Microsoft responds to pressure over canceled TechNet subscriptions

Microsoft responds to pressure over canceled TechNet subscriptions

Summary: The abrupt cancellation of Microsoft's TechNet subscription service sparked a sustained protest from IT pros, who had relied on easy, inexpensive access to Microsoft's enterprise software for well over a decade. In a string of announcements today, Microsoft extended an olive branch, but fell far short of reversing course.


Microsoft's decision earlier this year to shut down its TechNet subscription service was sudden and unpopular among some of its most loyal customers. An online petition to "Continue TechNet or create an affordable alternative to MSDN" now has nearly 11,000 signatures.

Today Microsoft addressed some of those concerns. No, the governor hasn't shown up with a last-minute reprieve for the program, which stopped accepting new orders on August 31. But Microsoft has made a few changes that address some of the complaints from those soon-to-be-ex-TechNet subscribers.

First, any existing subscriber with an account that is set to expire between September 1, 2013, and September 30, 2014, will get a free 90-day extension of their subscription benefits. The stated purpose: "to help ensure customers have more time to plan for the transition to our other offerings."

Second, Microsoft announced that some older software packages will be made available on the TechNet Evaluation Center.

One of the bigger pieces of feedback we heard was that some people subscribe to TechNet Subscriptions primarily do so to access older product, to prep for migration and do app compatibility testing.  TechNet Evaluation Center houses trial software for our most recent releases and preview/betas -- we're adding prior versions to help enable this migration and testing from products still in mainstream support.  Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and others are available now and we'll be adding additional products in over time.

Meanwhile, in a separate but related announcement, a Microsoft spokesperson told me the company would be contacting members of its Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) program. For years, MCTs have been given a free TechNet subscription to help them prepare course materials and help with their training needs. That group was most affected by the sudden end of the longstanding program, and none of Microsoft's proposed alternatives made sense for them.

In response, Microsoft announced that it will be contacting MCTs directly in the next few weeks. Their existing TechNet subscriptions will be extended  for 90 days without charge and will be replaced shortly with "a new solution that will provide access to non-time bombed software for instructional/training purposes." Details aren't yet available.

I'll be contacting TechNet subscribers and getting their reactions shortly. I don't expect thesse modest changes to make much of a dent inthe grumbling. If you're a current TechNet subscriber, feel free to leave your comments in the Talkback section.

Topics: Software, Enterprise Software, Microsoft

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  • Okay Ed

    No all Microsoft needs to do is "back track" on the RTM release of Windows 8.1 to MSDN and TechNet subscribers and everything will be close to back to normal. But don't count on it, Microsoft have already shown its colors to developers and it’s more like "We simply don't care about you any longer". Good luck to them on their ecosystem build up, without 3rd party developers even their Nokia acquisition will be meaningless. Simply not enough apps and this will shrink as time goes on mainly because of Microsoft's continued need to alienate their development community. Added to all this, this latest TechNet "Olive branch" isn't really much of aan "Olive branch", its more like "You are still screwed, we are just making less painful".
    • Re: Okay Ed

      Looking at the number of flags and votes for your comment, I'd say the Mightgrowsoft fanbois are really divided over this one.
      • "Mightgrowsoft"

        Maturity is awesome!
  • Ex-Technet current MSDN subscriber

    Technet was an amazing resource. I kept binders full of the CDs for years. Still have them, actually. The resource kits on CD were, if anything, just as important as the software.

    My recommendation to Microsoft would be to create a cloud based playground for MCPs and MSDEs to work on their skills. These days a lot of the work of setting up a test environment need not be there, and by doing it in the cloud, Microsoft would have less piracy fears.
    • Darned edit button

      MSCE not MSDE.
    • A CAPITAL idea!

      This is one of the best ideas I've seen in a long time. If it were done right, an Azure account could mimic a lot of what TechNet users do now in the physical realm, on their own hardware. Heck, I'd pay the same annual subscription fee if I could have an Azure account that matched my usage of the TechNet software I use on a regular basis.

      Piracy would become much less problematic if this were done, and we'd be closer to that "cloud-based" OS that Microsoft is now pushing, accessed from a client system running a recent version of Windows or even a Mac. If it could be accessed from a Linux system, it would be almost perfect.
      • re: A CAPITAL idea!

