Microsoft quietly cuts number of product keys available to TechNet subscribers

Microsoft quietly cuts number of product keys available to TechNet subscribers

Summary: Less than a week ago, Microsoft blogger Paul Thurrott mentioned a supposed TechNet bug, via which subscribers to Microsoft's TechNet service were missing some of their product-license keys. It turns out this wasn't a bug; it's a "feature," according to Microsoft.

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TOPICS: Microsoft, Software
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Less than a week ago, Microsoft blogger Paul Thurrott mentioned a supposed TechNet bug, via which subscribers to Microsoft's TechNet service were missing some of their product-license keys.

It turns out this wasn't a bug; it's a "feature," according to Microsoft.

Thurrott updated his September 19 blog post, noting the change in terms of service were intentional, not an accident. The Register followed up yesterday, noting the quiet change, and claiming the move was done without notice.

I asked Microsoft why it had reduced the number of product-license keys available to TechNet subscribers and told it was primarily a piracy-prevention issue.

If you sign up for a TechNet Professional subscription you now get five product keys. If you sign up for TechNet Standard, you get two. TechNet subscribers previously got 10 product keys as part of their subscription price.

A TechNet Standard subscription costs $199 ($149 for an upgrade). A Professional subscription costs $349 ($249 for a renewal). For customer who want media included, the price of a TechNet subscription is $599 ($499 for a renewal). TechNet subscribers get access to Windows, Office, SharePoint, CRM, ERP and a wide range of other Microsoft software as part of the licensing fee.

When I asked about the change in the number of keys, a Microsoft spokesperson mailed me the following statement:

"Microsoft is committed to helping prevent software piracy, which often results in end users being the victims of software counterfeiters. Counterfeiters abuse product keys to create fake software packages and distribute these to the public. These packages are not licensed, do not have support, and can also include malware and spyware.

"Therefore, Microsoft has decided to limit the number of product keys available through TechNet Subscriptions, for all products, to five for TechNet Professional and two for TechNet Standard. TechNet Subscriptions is intended to support software trial and evaluation, versus a production environment. We offer other programs for volume purchasing and installation. We believe this change maintains a sufficient number of product keys for the majority of our customers based on usage data, while greatly reducing the overall risk of piracy and counterfeiting. We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this action may have caused our subscribers."

Anybody out there caught unaware by Microsoft's move? Do you buy the argument that fewer keys are plenty?

Update: Microsoft officials said the company is not cutting the number of product keys provided to its MSDN licensees.

Topics: Microsoft, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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79 comments
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  • RE: Microsoft quietly cuts number of product keys available to TechNet subscribers

    I think for most the vast majority of TN users it will work out just fine. That said there are going to be some that are testing (and testing is what TN is for, not production) on a larger scale and may have the occasional need for more licenses. MSDN is still an option, but pricier... I see an upsell possibly?
    l_creech
    • Typical M$ greed

      Pay more
      Get less
      Slip it in
      And don't tell ya about it.
      ahh so
      • RE: Microsoft quietly cuts number of product keys available to TechNet subscribers

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      • RE: Microsoft quietly cuts number of product keys available to TechNet subscribers

        @ahh so

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      • RE: Microsoft quietly cuts number of product keys available to TechNet subscribers

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    • RE: Microsoft quietly cuts number of product keys available to TechNet subscribers

      @88Fan Please Matthew, run to your advertising (Google) or repackaging (Apple) company for your consumer goods, but try and realise that research has to be done by someone, if only so Apple and Google can rip it off.<br><br>Touch has very limited use. It's fine for a low resolution interaction with close, small surfaces, but it's useless for text editing and programming, graphics and wanting to sit comfortably away from a large screen. It also promises to incrtease the spread of disease, if more of those filthy iToys are handed around.<br><br>Kinect (ooh another MS research product) offers another modality where the computer does the hard work and you just move around. Couple this with glasses with a head up display and you have computing anywhere that could also overlay on reality. <a href="http://www.arabaoyunlarimiz.gen.tr/kiz-oyunlari/friv-3.html"><b>friv</b></a>
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  • RE: Microsoft quietly cuts number of product keys available to TechNet subscribers

    I subscribed when I read the LifeHacker article (http://lifehacker.com/5569550/save-money-on-microsoft-purchases-with-a-technet-standard-subscription) suggesting it was a good way to get multiple copies of Windows and Office and such. I imagine many other people did too. I suspected it was only a matter of time before Microsoft realized that there were too many people getting too much software and not actually using it for evaluation purposes only.

    I think it's actually reasonable that you get only 2 licences for each version of Windows for the standard subscription ($199), since the intention is that they are for evaluation purposes only. Do you really need more than two copies of each version if you're only evaluating it? That being said, I don't think it's fair that the terms changed half-way through my subscription. I'm not sure I would have subscribed (Standard subscription) if I knew I was only getting two licences per version.
    zoobra
    • Next time...

      @zoobra <br><br>read the fine print.<br><br>I wonder if when accepting Microsoft's licensing terms you were aware of the fact that by doing so you were basically giving away all your rights and giving them <i>carte blanche</i> to do whatever they wanted to do with your subscription.
      OS Reload
      • Which TechNet subscription did you end up buying?

        @OS Reload
        Just curious.
        NonZealot
      • @zealot: Do I look like someone who sees serfdom as a valid option?

        Those who refuse to respect my rights get <b>nothing good</b> from me, in fact they face serious imminent risk of getting something that will definitely not make them any good.<br><br>Sheesh!
        OS Reload
      • Got it

        @OS Reload
        So you are complaining about something that doesn't affect you. Just wanted to clarify. Thanks!
        NonZealot
      • @Zealot I'm defintely NOT complaining about Microsoft in fact I'm loving it

        I'm complaining about those who accept being abused by Microsoft and even have a word to defend Microsoft.

        I'm complaining about <b>bad citizens</b> who by neglecting their own rights make it worse for the rest of us.
        OS Reload
      • I was simply asking for clarification

        @OS Reload
        And you clarified that you were complaining about something that didn't affect you. Thanks again!
        NonZealot
      • @Zealot: Are you dumb? Of course ut affects me!

        I wrote above: <i>"I'm complaining about bad citizens who by neglecting their own rights make it worse for the rest of us."</i>

        If their non-citizen behavior makes it worse for me then it affects me. Is it so hard to understand?
        OS Reload
      • RE: Microsoft quietly cuts number of product keys available to TechNet subscribers

        @OS Reload

        "Rights", at least in the U.S., are only defined and protected between the government and the individual. There are not, and never have been, "rights" in private business transactions.
        aep528
      • @aep528: I'll try not to forget that if I meet you

        Just don't complain if you come out of our interaction poorer than when you first met me. No rights in private transactions, huh?

        With friends like you Microsoft needs no enemies.
        OS Reload
      • Jabberspeak

        @aep528
        [i]"Rights", at least in the U.S., are only defined and protected between the government and the individual. There are not, and never have been, "rights" in private business transactions. [/i]
        <small>[...]</small>
        [i]It's not illegal. It may be a violation of the TOS, but, as Microsoft is not the government, by definition is it not illegal.[/i]

        Beyond the jabberspeak of "rights" and "illegalities" versus "violations" and broken promises, you do get what he is getting at, right? Or are you a numb nut lawyer by chance?
        klumper
      • RE: Microsoft quietly cuts number of product keys available to TechNet subscribers

        @OS Reload

        Does anyone have a copy of the fine print? Makes you wonder what else you've agreed to.

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