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What To Do in a Post-TechNet World

There's been much ado about Microsoft's cancellation of TechNet subscriptions. Officially, the company says it's already giving you those evil installs for free, so why charge you for the service? Unofficially, we all know we're annoyed because the non-expiring TechNet subs were the basis for our persistent lab environments… even though that use was, ahem, technically against the subscription license. Er.

Putting IT Pros off to MSDN isn't the answer, at least not with the current MSDN packaging and pricing. It's more than most need, and it's expensive given what they need.

A better solution would be to see Microsoft formally embrace labs, and I think we as customers should press them to do this. It'd actually be simple.

Make a "Windows Server Lab Edition" for each version of Windows you ship. Make it the same as Datacenter, but hard-limited to some small number of inbound network connections -- thus inhibiting its use as a production server. Then have the various other products teams (SQL, Sharepoint, Exchange, etc) make similar "Lab Editions" that simply won't install on anything but the Lab OS. Charge a few hundred bucks a year (a la TechNet) for permission to use these non-expiring Lab Editions, and be done with it.

Helping us inexpensively build persistent lab environments helps Microsoft, because it helps us deploy new software more reliably and more quickly -- because we can test it.

Of course, for a few hundred bucks a year you can get the cheapest MSDN subscription, which gives you "non-lab," non-expiring server software for use in a test or dev environment. Maybe that's the answer, after all.

Posted by Don Jones on 08/20/2013 at 2:16 PM


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