        Become a MS partner at the registered member level. You can get a MAPS subscription for $400/year and as a partner you get a $100/mo Azure credit to spend on whatever Azure service/s you want.
        Fred The Kat
    • Not the same

      Testing in the cloud is not the same as testing on real hardware with real software.
      • Amen to THAT!

        As a QA management veteran with nearly 25 years of experience, I agree with you DT2. Testing in the cloud is NOT the same as testing on real hardware with real software at ALL. Totally different ball game.
  • The Technet cancellation is just stupid

    It will do more harm and cause more lost revenue than anything they ever hope to gain from so called pirated technetium (apparently autocorrect likes technetium so im letting it stand) licenses.

    I have done a lot of testing/POCs and would do more but in the future it seems it will only be for clients with volume licenses. Not going to buy an MSDN subscription for several thousand dollars to be limited by key count. Opportunities lost will pile up with no correlation made. It's just stupid.
    • Recent licensing restrictions unacceptable

      Even the recent Technet licensing restrictions were unacceptable. Testing and learning should not be limited. Figure it out Microsoft... Look at your labs... How do we do that... Why shouldn't we. Dolts.
    • Turn off

      your autocorrect.....technetium is an unstable radioactive trans-metal.
      • technetium is an unstable radioactive trans-metal

        Probably why Microsoft cancelled it. It's at least as good a reason as any they have.
      • Unstable radioactive trans-metal

        Sounds like a perfectly applicable term.
  • The Technet Cancellation is the last straw

    With the rolling out of Windows 8, and now the cancellation of Microsoft TechNet subsciption service, I will start looking at Open Source solutions to Microsoft Server software. I have already migrated to OS X for a trial period to see how well the platform worked for daily activities. Now that Microsoft has killed the TechNet program, I will not be migrating back to Windows or Microsoft Office. Microsoft does not value people keeping skills up in their product, unless they have deep pockets.
    • OSX...

    • Was on the fence, but I can take the hint - stop pushing so hard!

      I felt like I was on the fence and just got knocked off it by their decision. Between all the "improvements" and the effluent ribbon and the immortal bugs that keep getting reincarnated with same features/different names, I feel like MS is just pushing us into a decision we didn't want to make. Open Source, here we come.
      • "Immortal Bugs"!

        I have been a loyal customer since 3.11 for Work groups! Now After purchasing Win8Pro, and going back to Win 7 Pro. I have had a serious "BUG" since Dec. 2012! I have found a community page in MSDN communities where, at least 100 complaints matched my symptoms, almost word for word. There is a group of very sophisticated hackers, They take control of your system(s) to a point where Microsoft claims," not possible", Even though between every low level HDD format & BIOS flash, and CMOS wipe. I have offered to mail in logs proving this, They actually prevent factory BIOS flash from performing properly, as well as not telling you! They have their own BOOT, which bypasses TPM. They then use "legacy drivers for all non-PnP devices", Flashplayer downloads are redirects, windows updates are redirects, they even give you a complete set of false .hlp & .chm files! Part of their genius is that they rewrite old Microsoft Dll's and utilities to achieve their goals. NO anti- virus, rootkit, or any other software reports any problem. They disable your printers and disk burning abilities, also write to USB, is controlled! This is a major operation, they use many hidden Unix partitions, which you may not be able to delete! period! WDC has already replaced a 750 Gb drive I purchased back last Dec. as My first failed attempt to repair the problem. I have tried everything. Microsoft WILL NOT HELP_!!! I am going to scrap my 91Gb's of MP3's that I do not want to add the cost of up, Business records, Jpegs from many years! And buy an entirely new system. If ANYONE thinks they have a solution, please email me!, I am writing from a rescue disk booted from ram drive! The only way to use the last functional PC I own out of several healthy win 7 machines B4 the day I became a user terminal for this group. Even though they have copied anything of value, they will not release my equipment. GOOD LUCK Msoft when this becomes widespread! your lack of service and denial, May just cost you your empire!
    • Yes, apple's equivalent to Technet is fantastic

      You can install trial versions of any osx version on any machine for up to 90 days.

      Oh wait, you can't.

      "That's it, I'm moving from New York to LA because I hate that murder is illegal in New York."

      Too funny, you just can't make this stuff up.
      • Oops, it is even worse for apple

        NOT trial versions, NOT time bombed.

        Buy PCs from any vendor and install fully licensed versions of osx on them with no expiry.

        That's apple's TechNet. Except it doesn't exist. So 100% of the people who say they are switching to osx because of TechNet are lying about it.