Leaving Product: Microsoft Technet

Actually, to be more accurate, Microsoft is retiring it’s venerable TechNet, with renewal only available until the end of August 2013 for one final year. Mine was actually due for renewal this month for one last time, but I’ve decided to bite the bullet and not renew. It used to cost ~ 20,000yen to start, and 16,000yen to renew, so that’s [sort of] saved.

TechNet [Standard] was a way people in the IT business could get a massive range of Microsoft products to install, test, break and generally play with and get to understand, all at a reasonable price. The caveat: no production use – should really be for lab and test setups.

I started mine in 2010 and have used it a lot for learning bits about aspects of Windows and other MS products I didn’t know about, and trying to get time with systems I would never have otherwise been able to touch, or have reason to use.

Microsoft hasn’t definitively stated a reason they’ve retired it, but many things point to, if not piracy, at least abuse of the system. Some sites, including reputable places like LifeHacker had suggested Technet Standard as a cheap way to get all your software. Over the years then, Microsoft had dropped the number of licenses per application/OS, from 10 to 2, and whereas previously the EULA said the licenses for installs would work after a subscription had ended – that’s no longer the case. That does point a finger in the general direction of abuse in some ways

I actually asked Technet support how long my installs would work after my July 31st finish date, and all they would say was that I was required to remove all Technet subscription software by the end date. That’s fine.

The only long term installs I had was a Windows 8 Pro box, and a recent Server 2012 server I was using on my home server to play with Storage Spaces, both of which I’ve already rebuilt – the former with a Windows 8 Standard license I bought, and the server with a GNU/Linux Mint install, using LVM to replace Storage Spaces.

Microsoft has said that many wont need Technet going forwards, since their 30-90 day trials should be enough. Given that many of my installs were VMs, that sounds fine to me, and since it’s taken very little effort for me to get off Technet, I don’t have too negative a view of it.

However, I can understand a lot of IT Pros, small businesses and such feeling a bit annoyed by this by this – the Action Pack may be an option for some, but a full blown MSDN license is likely to be too expensive, and rebuilding machines every 90 days may be a burden (if it can’t be scripted). We’ll see.

It’s possible Microsoft’s shift to cloud offerings means these small system builders and integrators will no longer be needed by the mothership – don’t build an Exchange server, use Outlook.com, don’t have a file server, use SkyDrive Pro and so on. I can see it, but what with Microsoft’s erratic view of it’s customers of late, and that most TechNet users were the people who build for end users it may cause some ill will, but what would their alternatives be? Suddenly offer Open Source alternatives?  That’s a lot of retraining.

For me then, not much change, except I have to get the time limited versions, so I can no longer tinker when I have time with a VM as I used to. A good thing is that it’s putting me back into GNU/Linux for servers again, and that’s already been fun – it’s been a while.