Microsoft’s announcement this week that they will be ending the popular TechNet Subscription offering has received a lot of coverage in the news. Microsoft says the decision is based on their desire to focus on other offerings.

From the TechNet subscriptions FAQ:

Microsoft is retiring the TechNet Subscriptions service to focus on growing its free offerings, including evaluation resources through the TechNet Evaluation Center, expert-led learning through the Microsoft Virtual Academy, and community-moderated technical support through the TechNet Forums to better meet the needs of the growing IT professional community.

So far the only positive or neutral responses I have seen are from people with are either a developer (and get what they need via an MSDN subscription) or who otherwise get access to all the bits that TechNet provides via some other means (eg their employer’s license agreement).

Personally I have mixed feelings about this decision. As an MVP I receive an MSDN subscription that fills my needs. However, I was a long time TechNet subscriber before becoming an MVP and credit a lot of my career development to the testing and evaluation I did with the software. And MVP renewal is not something I take for granted, so in another year I may not have that MSDN subscription to fall back on.

What about you? How does this decision by Microsoft impact you? Do you feel that time-limited evaluation licenses, the Virtual Academy, and the TechNet Forums meet your needs better?

About the Author

Paul Cunningham

Paul is a former Microsoft MVP for Office Apps and Services. He works as a consultant, writer, and trainer specializing in Office 365 and Exchange Server. Paul no longer writes for


  1. Scott

    Simply put, this gave me the drive to move everything I have to Linux. I cannot afford a multi-thousand dollar subscription just so I can fiddle around with products to see what is best for my customers. For $150 a year, the access I got was unparralleled, and now, it’s not. My clients are no longer getting recommendations to invest in Microsoft at all. Domain servers ? Linux. File servers? Linux. Email servers? You guessed it, Linux. It does the job better, and without me having access to a reliable lab of software, I’ll just stick with the free(er) alternative.

  2. O. D. Williams

    If piracy is really the problem, just restrict sales to those with a business license and a DUNS number. No license and DUNS number, no TechNet subscription – Problem Solved!

    This is going to kill our consulting and configuration testing business. It is also going to hurt MS’s bottom line. Suicide is not the path to business success, Microsoft. Why didn’t you focus test this on a group of 12 year olds before killing TechNet? I’m sure that a 12 year old could have told you why this is a very bad idea – apparently your best managers are not up to the task. Too bad!

  3. Mike

    I am a one man IT consulting business. I have subscribed to Technet for well over a decade. I remember paying for Technet Plus when that allowed me to download the software I needed to setup up my test environments. When it became part of the standard subscription I was thrilled. I rely on the ability to download not only the latest, but previous Microsoft products. I leave several of the environments running long term to facilitate testing service packs, patches and applications in an environment that looks like a real world customer site.

    Between killing SBS and now TechNet, t’s pretty apparent what they think about those of us that have evangelized their products for years to small businesses. No, we are not massive consulting firms working with huge clients, but there are a number of us that will now be looking for different solutions to sell our customers. You want us to sell your cloud services? Good luck with that. I have created a cloud services bundle to sell my clients that does not include a single MS product.

  4. Willy Eidsaunet

    I share most of the views expressed in previous comments. I have from time to time considered switching both my main server and operating environment as well as my test systems to a Linux base, but have been reluctant due to the required investment in set up and training as well as the lack of totally congruent solutions in the linux world. However, when MS decides unilaterally to screw their customers and supporters in this manner, they are pushing me to look for alternatives and in this way forcing me to finally make the leap. One can still hope that MS management will realize the tremendous negative impact this is going to have on top of the Windows 8 screw up, but I am getting increasingly sceptical that there remains any sensible management in the company.

  5. Cody Skidmore

    I wanted to send a head’s up to everyone. A petition does exist. It received more than 3,700 signatures as of this morning. It will likely reach 4,000 within the next four hours. So you understand the momentum, it received 700 signatures in roughly 24 hours. The petition can be found here.

    We’re receiving press coverage in the U.S. and abroad. Microsoft acknowledged on the 11th they’re aware of the uproar they caused and are listening to our community while considering a decision.

    We’re asking for your help convincing Microsoft of the folly in closing TechNet. Please join us.


    Cody Skidmore

  6. Peter

    Seriously not impressed with this. I’m an IT pro and have been doing it since the very early MS days of Windows for Workgroups etc. Technet back then was our bible, and it was the only way to get our hands on early releases to test and deploy. And those were much simpler times.

    Now, we have the nightmare of cumulative updates to contend with, which isn’t counting the usual patching (which Microsoft are getting sloppy with) as well as the “oh crap” bugfix support patches. There aren’t many companies out there with the resources (or willingness) to pay in full for a close-to-good-enough replica of production for testing and deployment.

