By Vicky Lea

In a previous blog I talked about what you could do with free software, and referred to TechNet subscriptions and MSDN subscriptions. In this blog I am going to look into some more detail as to what your TechNet or MSDN subscription will allow you to do, starting first with TechNet.

There are a number of ways to gain access to a TechNet subscription; one is as a Microsoft partner with a silver or gold competency where you will be eligible for TechNet for Microsoft Competency Partners subscription, another way is as an Action Pack Solution Provider subscriber where you will receive TechNet for Microsoft Action Pack Solution Provider. Alternatively if you are not a Microsoft partner you can purchase a Microsoft TechNet subscription.

But what does your TechNet subscription give you access to?

Well, TechNet subscriptions allow the licensed user to download and evaluate the latest full-version software and beta releases as well as giving access to extensive technical information about Microsoft technologies. Meaning that you can confidently evaluate Microsoft software and plan deployments. There are two main subscriptions you can purchase, TechNet Subscription Standard and TechNet Subscription Professional. The benefits that you receive do vary between the two subscriptions but include:

· Access to full-version software for 12 months with no feature limits – for evaluation purposes only

· Microsoft E-Learning

· 24/7 online chat for site assistance

· Priority Support in TechNet forums

· Access to Microsoft infrastructure products

· Two complimentary Professional Support Calls – TechNet Professional Subscription only

To see more detail around these benefits can I recommend you visit this site: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/subscriptions/bb892759.aspx

It is also worth being aware that customers with Software Assurance on qualifying products do also have access to certain TechNet benefits such as the TechNet Subscription SA Services which provide IT Professionals with answers to technical questions from industry colleagues, and TechNet Plus Direct which consists of the same benefits as TechNet Subscription Professional. Check out the Product List document to see more information about the qualifying products for these SA benefits.

The other area to discuss is what you can do with your MSDN subscription.

MSDN subscriptions can be purchased for individual users either alongside Visual Studio or as a standalone subscription in the form of MSDN Operating Systems. Each MSDN subscription has its own set of benefits including:

· Software and Services for Production Use – only with Visual Studio with MSDN

· Software for Development and Testing

· Technical support incidents

· Priority support in MSDN forums

· Microsoft E-Learning

· MSDN Magazine

· MSDN Flash Newsletter

· MSDN Online Chat

The key element that varies with each MSDN subscription is the list of software that is available for production use and the software available for development and testing. To see a complete list of the benefits per subscription check out this site: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/subscriptions/buy.aspx

And if you wish to see more detail on the individual benefits can I recommend you look here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/subscriptions/aa718661.aspx

As with TechNet, MSDN subscriptions are licensed per named user, allowing that user to access the software, services and support associated with the particular subscription. But whereas with a TechNet subscription access to Microsoft software is for evaluation purposes only, with an MSDN subscription the licensed user has access to Microsoft software for design, development, testing and demonstration purposes as well as being able to evaluate software and simulate customer environments in order to diagnose issues related to their programs.