BREAKING NEWS: Buh-Bye TechNet Subscriptions

Evaluation Software

“Don’t you mean, ‘Buy TechNet Subscriptions’, Kevin?”

Nope.  The TechNet Subscription is no more.  Today Microsoft announced that, as of August 31, 2013 we will no longer be selling the TechNet Subscription, in favor of better free trials and evaluations (such as those found at https://aka.ms/evals)

Full details of this news are being e-mailed to all current subscribers even as this post goes live, and can be found at the TechNet site.  Also, please check out the updated TechNet Subscription FAQ: https://aka.ms/TNSFAQ)

“What happens to my current subscription?”

Microsoft promises that you’ll still be able to take advantage of your subscription throughout your current subscription period.  If you want to start a new subscription (or renew an existing one), you have ‘til August 31, 2013 to make your purchase, and until September 30, 2013 to activate it.

“So.. where do I go to get similar features or support?”

In an e-mail I received on the subject, the author included a pretty useful grid mapping TechNet Subscription Benefits to alternative sources:

 

TECHNET SUBSCRIPTION BENEFIT

ALTERNATE BENEFITS – Available Today

Microsoft Software Evaluation
  • TechNet Evaluations: Free evaluation software with no feature limits, available for 30-180 days.
  • TechNet Virtual Labs: Free online testing environments, designed to be completed in 90 minutes or less, without the need to install evaluation bits locally.
  • MSDN Subscriptions: Paid offerings providing access to evaluation software for the duration of the subscription.
Microsoft E-Learning Courses
  • Microsoft Virtual Academy: Over 200 free, expert-led technical training courses across more than 15 Microsoft technologies.
Priority Support in TechNet Forums
  • TechNet Forums: Ask technical questions and receive responses from members of the community for free.
Professional Support Calls
  • TechNet Support: Resources for IT professionals, including knowledge base articles, forums, and links to Microsoft partner support.
  • Microsoft Support: Access how-to articles, one-click diagnosis & repair for many issues, and step-by-step self-help instructions.
  • Microsoft Services: Assistance with deploying IT solutions, aligning business and IT strategy, support for IT systems, and more.

So in summary – don’t be discouraged.  Evaluations are being made available to everyone.  E-Learning resources are free (thanks to the MVA).  Heck, you can even install the latest evaluation software on cloud-based hardware using a free Windows Azure trial.
(HINT: Wanna build a test network of Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview servers?  Build them in the cloud!)

30 thoughts on “BREAKING NEWS: Buh-Bye TechNet Subscriptions

  1. No. This is a huge disappointment. 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.

    Like

  2. I'm not even sure what to say. I've found my TechNet subscription to be an invaluable resource, and am mightily disappointed with Microsoft's decision to kill off the program. I agree with Jon — 180 day trials will not suffice. There are instances where I build machines for long-term testing, and I'd rather not have to rebuild them every 6 months. What a let-down.

    Like

  3. I appreciate the feedback and the frustration, folks.  While I wasn't a party to the process for making this decision, I have to imagine that at least partly it was based on the fact that we have so many other good evaluation options available.  If you really need longer than 180 days for your evaluations, you probably should consider the MSDN subscription.  More expensive, yes, but if you really need that longer evaluation, then it's still worth it.

    Like

  4. @Kevin so you are saying if we want the same features as before then we have to pay more? How does that work? I really don't think Microsoft understands what their partners do. Without us you are nothing.

    Like

  5. What a stupid decision. The other evaluation options are not adequate. The MSDN subscriptions are inappropriately expensive for the needs of those who are not developers but instead need to stay abreast of the current Microsoft technologies.

    Like

  6. Yes let's fight this! Rearming 30-day trials is absolutely stupid when you need that lab environment everyday every year, years to come in many cases. I can’t see any good reason to change to MSDN-subscription especially when it’s missing all the software I need like Office, SQL and Exchange for my test labs. So if Microsoft don’t bring alternative for Technet I move to use open source and this will lead dropping Microsoft sales since I only sell programs that I use myself or know how to use and which I can test in real life environments too. Who knows good Open Source Alternative for Exchange?

    Like

  7. For those of us that have to fund our own study for certifications the home lab built on a Technet subscription has been invaluable.  The 'alternatives' offered don't solve the problem.  
    Studying in your own time can easily exceed the 180 day trial.
    The virtual labs, last time I used them, were so painfully slow as to be unusable and don't have the flexibilty that having your own environment gives you.
    The MSDN subscription is simply unaffordable for most people.  The version that includes all server products is £5170 versus £140.
    The VA is a great resource but no substitute for setting up your own servers.
    I am bitterly disappointed at this decision.  

