Dell recommends Windows 8.

TechNet Changes May Affect Your Software Strategy

Brien Posey, Freelance Writer and Former CIO | 8/15/2013 | 20 comments

Brien Posey
Significant changes are coming to Microsoft TechNet. If your organization uses TechNet software for planning or testing, you may need to modify your approach.

TechNet has really evolved over the years. Ten years ago, TechNet subscribers received large binders that were (sometimes literally) bursting at the seams. These binders contained a treasure trove of Microsoft software. They contained CDs or DVDs for practically every Microsoft product (with Microsoft Flight Simulator being the notable exception), and also DVDs for every conceivable localization. For example, when Windows XP was released, the TechNet binder must have included 15 to 20 different XPs, one for each language. I still occasionally break out the Chinese or Arabic DVDs, just to mess with friends.

Microsoft has long since given up the binders and physical media that were for so long a staple of the TechNet subscription. While the move away from physical media was a big change, the biggest changes to TechNet have occurred within the last year.

Late last year, Microsoft announced it was going to stop including consumer-oriented software in TechNet subscriptions. The original announcement said that TechNet was geared toward business environments, so consumer-grade software really didn't fit in with TechNet's true purpose. The change ultimately meant that operating systems such as Windows 7 Ultimate were removed. I personally suspect that this change had something to do with preventing software piracy.

More recently, Microsoft announced it is retiring the TechNet subscription program entirely. The purpose of the TechNet subscription has always been to allow organizations to evaluate Microsoft software prior to purchase. Since Microsoft now makes evaluation software freely available for download on its website, there is presumably no need for organizations to subscribe to a paid TechNet subscription.

While this idea sounds logical on the surface, the changes could mean that some organizations will have to rethink the way they do things, especially with regard to planning for software upgrades or deployments.

TechNet software was licensed for nonproduction use, and the software did not have an expiration date so long as the TechNet subscription remained in effect. Thus many organizations have been using TechNet software to build lab environments for deployment and upgrade testing. For instance, if an organization were contemplating an upgrade to Windows 8, it might build a small-scale lab environment that mimics its production environment and then work through the Windows 8 deployment process in that lab.

While it will still be possible to do this using evaluation software downloaded from the Microsoft website, most of Microsoft's evaluation software has an expiration date. This shouldn't be a big deal for short-term testing, but it will be problematic for those who use their lab environments on an ongoing basis. For example, some organizations may initially build a lab environment as a way of testing a new operating system, but may keep that lab environment in place for the purpose of testing new applications or new patches. This approach simply cannot be used if the evaluation software is set to expire on a certain date.

The other issue with downloading evaluation software from the Microsoft website is that doing so may lead to sales calls. I recently downloaded a preview release of Windows Server 2012 R2. Shortly after doing so, I received multiple sales calls from representatives at Microsoft who wanted to evaluate my software needs.

The good news is that those who want to build semi-permanent lab environments will still have some options for doing so. One option is to subscribe to MSDN. Even though TechNet subscriptions are going away, MSDN remains a viable option for those who need non-expiring evaluation software.

Another option is to take a look at Windows Azure. Although Windows Azure does not offer as much software as is available on MSDN, it is a decent option for building a lab environment in the cloud.

It's really kind of sad to see Microsoft retiring TechNet subscriptions after all this time. Even so, I'm glad to see that MSDN remains as a viable option for former TechNet subscribers.

Related posts:

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Trek   TechNet Changes May Affect Your Software Strategy   8/30/2013 7:00:18 PM
Re: How did I forget about MSDN?
The real test will be after its gone and see how people adapt.  It may be that Microsoft believes the service cost is greater than the revenue,  but whether or not that holds true will be known after it is gone.  Then who knows, maybe it will return. 

I've also noticed Microsoft and NBC have ended their 16 year relationship and that online "MicrosoftNBC" is now "NBCNews".
SaneIT   TechNet Changes May Affect Your Software Strategy   8/26/2013 7:31:55 AM
Re: How did I forget about MSDN?
I don't know if I want to compare it to the Zune.  MSN messenger maybe...

