My TechNet at Home

Recently I just paid ~21,000yen for a one year MS TechNet Standard subscription for myself, for usage at home.

I’m not at all sure if this is common or whether people still think Technet is just for business – or even if many people have even heard of it. Essentially though, this gets me access to most MS OSs and their variants (32-/64- bit, languages etc.) e.g. XP, Vista, Windows 7 and several server versions. It also allows me to use various versions of Office and other applications. There are restrictions: they have to be my PCs, and for non commercial usage and so on. That works for me.

I actually had several reasons for paying for this, so I just wanted to go over them here.
Firstly, I ama tech person; I use computers a lot. Whilst I use a Mac and Linux, I also use Windows a lot for various things, and I build my own desktops, so I don’t buy PCs with Windows pre-installed. I therefore want to use the latest OSs and play with different applications. I’m also a user of the less famous Office apps like Visio and Project, and they’re included with TechNet Standard which is nice. It also means I can try out various servers like SQL servers in virtual machines for edification.

Another of my niche requirements, is because I live in Japan, which affects me in two ways; firstly, I want a PC which can run in Japanese and English mode at OS and application level. Mac and Linux do this out of the box, but for some reason, Microsoft elects to achieve this via multi user interfaces, MUIs, which are separate downloads from the base OS.

In Windows 7, these are at least available from the Windows Update window, but only on select versions, and for consumers, that’s essentially Windows 7 Ultimate, which carries a retail price of ~230 USD. That’s a lot. In fact, it pays for the technet subscription on its own, and that’s before we allow ~400 USD for Office, or even 100 USD for the Home version if I forget Visio and Project.

There’s then the issue of if I buy a laptop here in Japan – most don’t come with English OS options, though some can be configured with an English keyboard – sorry Japan keyboard fans, I love a big spacebar. So then, I’d be looking at at least a copy of Home Premium at ~ 140 USD.

So for straight economics, it’s a winning solution really, even if only on the OS side, with all the Office apps being a bonus. For the tech side, it really allows me to keep up to date on the Microsoft world, and from a practicality point of view it still works because it allows me to solve all the problems I have with my rather niche situation. (I should point out you actually get ten full license for each version of each OS/application).

I found out about this from Paul Thurott’s Supersite for Windows, and his Windows Weekly podcast, and as far as I can tell, there’s no real downside – even if I don’t continue my subscription (which drops to 150 USD in future years), the software continues to work, I just can’t re-download the .iso files.

Hope this is of value to others.

New graphics card – ATI HD 5750

Hey, don’t fall asleep!

Minor update to my setup – I added an ATI 5750 graphics card – cost about 11,000yen – basically to just to speed up WIndows 7 and play games, even old ones, at 1920*1080 like Darwinia and Far Cry with all the effects on – the old 4350 HTPC card really couldn’t do that. I got the Kuroutoshikou card with an Arctic Cooling fan on it. Very quiet and great results.

Linux / Windows

CPU: Athlon II 250 , 4GB DDR3 RAM, ASRock M3A785GMH mobo, Kuroutoshikou ATI HD 5750, Enermax fans, and Antec Earthwatts 430 PSU. 320GB Seagate HDD + 2 * 1TB Western Digital Green eSATA drives for archives. OS: Fedora 13 (64bit).