    Like

  8. I completely understand and sympathize.  I wish I could tell you what you want to hear.  Your feedback is definitely going to be shared "up the chain".
    For-what-it's-worth, I know that it's terribly inconvenient.  But if you can't (or don't want to) afford an MSDN subscription, then I personally don't think it's unreasonable to re-install your test/training lab every so often.  Other than the time-out, you're getting fully functional software.  And although it's not much of a consolation, much of what you need to learn also has to do with the initial setup and configuration; so it's not all bad.  Just annoying.  (Heck.. now's a good opportunity to learn PowerShell and/or set up scripted installations, so that you can quickly re-build what you need in an automated way.)
    Here's the thing, too (and I'm sure you probably already know this): Too many people were (are) using the non-timeout software in production.  I know that if you're one of those folks, you might not think of it in this way, but it basically amounts to stealing.  (And here's where you say, "oh.. boo hoo.. poor Microsoft!)  Of course you're completely within your right if you want to look for better or cheaper alternatives.  
    Sincerely, thank you for your comments.  Please keep 'em coming.  
    Kevin

    Like

  9. This is another bad decision by MS, Windows Me, Vista, etc. Looking at the MSDN I would have to get the top level which is 13k to get Exchange, SQL. Having the MS Technet I get all this for a much cheaper price. I really hope this get changed back since, MS is taking away my rights to learn new software in my lab. We can get this changed we just need to keep up the comments.

    Like

  10. Just wanted to throw my feedback in that I succeeded in a 17 year career (so far) on running TechNet at home.  I've run a domain, file and print servers (in addition to things like Hyper-V, IIS, etc.) since NT 4 and am now on Server 2008 R2, with plans to upgrade to Server 2012.  
    My career has involved setting up and supporting Microsoft domains and directories, Exchange, SQL, Office, desktop operating systems and so on.  I've run every version of Windows since 3.1, most of which were done through TechNet.  
    The cheapest MSDN with Exchange and SQL is $6,100.  I just renewed my TechNet sub the day before this announcement came out for $150.  I don't have the money to license the software seprately or for an enormously expensive MSDN sub.  TechNet is used in my house, not in production and it isn't pirated.
    Using time-bombed evaluations is silly.  Try tearing down and rebuilding a working Exchange install every sixth months.  It's just not going to happen.
    Maybe the cloud has made infrastructure people obsolete and that's where this is coming from.  I don't know.
    Novell Netware was all the rage when I started in IT.  I picked Windows Server because I was familiar with Windows and because I could install and run it for very little cost on a relatively cheap PC that sat in my closet.
    If they're worried about piracy or production use, setup a system with less software and fewer activations.  Three to five users should be fine.  If they can do it for Office 365, they can do it for the other products too.
    The question Microsoft should be asking is, what would my career have looked like without all that low-cost Microsoft software?  Are they willing to do without people like me in the future?  Because that's what's likely to happen.  

    Like

  11. I concur with Makroman, re-arming the 30-day trials is a no brainer and outright stupid when one needs the lab environments all year round. There's no good reason to change to MSDN-subscription especially as it doesn't have all the required software. All I can glean from Kevin's last statement is that this decision is simply based on Microsoft's bottom-line (financial) and not advantage to the average TechNet subscriber. The final statement that we're completely within our rights to look for alternatives seems to suggest to me that we're been told to take hike if we're not in agreement with the said decision. It has to be understood that the said 'alternatives' offered don't solve the problem.  
    Studying in my own time would easily exceed the 180 day trial. The MSDN subscription is simply unaffordable for me as the version that includes all server products is £5170 versus £140.
    Truly the VA may be a great resource but its definitely no substitute for setting up my own servers.
    I am very disappointed with this decision.  

    Like

  12. @Ray – Yes, please keep the comments coming.  But to your point "MS is taking away my rights to learn new software in my lab", I have to disagree.  Making it less convenient?  Absolutely.  Taking it away?  No.  That's what evaluation downloads are for.
    @CNC – Unfortunately there is no such thing as a home-use license for Exchange.  Unless I'm mistaken (which could be, because I'm by no means a licensing expert), using it at home for live workloads is the same as using it in business.  

    Like

  13. @Avatar-Sam – I am not trying to say "take a hike", but there's not much more I can say.  I'm just the messenger.  Was the decision purely for "the bottom line"?  I don't know.  I suspect it was a combination of bottom-line plus justifying an organization and effort, weighed against other alternatives.  
    But what if it WAS purely for the bottom line?  I think we can all agree that Microsoft is a business.  And businesses are within their rights to make changes and adjustments; even unpopular and inconvenient ones sometimes.  Just like you're completely within your rights to be angry about it.  I know that that's no consolation for the folks who have depended upon the non-time-out evaluations for some aspect of their personal and/or professional lives.  I do really wish I had better news for you all.  

