R.I.P. Microsoft TechNet Subscriptions

As I was enjoying my day yesterday, I received an email with the subject “TechNet Subscriptions retirement”. As I read further, I discovered that Microsoft was actually retiring the TechNet Subscription service on August 31, 2013. That was the first time anyone in the office heard me literally yell out an explicit word.

Microsoft TechNet subscriptions were an inexpensive way (TechNet subscriptions ranged from $199 to $599 per year) for IT professionals to get free access to a very long list of Microsoft software for evaluation purposes. In addition, all subscriptions get some access to Microsoft E-Learning products and priority support in TechNet Forums. The higher-priced subscriptions even include two complimentary tech-support calls. This was perfect for serious IT professionals like myself who considered it an investment.

In place of the TechNet subscription services, Microsoft is providing free services that will include Microsoft Virtual Academy, TechNet Forums, and a new TechNet Evaluation Center offering free evaluation software for limited periods of 30 to 180 days (depending on the application). I don’t know how that will work out because a time-specific trial for software is not adequate in some cases. Trial software is often limited in both functionality and time. That is why it is hard for me to believe Microsoft’s claim that TechNet was now “redundant” and that more IT professionals were shifting away from paid to free, limited-trial copies of applications for evaluations. Not buying it.

Alternatively, Microsoft will still offer MDSN subscriptions (Microsoft Developer Network) but their costs start at $699 ($499 annual renewal) and go up to $13, 299 ($4,249 annual renewal). The other, lesser known, option for getting downloadable software is the Microsoft Action Pack subscription that is available only to registered members of the Microsoft Partner Network (and pass an assessment). Neither are viable options for the average IT professional to consider.

Fortunately, all subscribers with active accounts may continue to access their subscriptions until their current subscription period concludes. If you still want to purchase a subscription, IT professionals have until August 31st to do so and must activate the accounts by September 30th. Microsoft created an FAQ to explain the reasons why they are ending the service and how it will affect you if you are currently subscribed.

Who knows, Microsoft has been known to reverse certain decisions recently after getting feedback from the public. Look at what happened with Windows 8 and the Xbox One. Because TechNet effects such as small group of individuals, I’m not going to hold my breath. A guy can dream can’t he?

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