back to article Microsoft's murder most foul: TechNet is dead

The end of TechNet Subscriptions is upon us. Let's take a moment to digest this, shall we? TechNet subscriptions were a cheap way to get access to virtually the entire Microsoft library of software for the purposes of building and maintaining a testlab environment. The cost ranged from $200 to $600 a year, and when combined …


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  1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Now is the time?

    before we move from "customer" to "hostage."

    This is just the latter stage of boiling a frog, it started with XP's "product activation" and the same thing moved to all of their products.

    The move towards "higher margins" via cloud-based subscription lock-in, the means of screwing more out of its customers is no real surprise, as they can see the desktop market and OEM fees under serious pressure now, added to the lack of any real incentive for upgrades. Machines are fast enough for most user's needs, and other than fixing dumb security holes, what is there *new* in most OS to justify the pain and cost of migration?

    This sort of move is not going to help MS in the long run, but I can't really say I care much.

    <= Tux! Not perfect, but my choice because at least I have the freedom to use it as I please, and to modify and improve it should I have the ability or time to do so.

    1. Wade Burchette

      Re: Now is the time?

      Once again, Microsoft proves they are run by an idiot. Just when I think Microsoft couldn't get any dumber, they prove me wrong. When you make it more expensive to use your products, people will either pirate or move on. I don't plan on pirating, I plan on protesting and moving on.

      TechNet allowed me to get the disc for most Microsoft products without having to buy each individual product. You don't know how valuable a service that is. And now they are taking that away. TechNet allowed me to learn Microsoft products which, in turn, led me to recommend those products because I know how to use them and thus can help you use them. Now ...

      I can promise you this: I am going to start recommending LibreOffice for all but a few people. Microsoft is screwing the golden goose. I can test LibreOffice for free, soon I won't be able to Microsoft Office for free. And that means I won't be recommending Office. There ain't nobody immune to repeat blunders. Sooner, not later, such stupidity will catch up Microsoft.

      I do plan on sending Microsoft a polite email telling them how stupid this is. Considering how little Microsoft listens of late, I doubt it will do any good.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Now is the time? @Wade

        The issue from my perspective isn't so much about Office, but about MS's catalogue of Enterprise products that don't get so much press, where, as Trevor alludes to, setting up a realistic environment to support a meaningful evaluation scenario as permitted under TechNet Ts&Cs, takes time.

        Also the 30~180 day licences prevent you from building reference components, for example I have a couple of VM's that implement a PKI certificate service on AD, that only get pulled out when I'm playing around with WiFi kit to confirm all will play nicely.

      2. Mark 65

        Re: Now is the time?

        If anything they should be lessening the cost of these things in order to get people on board - that's how you get your market share, encourage usage amongst the dev/IT crowd by allowing them to setup and play with all manner of configs that can be persisted and re-used. Just think, you setup some infrastructure, start coding an app that you want to sell or make publicly available and sooner or later that's going to result in sales. This is dumb. Oracle got its market through ability but retained it largely through lock-in. You can tell its desperation to stop its decline through purchases like Sun which went oh-so-well. If that's the route MS wants to take then so be it, but it isn't a smart move.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Now is the time?

        "When you make it more expensive to use your products, people will either pirate or move on"

        Erm, well they are not making it more expense to USE the products. They are making it necessary to buy licenses for LONG TERM 'TESTING'. You will get 90 days for free.

        And have you tried pirating Windows 8 or Server 2012? It's pretty much impossible now with the trusted boot level security and activation checks. And best you have to re-activate it every 60 days. There are no more OEM BIOS keys. Every key is now tied to the individual hardware.

        As to 'move on' - there are no cheaper options for the vast majority of Microsoft's products unless your time is free, or you are happy with a vastly inferior solution....

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Now is the time?

          Hey, Anonymous Coward, um...

          ...yeah, I'm okay with a vastly inferior solution. Let me try to put this bluntly: I can run my business of Windows XP and Office 2003. I sure as shit can run it off Linux.

          Is Microsoft's software superior in many respects to what Open Source has to offer? Yes. Does that matter any more? No. I don't need to be able to build a fucking hosted Azure solution to run a business. I'm fine with stuff that's 5-10 years behind the curve.

          You know when we hit 2005 and CPU speed just stopped mattering? Well guess what: we've hit that with OSes and productivity suites too. The Enterprise world can careen ahead needing to be up-to-date simply because everyone else is up-to-date.

          I'm fucking done with it. Seems like more than a few'll join me.

          1. I think so I am?

            Re: Now is the time?

            hear hear

        2. John Sanders

          Re: Now is the time?

