it.

      Which is precisely why I say that the the current set of rules, which states that an employer has the "right" to twist a law that is mostly meant to prevent misuse of hardware on account that such practice might harm the company, and use this to enforce a *discriminatory* practice that prevents an employee from performing their job in the best conditions, has about as much weight as the set of rules (of lack of rules) that also allowed employers to discriminate in terms of salary according to gender. And this is exactly why I am stating that employees should both smarten up to it and challenge it, especially as I have good reason to believe that, when presented with the evidence, and especially with the consideration that both parties can greatly benefit from it, a court of law will side with the employee rather than the employer (or rather, will dismiss the rules the employer blindly trying to spite an employee by preventing him or her from performing their task in the best conditions, which is also something that they are legally bound to do).

      You want to pretend that "all's good, existing rules are set in stone and should continue to favour arbitrary decisions for the employer", and I am, saying, "The law is not immutable and can and does get reviewed on a case by case basis, in order to establish whether circumstances have changed and whether a new approach, that might actually overrule or seem contrary to an implicit set of established guidelines, should be applied here and there, especially if such a new approach can actually benefit both parties".

      In other words, you (and everybody else so far) has been promoting the status quo, without ever offering the slightest reason as to why said status quo benefits anyone. And I am saying that, because the current status quo clearly does not benefit ANYONE, it needs to be challenged through whatever means (including acts of civil disobedience if that's what it takes to get it properly reviewed).

  7. I once got fired for fixing a printer configuration that I needed in order to do my job. There wasn't even a written policy against this and I was still fired on the basis that I should have contacted IT first.

    Employers are allowed to be stupid, they are not allowed to discriminate against minorities - and there is a big difference between discriminating against people and discriminating against software.

    1. I can't help but find it hard to believe that you would put your weight in defending an employer's "right" to be stupid, when you allegedly got fired from it, but that's of course beside the point.
      I will therefore assert that you were just trying to state the current status here, rather than imply something akin to "employers should be allowed to be stupid, and we should let them be".
      Even so, I can't help but continue to invite everyone to apply checks and external pressure with regards to their employers, even if it means "breaching" internal rules, until this obvious detrimental systemic problem gets addressed.

      Also, when you say "there is a big difference between discriminating against people and discriminating against software", I still have to disagree. The way I see it, a discrimination against software can also be a discrimination against people, in that, in a fashion that can be defined as discriminatory (when compared to what would happen in another company, or even in the same company according to circumstances) software matters do prevent people from performing their job in the best condition. There is a very discriminatory implication to preventing your employees from performing a better job through material constraints that have no logical or even financial reason for existence, and I find it hard to believe that, should this go in front of a jury, it would not be established as one of them.

      Also, please consider this, a similar scenario of which has likely happened in as many occasions (if not more) as people who have allegedly gotten fired over trivial software installations:

      "- Hey boss, I was working late yesterday and saw that the S.M.A.R.T. report on the sole hard drive that holds our customer DB indicated that the disk was in the process of failing. Because I didn't know how much time we had left and there was noone around, I went ahead and installed this UNAPPROVED cloning software, despite our policy, so that I could urgently create a copy of the DB. We may have a few hours downtime as IT is replacing the disk now, but we should be okay. Oh, and I also think I'm gonna install this UNAPPROVED automated backup software, once it's back up, just in case, until we can sort something better...
      - Well done, Jones! You probably saved this company from a major financial hit. I'll make sure to remember this on your next salary review.
      - But I also went against the company policies and installed unapproved software...
      - Let's not mention this, shall we?"