    As for learning, demonstrating and just “what happens if I do this” – that’s now the realm of those who get their software illegally or MSDN subscribers. Sure we can download and install for 90-120 days, but us professionals need lab setups that don’t have to be setup every 3 months. Which applies even more to those studying/training on our own time, because, well, every company has huge training budgets and really enjoys it when their IT pros are offsite for a week or more.


  7. jacob

    I use TechNet to have software running at my office identical to what I have installed at customers locations so I can troubleshoot and develop their software. without TechNet’s full line I can honestly say I will be selling less of Microsoft’s products as I will not be able to afford buying and trying out every piece of software to see if it works with everything. and if you only have 90 days and then want to test it with something else you have to fully reinstall everything which is a pain and I won’t have the time. I disagree with Microsoft’s decision and strongly hope they decide to continue tech net. I wish there was a petition somewhere we can sign to let Microsoft know how important it is to keep tech net subscriptions.

  8. Andy

    Microsoft just don’t seem to be listening to it’s target market and it will be the down fall of Microsoft to come.
    – Technet Ending
    – TMG Ending
    – Windows 8 Enterprise with touchscreen UI
    – Windows Server with touchscreen UI (Why, JUST WHY?!)
    – Exchange 2013 no console, web portal only + PowerShell
    – RSAT for 2012 not compatible with Windows 7

    None of the above is wanted, the market has said this over and over and nobody at Microsoft has listened.

    Whilst I am a Windows Professional I have lost all inspiration to stay focused with Microsoft when they push their points forward and offer no flexibility in their vision vs our productivity.

    1. Nick

      IE10 GPO gone, must use GPP to manage IE10 now

  9. Ralph Vieux

    This is the letter I wrote to Microsoft. I think they should really rethink this.

    Hello Microsoft Support/TechNet Team and who ever reads this.

    180 days of free evaluation just will not work as being enough time to test and evaluate software. I am begging you to please do not Discontinue this offering that I know has helped many in the field including my self and a first year TechNet Subscriber I was looking forward for years of testing and running my deployment lab where I get to make the mistakes rather than in production environment.

    Please rethink this decision I am more than happy to pay the yearly cost for this service. Again Please rethink this decision. I have been in IT for 15 years still love and enjoy what I do. My success is due to partly Microsoft and offerings such as this

  10. Simon Shaw

    Not very happy about it, despite not using mine, (have MSDN access).

    I note that Microsoft seem to be on a cost saving spree at the moment. We received emails saying there will no longer be email support for Partner queries, (they suggest we use the forums). And no more Technet. A few other emails seem to be indicating that they are tightening up in a lot of places. (Oh and we have to do Microsoft self-audit on software use).

    Maybe things are tight over there?

  11. Randal Repario

    I was planning to sign up for Technet to study Microsoft products in-depth and to set up home labs. By killing off Technet they’ve made Open Source more attractive now . . .

  12. tushar jashav

    Ubuntu is getting very very attractive right about now!

  13. rabbani

    This is very unscrupulous verdict MSFT please rollback your decision. Administrators, contributors and user may get dissatisfied with the decision taken by Microsoft, with this decision Microsoft may face toughest times in near future, the growth of business may be declined. I strongly urge Please revert your decision please

  14. Sean_M

    The loss of the TechNet subscription is truly a sad moment for any dedicated IT pro. As a long time contributor to technical forums the ability to have a pre-configured VM running the array of MS products has been invaluable. I can setup an environment and within a few moments of seeing a question I can fire up the environment and test possible solutions or scripts and then post an answer that has been tested and validated in a non-production environment so at least the I know the asker has a good chance of no negative affect coming from my suggestion.

    The MSDN option is not viable for most IT Pros as the cost is far too high and most of us do not require the suite of developer tools anyway. What we do need is access to systems we can deploy for training and troubleshooting.

    For those of us that are serious about our careers and helping the technical community but are also have not reached MVP status this is going to be a big hit to our ability to deploy lab only solutions and that will lead to a loss of some of those useful contributions.

    Microsoft should strongly review this decision and with luck reverse it.

  15. Fraser Badcock

    This is very disappointing.
    I use my technet subscription to study for certification and test different configurations without the software expiring after a period of time.
    Not happy……

  16. Mike

    I’d much rather them raise the TechNet Subscription then kill it off all together. This has been a critical part of learning MS technologies and it’s a shame they are doing this. Just like with their new xbox, they need to reconsider their plans

  17. mtn_lion

    Deeply disappointed by this announcement. As a Registered Partner and small business IT provider, the availability of virtually all Microsoft software–including previous versions–through TechNet has been a critical resource for us. Action Pack is great for our internal business use but not nearly adequate for all testing/learning needs; and from what I can see, what’s available in the “TechNet Evaluation” program is a tiny subset of MS software. TechNet’s a program that works and contributes tangibly to our satisfaction as an MS partner–so by all means, let’s discontinue it!