          """And have you tried pirating Windows 8 or Server 2012? It's pretty much impossible now with the trusted boot level security and activation checks."""


          No it is not, it is even easier than before.

          The question is what is the point to INSIST on using Windows, it is overly complex and requires way too many servers to do anything. For example each time Microsoft produces a new version of Exchange it needs more and more servers.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Now is the time?

          Don't think Server 2012 has a problem. (Can use SLIC 2.2 to activate it just like Windows 7).

          UEFI bioses are slightly more difficult to patch permanently but a patch that is active until you reflash the bios is trivially easy to do.

          Think there are less SLIC2.2 bins (Only two last time I looked).

          Occasionally there are things you can do to get free Dreamspark 2012 keys. (Legitimately acquired by joining online courses in poor countries). Shouldn't be using those sort of tricks for a business though.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Now is the time?

        "I am going to start recommending LibreOffice "

        Good luck with that in the real world. It might suit some home users, but it is laughable inadequate in the enterprise.

        " I can test LibreOffice for free, soon I won't be able to Microsoft Office for free"

        Not true - you will still be able to evaluate Office for free:

        If you havn't seen Office 2013 yet, it's worth the download just to see the amazing Microsoft streaming installer technology. Launch it without Office installed, and it will be a running application in about a minute while the application continues to install in the background...

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Now is the time?

          Question - and a serious one - that I think needs answering: what exactly does Office 2013 offer me that LibreOffice doesn't? I mean, besides FUD?

          They say everyone only uses 20 features of Office, but everyone uses a different 20 features. I cannot believe for a moment that LibreOffice has all of the features of Office, but I am willing to bet that it has the "20 features" that 80% of the productivity-suite using people of this world want.

          LibreOffice doesn't have to be better than Office 2013. It doesn't even have to be "as good." It just has to be "good enough."

          1. a cynic writes...

            Re: Now is the time?

            "...what exactly does Office 2013 offer me that LibreOffice doesn't?"


            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: Now is the time?

              Yep; I used to think that way. Then I realised someone made Thunderbird stock sucking. As soon as I grokked that addons worked the same as Firefox I was set. Is it "as good in all ways" as Outlook? No. Is it "good enough" not that Microsoft is hellbent on getting rid of shared calendars and public folders as Outlook items? Yes.

              1. a cynic writes...

                Re: Now is the time?

                As it stands, if I replaced Office with LibreOffice I would get away with minimal grumbling but if I switched them from Outlook to Thunderbird I'd have a user revolt. In the future, as more of them use other endpoints, that may change.

                For me though, our membership & accounts system is a bigger hurdle. There are viable alternatives (CiviCRM for one) but until I reach a point where I can justify the switching cost we're stuck with it.

              2. Stevie

                Re: Now is the time? [@ Trevor_Pott

                Well, my copy keeps insisting on bottom quoting which is annoying beyond reason since world+dog+dog's friends use top quoting. It fucks up e-mail chains no end, and cannot be changed without hacking into configuration files. There should be a simple way to change this beyond stupid behaviour on the user interface, but I suspect someone's agenda is getting in the way.

                (Nothing people complain about with top-quoting is fixed by bottom quoting either. Stupidly stupid to Carve It In Stone).

                Also, the default mode is to sort all mailslots (aka folders) with the newest entries at the bottom. Another fucktard decision. Every time the software is installed or upgraded seriously, it reverts to this annoying and unhelpful behaviour. An extension of "bottom quoting is best" thinking, no doubt, but at least it can be changed. One folder at a time.

                1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                  Re: Now is the time? [@ Trevor_Pott

                  @Stevie: we set up preferences we liked (those that were the most Outlook-like) and simply pushed them out with Puppet and/or logon scripts to set up customer systems. Works a treat!

                2. Tom 13

                  Re: Now is the time? [@ Trevor_Pott

                  Sound to me like a user issue, not a Thunderbird one.

                  I easily configured mine for top quoting with my signature under the reply. All my mail comes into a single folder from which I sort it into storage folders. So on the rare occasion of a completely new install, a single click fixes the date order. Given that I frequently opt to sort on other fields this really isn't an issue. And none of my changes has ever been reconfigured on upgrade. I can't say the same thing for all the MS updates I've done, although they are much improved on that point.

                  I suspect that if I could be arsed to look through the documentation I could write a script to deploy it with a different set of defaults, but it's never been sufficiently troublesome to spend the time.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Now is the time?

              "...what exactly does Office 2013 offer me that LibreOffice doesn't?"


              That may change very shortly, actually. The single thing that Outlook offers is integration - people LIVE in Outlook (and build up ginormous mailboxes :( ).