Their licensing plans have been confusing for as long as I can remember but there has always been an expert or two out there who could teach you how to get the most out of your licensing dollars.  The TechNet changes aren't so much that a product they've been struggling to keep alive is finally being let go.  They are taking a resource that many people use and see as a value added tool and uncoupling it from Enterprise Agreements.  It would be more like selling Zune's without the ability to charge them.
Trek   TechNet Changes May Affect Your Software Strategy   8/24/2013 12:14:07 AM
Re: How did I forget about MSDN?
I guess this is all part of Microsoft's strategy to steam line.  Though it's not going down with out a fight. IT Pros To Microsoft: Save TechNet::Brought to you by TechWeb


Microsoft has made some other surprising moves in the past, such as ending MSN messenger and the Zune Music player. 


Microsoft to discontinue Windows Live Messenger, offer Skype ... 


Microsoft Kills Off Zune Music Player:
SaneIT   TechNet Changes May Affect Your Software Strategy   8/20/2013 7:39:12 AM
Re: How did I forget about MSDN?
That is something to think about, how many companies are going to look at the cost and just get more bitter.  It gets tough figuring out how the licensing schema works and having a moving target doesn't help.
Susan Fogarty   TechNet Changes May Affect Your Software Strategy   8/19/2013 11:14:52 AM
Re: How did I forget about MSDN?
Polandro, yikes, that is quite a bit of money! Good luck with the petition!
Susan Fogarty   TechNet Changes May Affect Your Software Strategy   8/19/2013 11:10:23 AM
Re: How did I forget about MSDN?
Consolidating and eliminating the duplication would seem to make sense, as long as everyone who needs it still has access to the content.
JosephMoody   TechNet Changes May Affect Your Software Strategy   8/19/2013 10:50:32 AM
Re: Save TechNet Community

Thank you for that link! I just signed the petition. Only 400+ more people to go!
User Ranking: Blogger
anthony.nima   TechNet Changes May Affect Your Software Strategy   8/19/2013 7:29:05 AM
Re: How did I forget about MSDN?
@tuscany: Yes having user feedback is the best way to figure out the success rate of the software. I think its always better to have a beta version free uploaded towards the net and allow users to use and provide feedback. Then based on it do the necessary changes if needed and then release the final copy.    
polandro   TechNet Changes May Affect Your Software Strategy   8/19/2013 5:18:43 AM
Re: How did I forget about MSDN?


The main difference is about £5,000. That is, I can ask my company to renew my Technet subscription for £167 + tax, but now that it has been discontinued, they would need to spend £5,170.56 to give me the same fuctionality.

I would also receive a lot of development tools I don't need.


Ed Bott's article here, gives some insight. If you agree sign here!

Tuscany   TechNet Changes May Affect Your Software Strategy   8/18/2013 10:59:47 PM
Re: How did I forget about MSDN?
@Trek   You are so correct.  Software will always "somehow" get out to the public.  It is the easiest way to get testing and feedback.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>

The blogs and comments posted on do not reflect the views of TechWeb,, or its sponsors., TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from Brien Posey
Brien Posey   9/5/2013   10 comments
One of the main benefits of virtual desktop infrastructure is the ability to run many virtual machines on a single host, making the most efficient possible use of the resources available. ...
Brien Posey   8/28/2013   57 comments
By now you know that Windows 8.1 will release to the public on October 18. You may not know that with Windows 8.1, Microsoft is releasing a brand new version of Internet Explorer, IE 11.
Brien Posey   8/22/2013   22 comments
Operating system upgrades have always been something of a crapshoot. We as administrators make every effort to follow all of the recommended best practices, but it is difficult to know ...
Brien Posey   8/6/2013   10 comments
The tool of choice for Microsoft operating system deployments is System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). For those who have never worked through a bare metal Windows 8 deployment, it ...
Dell Information Resources
On-demand Video with Chat
The culture of work is changing. Tech-savvy and always-connected people want faster, more intuitive technology, uninterrupted services, and freedom to work anywhere, anytime, on a variety of devices.
Latest Archived Broadcast
Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) is about more than just a device.
© 2019 UBM TechWeb - Privacy Policy