  18. mbkitmgr

    I kind of expected this to happen.

    I am a partner. I watched MS focus at Partner events and provide financial incentives to move to the cloud.
    If take up was slow, what would be the next most logical solution? Squeeze from the other side.

    My suspicion is that they have looked at other ways to lever firms to the cloud offering, by revoking Technet. As they would no doubt know this is how many smaller IT firms maintain the skills and knowledge required to be proficient and survive in the industry. I tried the 60/90/120 day evals for a while, but rebuilding a lab getting it to a similar config as before, then developing the next phase for a client was amusing. As we know, you can install a product 10 times and get different outcomes after each installation.

    I don’t buy the BS from MS about why, being a partner I have seen my share of Inflated statistics and reasons to revoke certain benefits (even as recently as Windows 8 supposed adoption rates).

    While MS has been my bread and butter product offering for 18 years, I now hope that someone is looking at developing suitable alternatives for all things MS, so that we can offer productive and practical alternatives to our clients. In areas where it was a good fit, I have dropped MS server and replaced it with Linux of various flavors, which has delivered better results than I had anticipated.

  19. Dave Embury

    For over ten years, TechNet has been mission critical for training, testing and to market Microsoft solutions. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going to look at other vendors such as Linux, and Google.

  20. Nicole Fabian

    I can only express extreme dislike to this. At the moment I am working for one of the bigger consulting companies/gold partners in germany with access to license keys if needed. But for all the smaller companies or freelancers out there who built their test environments on technet subscription, this is a slap in the face. 90 day trial licences will get you nowhere if you have to build complex test scenarios, trying to figure out why certain things go wrong or developing stuff.
    Who of us is willign to rebuild his/her lab every few months ? I just have the feeling MS does not even bother that they will lose a lot of input from the results of troubleshooting/tests in labs … we do support this company by sharing workarounds for bugs (ehrm..I mean, features, working as designed…), solving problems and sharing experiences with others. Do they really want to kill this entirely ?

  21. Shawn Kane

    MS is doing it again to the small business. They have no feelings for the small people and really only care about the enterprise deep pocket company’s. They are killing Technet and really not giving the small business people any fall back. I run my business on being able to use the software for a long time so I can learn it and be able to support my clients from what I have learned by using the software. Small Business server is not something you can learn in 90 days and most of use cannot afford to build a big box to run a bunch of different OS;s in VM’s. Using the product from day to day gives you a good hands on training. I don’t know about anyone else but I cannot really afford to take training classes or do I have the time.

    Thanks again to MS for screwing the small business, just like the government. They must be taking a page from the white houses screw the middle class play book.

  22. Grumpy

    Being a leader of a Microsoft User Group for several years now, I’ve been touting the TechNet subscription for IT Pros to use ….both from a keep up with the latest and greatest, and to use for the oodles of testing they do.

    This will only push people to use “questionable” copies of the software, reuse licensing keys from prod environments, etc.etc. etc. If they don’t announce a comparable replacement, this will be another case of Microsoft thinking they are fixing the problem by shooting one of their limbs off.

  23. ebuford

    I’ve relied on the TechNet subscription for years as my playground for building out virtual worlds for testing. The beauty of this is I can build out the virtual servers and then shut them down for weeks and months before returning to them to test whatever they were built for. I’ve also directed people to purchase the TechNet subscription as the support cases that come with it are often a good way to get familiar with Microsoft’s support and clean up stuff they can’t figure out in their own environment. The cost of MSDN subscription is just more than I’m willing to pay…

  24. keruzam

    MS information is useless. I cannot believe that someone would pay for this. so it’s their support.

    1. Cesar

      I agree. its convenient to have the software and keys right there when you need it NOW to test a certain product or feature. You won’t have the real world situations such as errors and debug information in the MS labs as those will be already configured or locked down.

  25. fr

    This is definitely bad news for our company, the limited free trials will not be an adequate replacement for test setups and training. There are plenty of situations where you might run the same systems for much longer than the evaluation time limit, without breaking any of the TechNet terms, and now a lot of time is going to be wasted trying to rebuild these after they expire. Right now trial versions don’t even seem to be available for anything but the current version for most of their products, the old versions need to be made available asap if they want to try to convince anyone this is going to work.

    The cost of the version of MSDN that would give us access to everything we need is far too high. If they had continued with TechNet as it but increased the price to a similar level to the cheapest MSDN then whilst it would be a big increase we would probably still just about be able to justify it.

    1. keruzam

      I am sure they will replace this shortly with be$$er voffering. stay tuned.

  26. James

    The decision to kill TechNet is really bad in my opinion. It is a valuable service to IT professionals. TechNet allowed me to setup all kinds of lab scenarios for testing purposes…without having to rebuild it every few months. They could have solved this with other licensing solutions.