              Apple thoroughly missed a chance there, because if they had been able to offer an Outlook replacement that actually talked Open Standards like almost everything else OSX does it would have chewed up a serious chunk of Microsoft's base, but no, they had to create separate and frankly idiotic looking applications which are anything but integrated (try changing a birthday, for example).

              1. Sandra Greer
                Thumb Up

                Not Outlook

                I am retired now, but at my last job, my boss migrated our Outlook to a Google Mail service, which seems to do a lot for us, and we no longer need an Exchange server -- all good.

                1. Tom 13

                  Re: we no longer need an Exchange server -- all good.

                  The Microsoft Exchange-Outlook pairing of products was the only one I ever liked, circa 2003. It fully integrated Mail, Calendar, faxing and voicemail for our company. Even today GMail can't touch it. We've recently moved our government organization from an ancient unix system to GMail. Yes, it solved the mail "storage" issue, but the calendaring issues are horrible even compared to the inferior Oracle system we had been using.

                  If MS solved the problem of people using mail as their primary document storage mechanism, even the problem of "ginourmous sized" mailboxes would go away.

                  That said, it sounds like MS has already started sabotaging that product pairing.

            3. Euripides Pants

              Re: Now is the time?

              ""...what exactly does Office 2013 offer me that LibreOffice doesn't?"


              You say that like it's a Good Thing....

              1. a cynic writes...

                Re: Now is the time?

                Well it's a thing certainly...

            4. JEDIDIAH

              Re: Now is the time?

              >>"...what exactly does Office 2013 offer me that LibreOffice doesn't?"


              > Outlook.

              You're back to the same 80% problem. 80% of the users really don't have to care about Outlook.

              It's mainly persistent FUD that keeps Microsoft products alive.

              Helping to destroy this perception has been one of the nice side effect of the rise of tablets.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Now is the time?

            Hah hah, it offers a userbase of more than 7 people globally.......

          3. Mark 65

            Re: Now is the time?

            "Question - and a serious one - that I think needs answering: what exactly does Office 2013 offer me that LibreOffice doesn't? I mean, besides FUD?"

            Ooo ooo ooo, I know - probably another undocumented fucking file structure with a few pointless inclusions to make it incompatible with everything on the planet bar the latest Office version. Given the 365 creation it ain't hard to see where this is headed for corporates. Slow bleed like a cut that just won't heal.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Now is the time?

          If you havn't seen Office 2013 yet, it's worth the download just to see the amazing Microsoft streaming installer technology.

          Yup. Seen it. Never seen a Microsoft tool so thoroughly butcher a stable system.

          Oh, and we had an Office Mac we tried Office 365 on. Having seen the alternative NOT work, the girl that uses it is now very happy with LibreOffice. We only ever use the one copy of Office to clean up output that goes to clients in crapX format, but as most of our output is PDF it seems we've been given one more argument to move to Macs completely (software licensing costs is another argument). And some Linux boxes - seems a sensible way to recycle the desktops.

          Having said that, we're a small shop. It's probably quite hard to change for an Enterprise and risk getting efficient.. :)

        3. Stevie

          Re: Now is the time? [@ AC 8:08]

          "Good luck with that in the real world. It might suit some home users, but it is laughable inadequate in the enterprise."

          That was true three years ago (yesyesyes when it was OpenOffice). Not so now. Most small enterprise functions can be accommodated nicely inside OO/OL. If you care to troll through the archives you'll find I've always been pretty demanding with this software, and dismissive of it when it fell short.

          The database still needs work to be as easy and flexible as Access is (stop screaming everyone. Not everyone needs a poly-phase commit clustered database with point-of-failure journaling FFS) but the spreadsheet is a good match for excel (except for the stupid decision to make the user learn different keyboard habits than everyone else +dog has been using since Visicalc) and the word processor is easily capable of most moderately complex tasks. The integration between the pieces has been tightened considerably and as a result the software is ready for most small businesses prime time as is.

          "If you havn't seen Office 2013 yet, it's worth the download just to see the amazing Microsoft streaming installer technology. "

          This isn't germane to the discussion. Enterprises are used to having to wait a few minutes for an install to be done, and it's a one-shot deal anyway.

        4. Belardi

          Re: Now is the time?

          "Launch it without Office installed, and it will be a running application in about a minute while the application continues to install in the background..."

          Who gives a shit?

          Anyone that much of a hurry to start writing a letter? Hell, install LinuxMint in 15 mins and it includes LibreOffice pre-installed. Windows8, Office 2013, XBO can suck a dead horse.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Now is the time?