    Like

  14. It will be impossible continue to support my customer – who use various combinations of your S/W – with 30 day trials. MSDN 6000+ Euros is not affordable for small consultants. And, if will be necessary test a combination of an old versions of your S/W, where are the trials ?

    Like

  15. Major bummer.
    Going through the MSDN subscription is way more expensive and the developer tools are most likely not needed.
    What happens to the licenses currently in use? Stop using them when the subscription ends? That's a major problem for many. Will need to probably spend thousands.
    What about the option to [say] remove a licene of Office 2010 from one system and install it another? [I believe the subscription gave us one installation and 4 re-installs.]

    Like

  16. Couldn't Microsoft go the Adobe Cloud way of providing TechNet subscriptions? If we're always authenticating and have to pay a monthly fee for use (which could end up being about the same amount people are paying now), then everyone wins in this situation. People who need long term labs would be able to keep "paying" for their subscription and others who only need software for 180 days could download it and remove it.

    Like

  17. If we roll it up, Microsoft takes the following advantages away:
    – 2 (free / included) Support Cases
    – The possibility to plan Long term tests – because to be honest: how can you test a System Performance decrease for Long term usage without Long term usage?
    – Early Access on Software
    – Access to old Microsoft Software (like Windows 3.11)
    – and the not anymore updated (in my eyes a huge mistake / I was very disappointed by MS for this) offline TechNet Library
    It just was nice to plan by myself instead of letting Microsoft decide how much time I have to test.
    But @Kevin: "Too many people were (are) using the non-timeout software in production" I can Quote back: "Although the TechNet Subscriptions service has experienced piracy and license misuse in the past, there was no single factor in the decision to retire the TechNet Subscriptions service."

    Like

  18. I have been in the IT industry for many years as an application manager and Technet has been the source of establishing my labs to educate myself and others on Microsoft products. This is will be an immense mistake on Microsoft’s part if they now cease Technet. I will not tolerate having to rebuild labs using trial software every time which will eventually determinate my ability to support these products. Microsoft is definitely turning its back on loyal supporters and will find that competitors will soon fill the void if it continues down this road.

    Like

  19. I use my TechNet subscription, to demo the software and the solution to customers. Upon this our customers decide if they require the solution or not. Once our customers decide to go for the solutions we propose, they sometimes have to purchase extra license. Meaning extra revenue for Microsoft.  Microsoft cannot expect me to re-install my demo environment every few months. All that will happen, is we will look for hack copies of your software.

    Like

  20. Everyone who says to get an MSDN subscription, apart from the cost, is missing one big point: MSDN is licensed for developing and testing your own applications, not for deployment and migration scenarios. The license terms are very specific about that. Only with TechNet can you legally install Windows Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2003 for the purpose of doing a migration to the current versions to plan a migration on a customer's system and make the sale.

    Like

  21. @beakt – The licensing for MSDN subscription downloads doesn't exclude any specific scenarios such as deployment or migration testing.  
    "One person can use the software to design, develop, test, or demonstrate his or her programs on any number of devices. An MSDN subscription also allows the licensed user to evaluate the software and to simulate customer environments in order to diagnose issues related to his or her programs."  msdn.microsoft.com/…/cc150618.aspx

    Like

  22. I, too, use the technet downloads to maintain a lab at home to learn on.  It's my own personal expense for my education and learning. MSDN is not an affordable option for me. I like to go through certification exercises to practice and to think of my own projects to try to see what kind of challenges to figure out.  I can only do this stuff in my spare time when I'm off work, and the thought of somehow having to find more time to keep trying to install and configure something…?  It took me a week just to figure out how to get AD installed in my hyper-v environment so I can try to play around with Sharepoint and its security. I pay the $249 every year feeling it's so worth it to be able to install and practice with these things. Does MS not want that money anymore?  I may be one of many that goes from giving MS $249 a year to almost nothing. Really?  I'm concerned at what I'll do next to keep up on technology that changes faster than I can learn it at work, especially when I work for such a small company that MSDN is not even an option. There is just no budget for education.  I do really like the article Kevin Remote posted.  That's the best thing I've heard since technet's end was announced. I may have to carefully plan my time before the end. I really hope there is some reconsideration.

    Like

  23. Think of it as a recertification of your skills!! If you have to rebuild your environment every six months, you'll definately keep your build skills up to date (and you will be forced to develop a fast orchestration script to auto-configure your environment so you don't have to manually do it) Powershell here we come!! Only kidding by the way.

