Microsoft Discontinues TechNet Subscriptions

Microsoft announced today that it is discontinuing TechNet subscriptions. You can buy or renew subscriptions through August 31, and you have until September 30 to activate those subscriptions. After that, they are no more. Why retire the service? Microsoft says the following in the FAQ;

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.

Microsoft will focus on growing and improving our free offerings for IT professionals, 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.

Check out the Microsoft TechNet Subscriptions page and the FAQ for more info. Kevin Remde also posted on his blog. Kevin mentions that current subscribers are being notified via email.

Ed Bott has a good analysis (as always) of the move and what may be driving the decision. Check out his ZDNet post.

The TechNet web site maps out the TechNet subscription benefits with links to other sources:

Software Evaluation
  • TechNet Evaluation Center: Free evaluation software with no feature limits, available for 30-180 days.
  • TechNet Virtual Labs: Free online testing environments, designed to be completed in 90 minutes or less, without the need to install evaluation bits locally.
  • MSDN Subscriptions: Paid offerings providing access to evaluation software for the duration of the subscription.
  • Microsoft Virtual Academy: Over 200 free, expert-led technical training courses across more than 15 Microsoft technologies.
  • TechNet Forums: Ask technical questions and receive responses from members of the community for free.
  • TechNet Support: Resources for IT professionals, including knowledge base articles, forums, and links to Microsoft partner support.
  • Microsoft Support: Access how-to articles, one-click diagnosis & repair for many issues, and step-by-step self-help instructions.
  • Microsoft Services: Assistance with deploying IT solutions, aligning business and IT strategy, support for IT systems, and more.

Some important things to note:

  • The TechNet site is not affected by this change. Only the subscriptions are being discontinued.
  • Priority support in the TechNet Forums will no longer be available.
  • Even though sales and renewals end on August 31, you may continue to use your benefits until your subscription ends.

I actually didn’t use my NFR subscription from last year’s TechNet very much, so I don’t see this as being a big impact on me personally. I have an MSDN Ultimate subscription thanks to the discounted pricing we get as an academic customer.