          If you havn't seen Office 2013 yet, it's worth the download just to see the amazing Microsoft streaming installer technology.

          Unless it's broken. In which case it is one hell of a pain to fix. Just look at all the Microsoft fans telling Redmond that they should remove that "embarrassing pile of crap" until it's actually reasonably reliable.

          2 weeks ago I preferred MS Office over the alternatives. Couple of support cases with MSO2013 and I now recommend corporates go elsewhere for their office needs. 2013 just isn't ready for the desktop, and may not be for a long time. It will cost them too much in lost time if they put that pre-alpha program on their systems.

        6. JEDIDIAH

          Re: Now is the time?

          >> "I am going to start recommending LibreOffice "


          > Good luck with that in the real world. It might suit some home users, but it is laughable inadequate in the enterprise.

          I have been a successful stealth OpenOffice user in some of the largest corporations on this planet.

          The necessity of any particular brand of spreadsheet or word processor has always been grossly overinflated.

      5. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Re: Now is the time?

        "TechNet allowed me to get the disc for most Microsoft products without having to buy each individual product. You don't know how valuable a service that is."

        It is quite easy to know the cost of something, but value is mostly guesstimated. Which does not fly well with beancounters.

        Now, however, a proper test shall be done. Offending cost is eliminated, corresponding value drop becomes measurable, and some completely wrong conclusions can be drawn.

      6. Tom 13

        Re: You don't know how valuable a service that is.

        Actually, they do - that's why they are replacing it with a more expensive option.

        But they've miscalculated on your ability to pay for it.

    2. Goat Jam

      Re: Now is the time?

      "This is just the latter stage of boiling a frog, it started with XP's "product activation" and the same thing moved to all of their products."

      Indeed. This is exactly why I shifted my career focus way back in 2002. Up to that point Linux was just some weird OS that I knew nothing about.

      Then XP arrived. I persisted with Win2K for a while but then one day, sometime in 2003 I think it was, I downloaded Redhat 7 and within 12 months I was virtually Windows free. I could see back then where that product activation malarkey was leading to and I did not like it one bit.

  2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Icon shift/shaft?

    When, and more importantly, why did the icon move from the left to top-right of the comments?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Icon shift/shaft?

      It's the creeping arabisation of the whole of the UK. They WANT you to read from right to left!!

      Get me the BNP on the phone!!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Icon shift/shaft?

      Change for the sake of it.

      "Ooo now, let's see. We have to change something. That silly billy icon has been on the left for sooo long it's boring, darling."

      "Yes, let's put it....................there."

      "No, I want it there."

      "I said it first, it's going there."

      "OK but only if we then move it to the middle bottom, where I wanted it, next week."

      "Next week? We can't leave something unchanged for so long!"

      "Anyway sweetie, what about implementing my improvement of reversing the text and having it change colour at random."

      "Ooooo, you're so "last year" darling."

    3. Stevie

      Re: Icon shift/shaft?

      "When, and more importantly, why did the icon move from the left to top-right of the comments?"

      To prepare the way for The Register Ribbon of course.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        "Register Ribbon"

        Yes. The staff would be in ribbons by the time I was done with them, were that to be introduced...

  3. Efros

    My subscription for this year became active on the 30th of June. Bar Stewards.

    1. Graham 24

      And it will work for one year - you'll get everything you paid for. TechNet isn't closing per se on 31 August - Microsoft just won't be selling any new subscriptions from that date.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      IF you reside in the UK, you have 14 days to cancel a service/contract... From the day that service starts, not when you purchase it.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The Distance Selling stuff is for business to consumer transactions only though isn't it? (Correction welcome)

          Most Technet sales would be to businesses wouldn't they? Businesses are supposed to have a clue before purchasing stuff, and therefore don't need so much legislation to protect them.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            "Most Technet sales would be to businesses wouldn't they? "

            You'd be wrong. Which is sort of why everyone is so up in arms.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              ""Most Technet sales would be to businesses wouldn't they? "

              You'd be wrong. Which is sort of why everyone is so up in arms."

              Yes and no.

              A one man contractor/consultant buying a tool for business purposes does not, afaik, get the benefit of consumer protection laws because it is not a consumer transaction. IANAL, seek professional advice.

              On a more general point, I do see why so many folk are up in arms. But with the greatest respect, the Certified Microsoft Dependent ecosystem should have seen this coming before now - there have been plenty of warning signs.