    Like

  24. Just some observations:  A)  If you don't like the message, you don't shoot the messenger!!  I am firmly in the camp of those that do not like or agree with this decision at all – I feel it's a horrible and terribly short-sighted one, and have publically stated that.  But you also have to understand that Kevin did not make the decision, he's just the one who has to deal with the public outcry and backlash. 😦  B)  We all have up to another year to utilize and enjoy the benefits of a TechNet subscription, why not do it??  Ed Bott article's is really good and we can all leverage the info in it.  C)  Working with 180-day time-bombed trial versions can be done, but it's certainly not ideal and you have to be a little creative.  For example:  Assuming a 6-server pool, you would build one new server per month.  And think of what something like that would do for your PowerShell scripting skills! 🙂
    While I do not understand this decision (other than, as mentioned, Microsoft is a business and is out to make money), there's not a lot that I can do about it other than voice my displeasure thru the appropriate channels.  I have a suspicion, though, that the backlash around the decision to end the TechNet subscriptions will result in something new and similar before too long.  Microsoft simply cannot afford to anger and turn away some of their most loyal customers, like contractors and consultants, who leverage the TechNet subscriptions (legitimately!) and in turn recommend Microsoft products and solutions to their clients and customers.  There is probably no way to properly quantify the amount of revenue that Microsoft has generated as a result of these recommendations, but you can go to the bank that it is very, very substantial.  And that is what needs to be communicated to the powers-that-be.

    Like

  25. @Kevin Remde: I wonder if those above you in the company have any idea how many people and thus companies this will drive to try competing products, or, to just pirate copies for testing.
    No 60-90-180days isnt acceptable, specially when you are forced to do a full reinstall and setup even if you buy a license for the software.
    I showed this to a few people I know who work for large corporations, who buy technet or have it purchased for them by their companies, each said the same thing, once they show those above them, and those above them see the cost of msdn, its more likely then not, they will look at other solutions rather then exchange (exchange being the big one), its already happened in the past with other solutions being replaced by exchange, and, this decission will likely drive them to get something they can get training versions of from the vendor.
    It could also start corporations who have been very stiff necked into looking at the google solution and moving to *nix…..I know many at MS think thats impossible….but I was also told there was no way google would abandon using MS….and they did….
    I use to get technet because, it allowed me to keep up on current software and the changes made, It also allowed me to deploy and test things like exchange when I needed to find a solution for a problem.
    that ends now, from this point forward, If I need MS software, it seems I will have to head over to some of the less reputable sites on the net to aquire it, as I simply cannot afford MSDN even at the lowest level(would take me months to finance that)
    please let those above you know, if anything, this is going to lead to more piracy, and move migration to competing products and ecosystems…..
    p.s. I personally prefer the MS ecosystem, only using *nix when i must, but this will even cause me to stop learning new windows versions and ms software, I refuse to reinstall what will feel like constantly just to make some suit happy, I would rather move to another ecosystem or just tell people and companies to stick with what they got now, and start working on a migration option that dosnt involve MS…..since MS clearly dosnt want business of anybody who cant afford to either buy msdn or production licences for each peice of software they want to test/migrate to.
    note: one company i worked for evaluated and worked on migration for over a year before they started deploying windows 7, had to test every internal and external app to ensure there where no problems….with the new changes, that would have been 2+ reinstalls of everything for each test system….talk about wasted time….and a bad impression to those above when you tell them you are having to reinstall windows and all the software, when even XP installs went YEARS without needing that…..
    Im sorry but, again, all this will do is drive people to piracy and other companies solutions… if thats ms's goal……good job…..I dont think it is though, i think the goal was "moar monies in our pockets!!!"

    Like

  26. AshenTech (and all) – I appreciate the feedback and the passion.  Believe me.. if it were in my power (etc).  And I want you to know that I am indeed forwarding on these comments to "those above" me.  Thanks again.

    Like

  27. I remember back in 2011 when three companies contacted me asking if I would upgrade them from SBS 2003 to native media Windows Server 2008 R2 and Exchange 2010.  I immediately fired up my home server, installed SBS 2003 as a virtual machine along with everything else needed FROM MY TECHNET SUBSCRIPTION and I practiced going through the swing migration 3 times over to make sure I had it right.
    Three companies were able to purchase and upgrade from SBS 2003 to Windows Server 2008 R2/Exchange 2010 because I was able to read the documentation, go through the steps, and test it all out before doing it to their live environments.
    I'm already starting to feel sorry for the SBS 2011 crowd when they want to move to Windows Server 2016/Exchange 2016.  I won't be able to help them since I won't be able to practice the migration.  But since they're small potatoes, anyway, who cares.  Right?
    JamesNT

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s