Am I the only one not broken up over the end of TechNet subscriptions?

Many IT pros are upset with Microsoft's decision to end popular TechNet subscriptions, but not everyone is complaining.

IT pros have been in an uproar since Microsoft announced in July that it would end TechNet subscriptions. It's no wonder, because many IT pros use that service to learn how to use and support Microsoft products. While I understand the initial shock at the announcement, perhaps it's time to step back for a moment and take a look at the situation. I view this change as good for the IT pro, not harmful.

Before you send your email scolding me, understand that I too feel the impact of losing TechNet. I am a TechNet Magazine contributor, and it appears the magazine has ended along with the subscription service. I should be one of the people leading the charge to flood Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's email box with complaints, but I'm not. Here's why:

The main complaint IT pros have is that they use TechNet to learn about Microsoft products such as Exchange and SharePoint. There's no doubt that TechNet subscriptions have been a valuable educational resource for many IT pros. However, as Microsoft is ending the paid subscription, it is increasing the use of free evaluation copies. I like free. While the evaluation software has been around a long time, many IT pros have continued to pay for TechNet subscriptions. Personally, I never use my TechNet subscription, which I get free as a Microsoft Certified Trainer. Instead, I use evaluation copies to learn about Microsoft's products. I don't need a licensed copy of the software in order to build VMs for a learning environment. It's not difficult to automate building a test environment if you really need it longer than the 180 days for the evaluation. In fact, it's often easier to use Windows Azure and spin up a fully configured environment for testing. If you do have a complicated lab environment that must be persistent and won't time-out, then you should be purchasing software licenses anyway.

If you really need the licenses and resources of TechNet, you still have another alternative: Purchase a Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscription. Yes, MSDN is much more expensive than TechNet, but there is additional value, even if you don't currently see or need that value. As someone who uses PowerShell to automate and manage most of my tasks, I have gradually become more of a developer. The resources included with MSDN, including Visual Studio, have become more important to me in performing my job. If you haven't looked at MSDN in a while, check it out. Yes, it's aimed at the developer, but many IT pros are finding those resources are necessary to the automation and management of their environments (think DevOps). I consider my purchase of the MSDN subscription as an investment in my career. It broadens my skill set and makes me more valuable to my company. For me, it's a small price to pay for my career advancement.

Microsoft also announced it is expanding its free training for IT pros through the Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA). MVA may not be the perfect training solution for all IT pros, but neither was TechNet. MVA provides great information on products from experienced experts. IT pros can accelerate their learning by combining MVA with the free software evaluations. If MVA is not the complete training answer for your needs, then you can always attend full training classes from a Microsoft partner. With all of these new options, I just don't understand the outrage over the end of a paid service that really didn't provide anything more than a few free software licenses.

Is the end of TechNet subscriptions a bad move for Microsoft? Who knows, but I don't think it's going to seriously harm and create havoc for IT pros. Microsoft is providing plenty of options -- better ones, in my view -- as it spins down the subscription service.

Many of my friends and peers are fighting hard to keep TechNet, and while I respect their views and the fight they are leading, I disagree. Take a moment and examine how the end of TechNet subscriptions actually affects you, considering all the other options. Instead of inflaming the situation, I hope I have helped some IT pros find a useful way forward. While you may not agree with me, let's keep the discussion going and find solutions that will help all of us be more successful.

This was last published in August 2013

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Should Microsoft reinstate TechNet subscriptions?
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Access to limited numbers of copies of Microsoft software allow us to use it over a longer period to evaluate long term issues and usage in practice rather than in a lab environment.

"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice; in practice, there is...!"
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Must be nice to be in the Microsoft-paid and -affiliated minority :)
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Not everyone is a large shop that has the resources to run with MSDN subscriptions; TechNet provided a cost-friendly way for me to be able to plan growth of my customers that I can no longer afford to do. Without it, I must look at alternatives, and Microsoft is unlikely to feature for me or my customers.
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We are a small MSP working for small companies. TechNet allowed us access to test and recommend MS products. We have always believed strongly in anti-piracy laws. It seems a shame that some bad apples ruin it for all.
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I find it strange (weird?) that it seems that only people really close to MS employees say the same things about the end of # Technet.

yes, redeployed VMs is not so difficult but the Hyper-V host and then theinfra tools below aren't licensed? otherwise it must also be reinstalled every 180 days?

