UPDATE: Microsoft Extends TechNet Subscriptions for 90 Days
Microsoft sent a notice to its current TechNet subscribers today that promises to extend their TechNet membership benefits for 90 days.
The extension is a one-time free offer to subscribers with active TechNet accounts "as of September 1, 2013," according to the notice. However, the whole TechNet subscription program eventually will come to an end. Microsoft announced back in July that it was closing down the TechNet subscription program and it would no longer accept new TechNet subscriptions as of Aug. 1, 2013. Instead, Microsoft has directed IT pros to either purchase MSDN subscriptions or use the free (but time limited) software resources at the TechNet Evaluation Center.
Microsoft's notice also indicated that it is adding some of its older products into the TechNet Evaluation Center for testing. For instance, it will be adding Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, although those operating systems weren't available at the Center at press time.
Those two changes to the expiring TechNet subscription program came as a result of subscriber feedback, according to Microsoft.
"Two of the most common pieces of feedback we heard are that you need more time to prepare for this change, and ongoing access to prior versions of Microsoft software," Microsoft's TechNet notice explained.
Update: Microsoft sent a notice on Sept. 3 specifically to its Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) TechNet participants, indicating that they will have access to softtware that doesn't expire. However, it's only good through the length on an individual's MCT program membership, so it's still just a temporary measure.
While access to older Microsoft software is clearly a benefit, TechNet subscribers are still going to lose access to their lab software when their subscriptions end. Alternatively, they will have to reinstall the software every 30 to 180 days when using the free resources or they'll have to shell out additional money for the more expensive MSDN subscriptions.
The 90-day TechNet subscription extension could be seen as an appeasement of sorts. However, that isn't how author and IT pro consultant Don Jones saw it.
"I don't think the 90 days will do much to 'appease' anyone," Jones commented via e-mail. "I'm wondering if it isn't a delaying tactic while Microsoft hopefully tries to address some of the other issues their customers have raised. Putting up evals of older products is one big one, since customers need to be able to build labs that include what Microsoft would consider 'older' products, like Windows 7. The other big issue is the time-bomb -- maybe the 90-day extension is a chance for Microsoft to figure that out."
Jones has noted that IT pros need a long-term lab environment to do their jobs in Part 1 of his comment on "The TechNet Subscription Thing." In Part 2, he acknowledges that labs with a "time bomb" expiration date won't really address the varying needs of IT pros. Many IT pros don't work for large enterprises and they just lack the budgets to buy test software.
The issue of expiring TechNet subscriptions has awakened the typically stalwart and taciturn IT pro crowd, which doesn't appear to like Microsoft's change in plans. For instance, a petition drive asking Microsoft to retain the TechNet subscription program has already generated more than 11,000 signers.
Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.