              And on a more personal note: Trevor, take a holiday, Real Soon Now. You'll feel better for it, even if the bank manager won't. And your articles will hopefully continue to be as good as we've grown to expect; you're one of the few remaining reasons I bother with this site. You're obviously pretty peeved at the moment, understandably. But I really like the idea of you writing about you getting over your MS addiction, whether you do it here (which might be tricky for the advertising department) or elsewhere.

              Normally I wouldn't stoop so low as to say this, but rules are to be broken:

              "Keep calm and carry on.. migrating off MS".

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                A) I was referring to systems administrators who work for companies too poor or too cheap to pay for things like technet, training and so forth. There are millions of them around the world and this is a knife in their belly. Those men and women are my brethren and sistren. Until only just recently I was one of them; no consulting company of my own, no budget beyond asking myself "do I buy a steak or put a few more dollars into the pot for the tools I need to do my job."

                Apologists can condescend them all you want, or suggest that their employers should pay but reality doesn't comply whit the fantasies of those who set licensing policies. This is a direct attack on people like me; it is Microsoft saying that those who have spent their careers and lives doing what I have done are irrelevant, inconvenient, and above all guilty unless proven innocent.

                I'll not stand idly by whilst one of the only groups of people in this world I can readily identify with is maligned, marginalized and shamed.

                B) For your information, this article was written during the only weekend off I've taken in a year. It was the only weekend I've had to see my wife in two months. She's on location on an acting job and I won't get to see her for at least another two months. So I was on vacation. Some things are more important than my own personal amusement.

                C) I don't have an MS addiction. I've been using Red Hat since late 1994 and have had periods of only a few months since 1995 when I wasn't running a network somewhere consisting of Red Hat, Apple and Microsoft.

                Technology is technology, regardless of the purveyor. I disconnect my feelings regarding business practices from my respect for the technology produced. Microsoft makes good tech. They make shitty people.

                Your understanding of the situation - and why so many are upset here - is at best incomplete at worst flat out wrong. What's more, hiding behind legalities like "consumer protection laws" as a means of trivializing the challenges this move has introduced into the lives of so many is simply offensive. It's easy to blithely demand people pay more, change the world around them to be more like you desire or simply write them off when they lack the power, authority or money to make others choose differently.

                It is a different thing entirely to live in that world for decades. Perhaps you should. You might learn a thing or two about compassion and why the intersection of business and ethics needs be a primary concern not something we can allow to be overshadowed by the trumpets and drums of quarterly profits.

                There is nobody in this industry you can trust. If sycophants of any flavour are your desire then bang on the desk until Eadon is given a forth-covered Pengiunskin soapbox and go read Ed Bott for a dose of truly singular Redmondian butt snorkling.

                Me, I'll be as objective as I can and I"ll review any technology that crosses my path or interests me. My focus however, will always be on the SME. Someone has to, because our entire industry is focused on "being on message" where "being on message" means "captivating the enterprise buyer."

                So try to understand my full meaning when I say that SME sysadmins are my fucking tribe and I will defend them to the bitter end. Even if all I can do in their defence is loose words upon the ether.

                1. Tom 13

                  Re: but reality doesn't comply with the fantasies of those who set licensing policies.

                  Here, here!

                  I don't personally operate at the SME contractor level anymore, but was a low level tech for one for a number of years. Even from the money grubbing perspective this decision doesn't make sense. Yes it might net them a few bucks over the very short term, but somewhere between a year and three out it has to hit them hard. You've pointed out real problems for businesses trying to build test environments. Another issue is that MS, more than any else out there, depends on "amateurs" who can't afford to pay extortionate training rates spending time working with the software to work up to "professional" levels and then delivering that service.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm really struggling to see their rationale for this.

    As you say, Trevor, without us - the consultants, engineers and sysadmins, pushing their products and buying into their new technology (whatever your opinion on how much or little is 'new') then MS lose their ground troops.

    Like many of my colleagues, I've long since passed the point where a course provided by a big player is a perk of the job and is a pain in the backside that eats into my valuable working time. That means the only way I can keep properly up to date is in my own lab environment.

    You say they don't care but at some point they're going to have to.

    Because the sysadmins coming up through the ranks today don't have any kind of the brand loyalty that MS seem to believe they've now got all stitched up. These guys will use whatever fills the requirement. And guess what, MS? If you slam the door on them now, you have just said that they may as well look elsewhere. And they will.

    Piracy to a large extent helped you deliver your PC in every home message in the 90's.

    But there were zero viable alternatives.

    Wake up boys because these days there really are. At every level and for pretty much every market.

    1. Graham 24

      >>> I'm really struggling to see their rationale for this

      No doubt they're hoping that all those people who use TechNet licence keys on production servers will now cough up for a "proper" licence.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: people who use TechNet licence keys on production servers

        They already have the tools to do that if they suspect something, which given activation policies, shouldn't be hard to find.