    2. There's nothing far fetched about this scenario. As a matter of fact, I have seen it happen quite a few times (in a much less critical fashion) within a couple of companies that had "policies" against the use of unapproved software (whereas, on the other hand, the only case I remember of an employee being fired from installing software was someone who installed and played games on their work computer). Thus, I think it should be exceedingly obvious to anyone that every single company rule, that is designed to control the installation of unapproved software, is no more than an internal elastic guideline, which can and does get extended one way or another according to what suits the company. Therefore, I will maintain that:
      1. It cannot seriously be considered as a binding law when one can readily find examples of digressions that have the blessing of an employer who is supposedly bound by it.
      2. Given the proper set of usage circumstances, a company will be hard pressed to find a sympathetic jury with regards to being entitled to blind enforcement of said rule, especially if their whole justification for stems from the enforcing of a "Computer Fraud and Abuse Act" or equivalent, that, from its very title, is a set of policies that designed purely to prevent potentially harmful activities from occurring within the company, and not, in the demonstrable absence of harmful activities, discriminatorily prevent company employees from performing their task in a fashion that will best benefit both themselves and the company.

      Unfortunately, you missed a chance to bring your dismissal case to court, so (depending on the other circumstances of your dismissal) we still won't be able to find out if, as you seem to posit, a company is entitled to abuse rules to summarily get their way, even when it clearly doesn't benefit anyone.

  8. The employer can of course be flexible on how they apply the rules, but if they do choose to fire someone over it, it would be very difficult to have a court agree that it was unlawful to do so if the policy was in writing.

    For the example I gave, it was just a part-time job I had in my teens and I didn't bother to fight it - I might have been able to on the basis of it not being a written policy, but had it been in writing i'd not have standing at all.

    What bothers me is you seem to be advising people to risk their jobs over this by claiming (without evidence) that the law would be on their side. That is dangerous and unethical. What is wrong with simply suggesting people ask their employers to allow use of visual studio? I can't imagine any employer is going to refuse (though I have to wonder what windows developer doesn't already have visual studio on a commercial license).

    1. > it would be very difficult to have a court agree that it was unlawful to do so if the policy was in writing.

      Unless, and this is very much my point, it can be demonstrated that the only reason for the employer to go against the employee for installing and running software that helps them perform their job better is out of spite (for lack of a better word), through the application of what are essentially elastic guidelines, but in an suddenly arbitrary and unjustified rigid fashion.

      As I stated, it should up to a court of law, rather than a company, to determine whether an internal written company guideline is actually enforceable, especially when it goes against other guidelines (such as the ones that are set to govern the use of software, as established by the software maker... of course provided that said guidelines are also not set to incur harm on the software user or their company, which, in our case, it can hardly be construed they are), and the problem I have is that many people here are trying to state that company guidelines are as absolute as law (when clearly they are not) and should never ever be disputed (they should, if they impose what can be seen as discriminatory practices on their employees). My other concern is also that there is probably a wider issue at hand here, that has to do with companies using these practices as a stepping stone for more nefarious restrictions upon their employees, and thus I think this it is very disingenuous to try to advocate for the current status-quo of "unchallengeable right of employers against their employees", especially if you're going to use adjectives such as "unethical" to describe fighting against set of rules that seem worryingly one sided towards the employer.

      > What is wrong with simply suggesting people ask their employers to allow use of visual studio?

      What I am discussing here is what happens if you did just that, and the employer still used their internal guidelines to refuse your request. And I am stating that, should they refuse, you should not take their word as something that has no recourse, because arbitrary (especially discriminatory) internal rules is not something that should be seen as superseding actual laws, especially as actual laws are instead usually established to promote a balance of rights between individuals or entities or both. This, IMO, is something everybody should fight for, be it in the workplace or elsewhere.

  9. By the way, the CFAA and the computer misuse act both relate to the criminal offence of unauthorised access - you aren't seriously attempting to interpret a law purely on the basis of the name of that law right?

    Do you believe the patriot act relates to patriotic behaviour as well?

    1. You are missing the point I was making. Every single article I have seen of the CFAA is pretty clear as to its intent, and it clearly has nothing to do with preventing unauthorized installation of software, unless said installation is for the purpose of what can be summarily described as "abuse or fraud", which is as remote as can be to what we are actually discussing here. So the fact that (just as many employers would, I surmise), you are trying to present a law that is not directly applicable, to justify an what is essentially internal rule you would like to see applied, so that it looks legally binding to employees is disingenuous at best, and precisely the sort of practices that I would encourage to be fought in the open for that reason.