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Microsoft To End TechNet Subscription Program

Microsoft plans to end its TechNet subscription program, with Aug. 1, 2013, being the last day for new subscriptions.

The TechNet service provides access to discounted Microsoft software for testing by IT professionals, as well as priority support in some cases. Microsoft's decision to end the service is being communicated to subscribers today via e-mail. In addition, Microsoft issued a blog post notice, plus a seven-page FAQ that outlines how specific TechNet subscriptions will be affected.

In essence, Microsoft will honor the terms of current TechNet subscriptions, which typically last for one year. New subscriptions, accepted through the end of next month, have to be activated by Sept. 30, 2013, to be valid. After that one-year period, the program will end for most. One exception appears to be Microsoft Certified Trainers, as their TechNet subscriptions end later, on March 31, 2014, according to the FAQ.

Volume licensing subscribers can continue to use their TechNet benefits until their license renewal period ends. There's no renewal option, though, except for a "one-time renewal" for organizations that have their volume licensing agreements ending on or before Aug. 31, 2013.

Microsoft claims that it's ending its TechNet service because it already offers free resources to IT pros and people have shifted toward using them. Those free resources include access to test software through the TechNet Evaluation Center, Virtual Labs testing, online courses offered via the Microsoft Virtual Academy, and question-and-answer support through TechNet Forums.

However, the free evaluation software that Microsoft offers has a more restricted time span. Evaluation software can be used for periods ranging from 30 days to 180 days before expiring. That's a notable contrast to the software offered through the TechNet program, which doesn't expire so readily.

Microsoft is still continuing its MSDN subscriptions, which provide access to test software, but the costs for MSDN subscriptions are higher, ranging from $699 to $13,299 per year. In contrast, TechNet subscriptions range from $199 to $599 per year.

That lower cost of TechNet subscriptions, relative to MSDN subscriptions, might have been a reason why Microsoft killed the program, but Microsoft didn't articulate the point. Instead, Microsoft's FAQ pointed to the free resources, stating that "although the TechNet subscription service has experienced piracy and license misuse in the past, there was no single factor in the decision to retire the TechNet subscription service."

A reader of Microsoft's blog post on the subject, named "Jon," made the point that the free 180-day trials aren't adequate.

"This is a huge disappointment," Jon wrote in response to Microsoft's blog post. "Some of us like to build upon and keep the labs in which we use for learning. 180-day trials do not suffice. This is just another example of Microsoft turning its back on its loyal folks by removing something great and replacing it with sub par options."

Microsoft's advice for those who need more testing time is to "consider the MSDN subscription."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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