Andrew Hallam from Digital Earth blogs about the new ESRI Developer Network (EDN) subscription we are offering developers. He's right to point out that ArcGIS Desktop is not part of the EDN subscription yet vital to being successful. We spent a lot of time on this subject but in the end decided not to include ArcGIS Desktop to keep the cost of the subscription as low as possible and limit EDN to just the pure developer products. ArcGIS Desktop is extremely useful for map creation, data management and is required if doing anything with ArcGIS Server. So if you are new to the ESRI platform you need at least one copy of ArcGIS Desktop and EDN subscriptions for each developer. We considered making Desktop a requirement prior to getting EDN but didn’t want to make things complicated.
I like your suggestion of a “EDN plus” that includes a limited use copy of ArcGIS Desktop. What should that cost? Feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or give me a call (909-793-2853 ext. 2310) to talk more about EDN.