TechNet Subscriptions Retirement

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Only 3 days ago, the (Microsoft) IT Pro community was surprised and shocked by an e-mail they received from Microsoft regarding retirement of TechNet Subscriptions after its introduction 15 years ago:

Microsoft is retiring the TechNet Subscription service.
As IT trends and business dynamics have evolved, so has Microsoft’s set of offerings for IT professionals who are looking to learn, evaluate and deploy Microsoft technologies and services. In recent years, we have seen a usage shift from paid to free evaluation experiences and resources.  As a result, Microsoft has decided to retire the TechNet Subscriptions service and will discontinue sales on August 31, 2013.

This means that after August 31, you won’t be able to purchase a subscription for downloading software for test and evaluation purposes. When you buy a subscription, you also need to activate it before September 30, 2013. Microsoft will honor current subscriptions, meaning its TechNet Subscriptions end of life date will be August 31, 2014. More information in the TechNet Subscriptions FAQ.

As part of the announcement, Microsoft suggests using time bombed evaluation software from the TechNet Evaluation Center, TechNet Virtual Labs or buying an MSDN subscription amongst other things. Not surprisingly, the majority of the IT Pro world cried foul:

TechNet Evaluation Center
Time bombed evaluation software is no replacement. For example, I have various environments set up in my lab which I use for research, blogging or articles, develop and test scripts, test (customer) scenarios, try to reproduce issues, evaluate 3rd party software, etc. I also use it to deploy environments for demonstration purposes. I don’t consider redeploying and reconfiguring all those environments on a frequent basis an option, apart from the fact that Evaluation Center only offers the recent generation of products.

TechNet Virtual Labs
TechNet Virtual Labs are very limited and aimed at exploring products and exams.

MSDN subscriptions
MSDN subscriptions are way more expensive and are primarily aimed at developers.TechNet Standard entry subscription with all non-developer software (e.g. OS, Exchange, Sharepoint, Lync) costs $199 ($149 renewal) while Professional with Enterprise software and Dynamics costs $349 ($249 renewal). Compared with MSDN‘s entry Subscription which costs $699 ($499 renewal, only getting you Operating Systems and some dev kits .. which IT Pro needs those?) MSDN is inferior. If you’re looking for a matching MSDN replacement which includes server software like Exchange, you’re looking at a $6.119 ($2.569 renewal) Subscription!

Microsoft Virtual Academy
Very limited and not representative of hands-on experience.

As for myself, my subscription expires July 26th, 2013. I’m curious, how does this decision affect you? Let me know in the comments section below.

Meanwhile, if you disagree with Microsoft’s decision, let your voice be heard by signing this petition for an affordable, TechNet comparable MSDN Subscription as an alternative. Microsoft also reversed Xbox One online check and used game policies and will reintroduce the “Start” button in Windows 8.1, so who knows.