Microsoft kills TechNet subscriptions

Microsoft is shutting down its long-running TechNet subscription service. The company won’t sell new subscriptions after 31 August, while existing customers won’t be able to renew their contracts if they finish past that date.

TechNet is Microsoft’s subscription package for IT professionals, which allows them to get access to the full gamut of Microsoft software for an annual subscription fee, ostensibly for testing purposes.

The TechNet Standard subscription, for example, gives access to most of Microsoft’s full products for $199 a year, including Windows and Office. The deal also gives subscribers multiple product keys.

That meant Microsoft saw a boom both in users installing software on PCs for everyday use and in software piracy, with traders getting hold of discounted programs and selling them at a profit. In a bid to tackle the problem, Microsoft cut the number of Windows and Office keys available to TechNet subscribers in 2010 from ten to five, then again to just three last year.

In its FAQ, the company said TechNet was now redundant and that professionals had now shifted away from paid to free, limited-trial copies.

“As IT trends and business dynamics have evolved, so has Microsoft’s set of offerings for IT professionals who are looking to learn, evaluate and deploy Microsoft technologies and services,” said the company. “In recent years, we have seen a usage shift from paid to free evaluation experiences and resources.”

However, it’s still giving customers two months to renew or buy a new TechNet subscription for a further year. Anyone buying a new subscription will need to activate it before 30 September. Those with active Microsoft Certified Trainer accounts will have access to TechNet benefits until 31 March 2014 when their agreements expire. For volume licence customers, benefits will still be available for the remainder of the subscription.

Microsoft said it will focus on its free offerings, including the TechNet Evaluation Centre, Microsoft Virtual Academy and TechNet Forums. In terms of software evaluation, these free services offer trial programs for testing until they hit an expiration date. For example, the enterprise edition of Windows 8 is valid for 90 days and Microsoft Office Professional Plus for 60 days.

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