        I started work for my first IT employer right after they finished a nasty MS audit. An employee had left taking with him the client list for the small business. Some nasty lawsuits ensued. Miffed former employee alleged the owner was selling flat out illegal copies of MS software. The audit lasted somewhere on the order of 9 months at the end of which it turned out there was one month for which the owner was unable to produce paperwork to show he owned one license for a rented computer. He bought one additional OS license to cover the shortage and everybody shook hands and departed as business partners. Had he actually actively engaged in any of the alleged activities he would have been subject to $100,000 per incident fines.

        So if MS is doing it just to get people to buy "proper" licensing, somebody is fuck all lazy.

    2. DZ-Jay

      >> I'm really struggling to see their rationale for this.

      It's simple, and the article spells it out explicitly: Microsoft have recognized that they have lost their monopoly position, and so in order to ensure their future survival, they are changing business strategies to concentrate on large enterprises--the ones that have the money. This is the same strategy Oracle took, ignoring the SME and hobbyist, and focusing on the big bucks.

      Supporting small to medium businesses does not pay the bills--certainly not any enterprise that counts its pennies so much that it feels the need to "cheat" by using trial licenses for actual lab and deployment testing. That won't do, and Microsoft needs to let to of any "dead weight" that does not add to the bottom line.

      I'm not saying it is the correct strategy. However, it is not wrong either. It is just a realization by MS that they just can't do whatever they want anymore--they need to focus on making money and guaranteeing their future success.


      1. Anonymous Coward


        I'm not saying it is the correct strategy. However, it is not wrong either.

        Oh but it is, it is wrong on so many accounts.

        Because what you overlook in this statement is Microsoft's core customerbase. Not looking at the depth of their pockets but simply at their sheer numbers: the end users.

        Windows still is one of the most widely used operating system. And many small players, my company included, use that to leverage our own business. For me TechNet is a key asset in my company (you guessed it; mainly aimed at systems administration).

        I think this is a very wrong strategy. Microsoft seems to be overlooking an obvious issue... If you have a $600 product and you manage to sell 2 you have a $1200 revenue (not a profit perse mind you).

        But if you lower said price to, say $400 or $300 you might very well be able to sell a whole lot more (depending on the product). If we stick to $400 and you then manage to sell 4 products you now have made $1600 revenue.

        These are but small numbers, now try to think even bigger.

        Trying to gross in more money doesn't automatically mean that you'll do so by getting the same sales amounts. What is also very important to realize is that big sales more than often start small.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I'm not saying it is the correct strategy. However, it is not wrong either."

        It's wrong for a whole bunch of reasons that other folks have begun to outline, but one of the immediate things that occurs to me when thinking about Microsoft effectively ditching the SMEs is that a percentage of these SMEs are going to grow. An even bigger percentage of people who are working at these SMEs rely on and use their Technet subscriptions that they've managed to piss off aren't going to be working at an SME forever. They'll get bigger, better jobs elsewhere in larger working environments and they won't forget about being shafted. Given the circumstances, it's yet another minor thing that Microsoft are doing that generates ill-will, and to do that to people who are likely to be calling the shots about what software/cloud services are used at some point in the future isn't a good idea when you weigh up this decision v the status quo.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Microsoft have recognized that they have lost their monopoly position"

        91%+ desktop share and 75%+ server share is still a monopoly to me - and as per their recent results - market share and revenue increased on both!

        1. fandom

          "91%+ desktop share and 75%+ server share is still a monopoly to me"

          IBM may have a 100% share in mainframes but the monopoly on all thing computers went away decades ago.

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          ENDPOINTS is the measure that matters, not "desktops." Desktops are now facing real competition from smartphones and tablets for end user timeshare. No longer merely in consumption, productivity has begun to move as well.

          As for server share: prove it.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Supporting small to medium businesses does not pay the bills

        Yet oddly enough it paid the bills for all these years.

        Thinking like that is why so many of the big players are losing ground and laying people off.

      5. JEDIDIAH

        Oracle courting the small fry? In what universe?

        > This is the same strategy Oracle took, ignoring the SME and hobbyist, and focusing on the big bucks.

        Are you kidding? Oracle has always been an overpriced solution for companies with money to burn.

        They have never focused on the SME and they certainly have never focused on the hobbyist.

  5. Roger Greenwood

    The arrogance is breathtaking.

    But sadly it will probably work for at least another 5 to 10 years, and allow those who SME's really need (Autodesk, Photoshop, Adobe, Sage etc) to largely retain their monopoly.