I can understand that being close to MS can have the same vision they have ...
however, I'm pretty sure you understand all those who still need technet at least to help them move to the cloud.

But I understand that you can not help but support the vision of MS, except that taking the risk of not being in their good graces anymore...
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To be completely honest, it seems that MS is more interested in people who do not really like it than by people who really care.

I'm with MS when they deploy Windows 8.0 but changes in Windows 8.1 does not look very good (the search party, for example), it is the same for TechNet / MSDN.

In the past, I had two accounts, one for TechNet, and MSDN with the other but I have ever used the TechNet part.

Who cares Visual Studio when you do not develop? who cares free products when you need to demonstrate that the old products (none available from free resources) are compatible with the new ones?

Who cares azure when our customers do not want anything other than the "private cloud"?

If all companies in America want to go to the cloud (seriously?) This is not the same everywhere.

I'm not sure, but do you know that MS has fans in many countries? who fear NSA, Prism, etc. .. ?
How to convince them to go to the cloud with MS products?

And here is the point that you missed. Maybe people will go to the cloud (Perhaps the important word here;) ), but if that is the case, will they do with MS? or other products (redhat, Citrix, VMware, etc. ..)?

If you really want people to go to the cloud MS, let them take the train if you want to use a TGV (yes I'm french;) ) no one can board without station on the way ...

Thus, between Technet and MSDN, do not forget the stations ... please :)
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Everytime you install and finally get around to some of the new features the exal times out
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It has been a beneficial source of information to me as a school finance administrator trying to understand all those tech things out there.
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From what I have read in this article, or it is someone who is clearly NOT an IT Pro, or should not pay for his MSDN subscription.
Eval software is fine, if you are only testing small parts of the application. Azure is fine for the supported parts (for example, desktop deployment using MDT an SCCM from within Azure... anyone?, or building private cloud labs having access to physical servers, failover clusters, using non-Microsoft tools on top for backup, antivirus impact,... anyone?)
TechNet is way more than just a few free licenses. It's about having the necessary resources to rebuild your labs over and over again. Using the features we need, using the lab builds we require. And hoping we don't have to redo all of this every 3-6 months. Yes, as MCT I am aware of semi-automating my course lab installs using PowerShell, but it is far far away from building that custom POC environment that will answer the 4 specific questions my customer has asked me during coaching/training.
I also don't see the link with MVA here. MVA is a training platform, where you can read slidedecks, watch recorded sessions/demos and go through some manuals, sometimes. This has nothing to do with having access to lab environments. That said, I love MVA for what it is, but it has no relation to the TechNet subscription be taken away.
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Seeing that you work for Interface Technical Training (a Microsoft Gold Learning Partner) it's pretty disingenuous of you to suggest purchasing an MSDN subscription when you already have access to all the (non-eval) software already with your partner benefits and you're not losing anything in the process. Don't you think?

Come back when you're an independent and lose access to your TechNet software bits. Then you can write your article with some true integrity.

Until then, your article is BS.
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Making scripts is a waste of time. Please share your inspiring knowledge about automating deployments in BornToLearn groups. Make a JumpStart "Using Trial Versions for the losers". Contribute real things to the real community, not the stupid texts like this. Otherwise, shut up, please.
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The IT world has changed somewhat and the IT pro needs to change with it. A friend of mine was building a test-lab and asked me for a copy of exchange 2010. I sent him a link to a free evaluation copy. He replied, ha ha but where's the 'real one'! I said the eval would last 120 days, I doubt his lab would come close to that.
He eventually got the point. You don't need fully licensed software to learn, just fully-functional software.

The rest of the IT world needs to get this point also.
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TechNet is essential for MCTs to keep up with technology
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Ballmer says the check is in the post...enjoy the blood money
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I think you are nuts ! as an MCT I NEED MY TechNet subscription.

When I create my courseware I want my VMs to work LONGER than 180 days, without needing any rearming or creating an automated setup...

I am happy the way it is, and I hate to loose it. If Microsoft would give us an MSDN subscription, that would resolve the issue, but at the end I will HAVE TO BUY ONE...

