TechNet Program Revival Petition Growing in Support
More than 7,000 have signed a petition requesting that Microsoft restore its TechNet program for IT professionals.
The petition, posted at Change.org here, asks Microsoft to "continue TechNet or create an affordable alternative to MSDN subscriptions." On Monday, petition organizers were still seeking about 50 signatures before sending it off to Redmond.
Microsoft announced earlier this month that it will stop taking TechNet subscription requests after Aug. 1, 2013. At best, some subscribers will get a one-time chance to renew, but the program is ending. Microsoft's alternative suggestion for IT pros is that they can purchase an MSDN subscription, or IT pros can use the free resources described at this page. However, the free resources limit software use to short periods of time, ranging from 30 to 180 days, after which the software would have to be reinstalled to continue a trial.
IT pros opting for an MSDN subscription will face higher prices. MSDN subscriptions cost $699 to $13,299 per year compared with $199 to $599 per year for TechNet subscriptions.
A few other ideas have been floated outside of Microsoft's suggestions. Ed Bott writing at ZDNet offers a checklist of five steps to take before the end of August, with ideas such as claiming product keys and tapping the Office 365 benefits that are included in TechNet subscriptions. He interviewed the Change.org petitioners, and gathered some Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) comments, on why Microsoft should reconsider its decision to end the TechNet program.
Hoarding product keys likely won't help IT pros continue to use the software when their TechNet subscription expires. An InfoWorld article pointed out that Microsoft changed its TechNet subscription agreement last year to include more definitive language that precludes perpetual license use. For instance, the revised agreement now states that "when your subscription concludes, you will no longer have access to the software or any associated benefits and must discontinue your use of the software."
Another idea, offered by Paul Thurrott of Winsupersite.com, is to become a Microsoft partner and pay for Microsoft Action Pack Subscriptions (MAPS), which include a bundle of test software. The Action Packs are offered in two forms costing $329 per year (Solution Provider) or $429 per year (Development and Design). However, Microsoft is planning later this year to replace these two MAPS with "one universal subscription with resources and benefits for all partners emphasizing Microsoft Cloud Services and serving small and mid-market customers," according to its July 2013 "Microsoft Partner Network Disclosure Guide" (PDF).
It's not clear what the price will be for the new MAPS, but they will provide "licenses to support a 10-person organization" using either Microsoft's cloud services or on-premises software. The new MAPs also will include technical support, access to training materials and developer tools, among other perks.
A quick overview of the various options available when joining the Microsoft Partner Network can be found in this Redmond Channel Partner article. Microsoft also announced various partner program updates this month at its Worldwide Partner Conference, which are described here.
Microsoft's Most Valuable Professionals, who are honored by Microsoft for their contributions in the field, get TechNet or MSDN subscriptions for free. However, that doesn't mean they aren't upset about the effects on IT pros as Microsoft ends its TechNet program. For instance, MVP Aidan Finn suggested that he would never have become an MVP in the first place without a TechNet subscription. MVP Marco Shaw hinted that he might look into open source alternatives to Microsoft software. He recommended figuring out a way to reinstall software in an automated fashion as a way of coping with the truncated 180-day free trial periods.
Another idea, floated by the petitioners, is that Microsoft could reverse course on killing the TechNet program, given enough persuasion. After all, Microsoft did respond to customer complaints about the lack of a Start button in Windows 8. Maybe so, although Microsoft's long FAQ on the topic is written with the thoroughness of lawyers -- a likely grim sign that the company won't budge.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.