    Where's Eadon when you want him? I miss the little fella.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The arrogance is breathtaking.

      Whoa.... hold on a sec. Suggest you take a deep breath and think very careful about what you're wishing for there!

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: The arrogance is breathtaking.

        Couldn't agree more, however, in some of his posts Eadon hit the nail on the head. He just couldn't express it without a mouth-foam inducing rant.

        MS are losing the plot at an exponential speed and not one single thing they have produced / updated / done for the last 12 months has been in any way a sensible decision....

        Unless they make some pretty massive U-turns (isn't gonna happen) I'd say within the next 5 years they will be unrecognisable as the company they are today (well, have been up until the middle of last year)...

        God, never thought Ballmer could/would do this much damage to such a giant company....

        1. TheVogon

          Re: The arrogance is breathtaking.

          "Unless they make some pretty massive U-turns (isn't gonna happen)"

          You must have missed the new Xbox 180?

          and the Windows 8.1 Preview?

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Re: The arrogance is breathtaking.

            I'd hardly call the xbox 180 (yes, I know) requiring contact once every 12 hours over the net a compromise when the ps4 requires NO such requirement. Hmm, nor the xbox360!!

            Windows 8.1? Are you really being serious? Another half arsed attempt to appease the masses.

            A start button that really doesn't compare to anything from win95 upwards is not a compromise.

            Its MS telling their user to shut up moaning and come to peace with how THEY believe we should work because its happening.

            1. h3

              Re: The arrogance is breathtaking.

              Works for Apple. Probably work for MS for a while.

              (The Ubuntu style ad's in Desktop Search thing will get me to remove every single metro app and change to a start menu replacement if it is true. At the moment I am somewhat indifferent to Metro.)

          2. John Sanders

            Re: The arrogance is breathtaking.

            Wake up, the start menu/button on windows 8.1 is not an u-turn

            And all the DRM niceties on the new Xbox will still be there, and yes they will be used against the users once it sells in sufficient numbers.

  6. Mage Silver badge

    It's been bad for a while

    I had a variety of MS Select, MSDN and Technet subs between 1994 and 2003 when I cancelled.

    I remember the last subs needed you to register and download keys for nearly everything instead of pre printed keys. The keys also got to be a damm pain in the neck to enter.

    I've not done IT support since 2005 and I am SO GLAD.

    Server 2003 and Office 2003 etc was the last stuff I got that way. Then they talked about doing away with the CDs and DVDs even though loads of IT companies had poor Internet Access. Also "the cloud" only makes sense if you have redundant fibre to the premises. Useless for most of the Real World outside HiTech Business campuses.

    Another few years and MS will be as hapless as Polariod, Kodak, Yahoo and now HP. I don't think any of them can keep re-inventing themselves like the Victorian Era Hollerith Company, latterly known as IBM.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    new install next week

    Client wanted comfort blanket of windows, so foundation server for AD auth, but all file shares are on a NAS and foundation will go when Samba 4 is available for the NAS.

  8. Daniel B.

    This is good, but not for MS

    Taking away the freebies means that you'll have less people actually getting the MS stuff for free.

    Which means they'll probably learn the LAMP stack first. This is already the case for a lot of students, but now it will be the scenario for SMBs as well. So it is good, because it means there will be a large migration within the SMB space away from Microsoft. Good!

    1. Tom 35

      Re: This is good, but not for MS

      They seem to be confused.

      Do they want to be Apple or Oracle?

      On one hand you have Window 8 with it's Lego interface and Angry Birds apps, Windows Phone with it's Facebook/twiter people hub, Xbox...

      On the other you have server/exchange/lync...

      Maybe MS should split it's self in two?

      1. Getriebe

        Re: This is good, but not for MS

        @Tom 35 - you are more right than you probabaly know

        Wait a month ......

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is good, but not for MS

      Students can get MS stuff for free / very cheap anyway.

      1. Stiggy

        Re: This is good, but not for MS

        True. I have a DreamSpark account, free as an OU student. It's primarily Studio, Server and SQL, plus some add-ons and certifications. It's also limited to just the most recent couple of versions.

        But given it's free, it's not bad. I expect MS will be canning that too in 3...2...1...

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: This is good, but not for MS

        > Students can get MS stuff for free / very cheap anyway.

        Students should not get MS stuff at all. At least the ones studying engineering.