  27. Andrew Laxton

    I think this is going to hinder Microsoft in people/companies adopting their technologies

    How many IT Pros spend their own money on a TechNet subscription, not only to have the latest and previous products available to them for learning and deploying, but also so that they can recommend them to either their employer or if they are a consultant, their client.

    It was also a central location for finding all of the products, I for one will miss it as it’s helped me learn and deploy servers and their associated technologies, not to mention companies cannot afford expensive training courses and the time out and I cannot personally afford the MSDN subscription to match TechNet.


    1. James

      I agree. For years, I’ve used my own money to purchase TechNet subscriptions. I would never have been able to learn Exchange or other server software without the ability to set up a test lab using a real world scenario. I’ve learned more from breaking/fixing things than I could ever pick up from a closed, Microsoft virtual lab. None of the proposed offerings can compare to what you can get with TechNet.

      MSDN is not an option since it’s coming out of my own pocket.

    2. Nick

      Well said,

      I work for a small company that has little to no budget for training. I learn the new technologies and software on my own. I don’t see how I will stay up-to-date now. Especially at the rate MS is releasing new products. This was a valuable resource.

      I did like the comment above. At least if they would keep the TechNet operating for certified individuals.

      They have really made it difficult if not impossible for a small company and the working IT Pros that need to learn outside of work. After commuting and work I only have several hours a week to put into deploying and testing new systems. I fear without access to the new systems it will be easy to become obsolete in this ever-changing environment.

      Microsoft has a tendency to shoot itself in the foot and they have done so again.

  28. Saran

    I’ve used my technet subscription to study the software. it saved a lot of time, I didn’t have to keep rebuilding when a time limit was reached. It meant I could get to grips with more of the technical stuff to try out. Building Lync sccm exchange, sql and AD takes time. Having trial/Evaulation copies that expire would mean my studying would take longer. Fortunately I only have sccm left to put in to the companies live environment, the rest I’ve studied are already in, the Lync rollout will begin next week. If it hadn’t been for technet I wouldn’t have been able to build up the knowledge to put it into our environment. We don’t have test systems here, no money for the resources. Shame….

  29. Dave McAfee

    This isn’t a good decision from MS. Many, many small IT companies rely on Technet as a way to stay in touch with technology and taking that away or trying to force people to buy in to MSDN subscription is yet another kick in the face from a company far too big for it’s own good.

    I can only imagine the likes of google sitting back and chuckling at Microsoft, alienating the very people who champion their products. Master stroke.

  30. Fraser Munro

    I totally agree with the above commenters, the TechNet subscription has always been a great way for smaller companies to try/test/learn technologies new to them, and as an excellent learning resource – extensive labs for various Microsoft software are often used, and it would be a real pain having to reinstall all of the various servers every 90 days!

    I now work for a company that has an MSDN ultimate sub, which is fantastic, but previous much smalle companies I have worked for could never have afforded th cost of one of the more ‘useful’ subscriptions – immediately dismissing the cheapest (but more expensive than TechNet….) subscription

  31. Marcus McCran

    Technet is a fundamental asset to an IT Professional if access to a corporate MSDN subscription is out of reach. I really don’t see why they are doing this, if the goal is to limit people from misusing the software benefits of the subscription then efforts should be focused more Licensing operations.

    I’m not in agreement with this decision and to be honest it’s a prime example of MS turning it’s back on it’s community.

  32. Roland Beaumont

    Its a double edged sword for Microsoft, on one hand they know that many of use run our business on a technet subscription as well as test, the action pack content doesnt really cut it either too limited. On the other, they want to be seen to give you chance to test on free resources, however of course those being limited to 90 days. During busy periods, 90 days may not be long enough for us smaller concerns.

    For me, this is yet another slap in the face from the MS, but I do understand why they are doing it.

    MSDN far too expensive for smaller support companies, as I would need to spend $5000 to get what is needed.

    Ill live with Action pack, but one disgruntled long term MS supporter is now even unhappier.

  33. Jon Underwood

    My Technet sub was central to me moving into the Wintel space. Though I can afford the $600 MSDN sub, its a sizeable chunk more without any real extra return.

    Were I just starting out, an MSDN sub might be beyond me, and I mightn’t have access to an enterprise licensing scheme (my first two jobs way back did not).

    Can’t see the logic and it really does just seem like MS shooting itself in the foot.

    1. Avatar photo
      Paul Cunningham

      Sadly the $600 MSDN subscription is well short of what is included in a TechNet subscription.

      1. Brian Rampling

        Its an atrocious Idea and another Own Goal for Microsoft , why don’t they limit usage for Technet to MS Certified people, as a consultant u rely on this for virtual environments to test solutions.

        Time limited software and not all flavours offered is a terrible alternative
        If they make it online download only , no media people would accept that

        Microsoft u really are alienating your home crowd !

Leave a Reply