Kevin Remde's IT Pro Weblog

BREAKING NEWS: Buh-Bye TechNet Subscriptions

BREAKING NEWS: Buh-Bye TechNet Subscriptions

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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

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:

“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:



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!)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • No way. Lets fight this like the Xbox one and pre-owned games

  • @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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.  

  • 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.  


  • 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.

  • 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.  

  • 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.  

  • @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.  

  • @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.  

  • 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 ?

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