I am an independent trainer and I'm already paying A LOT for plenty of stuff...
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or they should lower the price of MSDN...
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for the person asking Jason to contribute something ... here you go ... his PowerShell session (the second one should be posted soon). http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/getting-started-with-powershell-3-0-jump-start#fbid=hTTfs39ljQr
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Living in a country where phone lines are not replaced when stolen...and bandwidth is slow and expensive, The cloud is not viable. MSDN costs more than a months salary..and if you train different technologies and work with custom integrations - by the time you get back to an image to work with it- you cannot install service packs as it is 180 day trial and you need to start over... I do not work with Windows (an install and done) - Integrations and customizations have a lot more time required. I do custom training around customer projects and help architect those projects. I am sad as it was a good way of testing and educational. Images I use to keep my demos for more than a year. To show a client all the way from a LOB app - ssis, BizTalk, sharepoint, ssas, ssrs and crm in one demo -- imagine rebuilding this demo every three months.
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Please take my deepest apologies for the post below. I was wrong, and I should not say that Jason not contributing at all. God bless Microsoft and every person related to their business.
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I remember going on an assignment to present a training course, and when I got there the client had installed the classroom VMs with eval copies of Windows. When we booted the VMs they did not come up properly and all wanted to be activated. They had been manually installed two days before. Eval schmeval, for anything remotely important like a customer presentation I prefer to have something that does not randomly blow up like that.
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"For me, [my purchase of the MSDN subscription] is a small price to pay for my career advancement."
Good for you. The MSDN option that includes all the backend servers starts at SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS with renewals at 2500. Good for you that this is a "small price" to pay. That, or you just don't need the backend server bits much, and you disregard the fact that many others do NOT need Visual Studio. Sorry for the tone, but I find it really irksome that you are so casual about six thousand dollars.
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While you can automate the basic OS install, other bits and pieces, e.g. 3rd-party applications, are not as easy or even possible. Either way, saying that "yeah but you can automate that" is saying "yeah, all you need to do is learn a whole new skill set". If my skills are in XYZ, I don't want to learn Powershell Automation *in addition* to XYZ just to be able to still run my test labs. Saying that people need to get with the program sounds a bit weird considering that it is coming from a Powershell Pro - you already do black belt Powershell.
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I will not repeat what has already been said and is otherwise obvious: MCT need their technet subscription. Defending otherwise is something I really can't understand.
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Many IT Pros use TechNet to learn about a Microsoft product before recommending it in their organization.
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MS should reinstate the TN sub
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Its a way for microsoft to generate more revenue. A few free licenses is the least Microsoft can offer seeing a the IT Pros are using these products in the end to put more money in Microsofts pockets essentially free marketing for Microsoft.
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New administrators rely heavily on knowledge from TechNet and other Microsoft sites.
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Technet provides a valuable resource for IT professionals that work with Microsoft products to gain an understanding of the products. It allows an IT professional to setup a lab environment that can be used to simulate the customer environment (especially with older products) to understand the implications of upgrades to the current versions of Microsoft products.
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Agree with the majority of others here - sometimes spinning up VMs with the 180 day limit can be a pain.. especially if you are testing in-place upgrade / migration scenarios.

Yes I am aware that there are various Hydration Kits (MS Partner and elsewhere) that let you spin up VMs from eval (or real source media such as TN, MSDN, VL, etc) and the Virtual Academy, but this can take ages, particularly if you are prototyping a semi-complex environment e.g. SC 2012 which needs DCs, SQL, SCCM, IIS etc etc.

Or if you are a partner (or want to become one yourself) the Microsoft Access Pack is also a potential alternative - but not as easy to obtain

Cheers
R
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I am an MSDN Subscriber so it does not directly affect me. But I do see it as a great asset for a shop to be able to setup a test environment to test client issues. Perhaps the process just needs to be revamped versus shelved.
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It has been valuable for learning... why to take that away..
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Eval copies will suffice if need be, but having your own keys and license is always superior than asking "daddy" to borrow the "car".
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We need the TechNet subscription to learn by our self the products and to demo this products to our customers.
The cancelation is a huge mistake.
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Why keep it when the alternatives fill the gap.
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Why take it away?
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Please reinstate the TechNet subscriptions. I was fortunate to have TechNet as a source of cutting edge articles and information while completing my M.A. in Information Technology Management at Webster University. I find TechNet just as valuable as I am now completing my M.A. in Procurement and Acquisition with Webster University. Please reinstate the TechNet subscriptions.
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it is easy to use
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I'm not close to MS. I'm just a professional IT guy that finds the whining funny because the software is free. If you need it longer than 180 days, then you should buy a license. To hard to understand?
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