    3. Steve78

      Re: This is good, but not for MS

      The freebies are still free. They are so free you no longer need a TechNet sub to access them:

  9. scotttech

    Stupid Microsoft - Now there's no reason for on the fence people to stick around

    Well, I've been using the Windows 8 90-day eval copy because I built a new PC and didn't want to spend $100 for a Windows license that I frequently blew away regularly as I tested stuff. I guess I'll just switch to Ubuntu full time, which requires no activation...and considering this will likely be the last OS they do 90-day evaluation ISOs for, I'm guessing lots of other people will too.

    Activation is the worst thing to hit software ever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stupid Microsoft - Now there's no reason for on the fence people to stick around

      So Microsoft won't be loosing any revenue from you then. Mission accomplished - a freeloader offloaded...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stupid Microsoft - Now there's no reason for on the fence people to stick around

        re: anonymous

        I think he would have purchased it and used it if he had liked it. That looks like revenue to me.

  10. jaebsf

    Sign the petition

    Maybe if enough people speak up they'll change this terrible decision

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Sign the petition

      "Maybe if enough people speak up they'll change this terrible decision"

      MS doesn't hear people. it hears cash. They only backed down (slightly) on Win 8 after months of poor sales, and "flipped the switch" (which they claimed didn't exist) on Xbox one's DRM scheme when the cancellations swamped them and PS4's orders sky rocketed.

      I'd guess that in 4 months to a year (depending on how stubborn they are this time) that they'll back off of this when it actually starts chewing into the bottom line.

      1. John Sanders

        Re: Sign the petition

        """They only backed down (slightly) on Win 8 after months of poor sales"""

        Nope, they have tons of cash and keep selling Winserver and Win7 like a champ.

        Let's say that they do not get what the backslash is about:

        "Look ma I can do touch!!"

        -ma: meh!

    2. Anonymous Coward


      I admire your initiative but I doubt it will matter. Even with one of their flagship products, Visual Studio, it took thousands of "feature request votes" (where approx. 400 - 600 is the norm) and even then they didn't reverse their initial decision to strip away all the colours from the program.

      Instead they added some extra themes (to make it look more like VS2010), supplied a theme editor for customization and that's it.

      "Now everyone please shut up while we prepare for VS2013, the next cool version which you are all going to buy because it's even better than VS2012!".

      Yeah right...

      I'm afraid MS has stopped listening to its customer base and their fanbase a long time ago. And quite frankly, I don't think they have what it takes to run their company in an "Oracle like fashion". Oracle never had deep ties with any community because they were never a "consumer player", but Microsoft otoh. is (think Windows, XBox, Office, etc.).

      1. Stacy

        Re: @SelLuser

        Honestly, I don't care about the colours, or the shouty menus in VS 2012. It's all window dressing and, basically for me, meh! It doesn't affect my productivity.

        What I care about is the abomination that is the pending changes window these days! That they have decided to wait for 2013 to implement the old style interface rather than putting it into Update 3 is just plain stupid (not from a money point of view - we have MSDN subscriptions for the devs) but the whole we need to install the new version viewpoint!

        And of course the restructured context menus that mean what was two clicks is now hidden away behind multiple sub menus that make no sense.

        These things cost time, effort and concentration and should be reverted to something simple where people can simply get on with their work!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @SelLuser

          These things cost time, effort and concentration and should be reverted to something simple where people can simply get on with their work!

          Yup, that worked really well with the Office ribbon, didn't it? Sometimes you get the feeling they do this deliberately, just to see what they get away with. You know, UI design in the pub after a few glasses of something stronger..

          Oooooh, I have an idea. You know cut & paste? Let's stick THAT 3 levels down and see what happens.. Bwahahaha.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @SelLuser

            Oooooh, I have an idea. You know cut & paste? Let's stick THAT 3 levels down and see what happens.. Bwahahaha.

            Who in the hell uses mouse menus for "cut'n'paste" or "copy'n'paste"? CTRL-X to cut hilited material to the clipboard. CTRL-C to copy hilited material to the clipboard. CTRL-V to paste material from the clipboard into your app. It is and has been a no-brainer since the beginning of m$ time.

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: @SelLuser

              @AC 16:07

              I use right-click context menus you ignorant cuntweasel. Not all of us have the gift of steady, pain free hands. For some of us it hurts to type. For others, we don't have properly designed workspaces. For still others we often work so many remote-whatever support sessions deep that keyboard shortcuts don't always translate.

              Think about workflows other than your own. You are not the ubermensh; all men are not striving to be you. I'm a highly mouse-driven user and damned happy with it. I can fly around the screen with my trackball mouse and get things done just as quickly as any keyboard-shortcut addict.

              Well, I could...until Microsoft decided that only the middle of the bell curve mattered. Bastards.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: @SelLuser

                I'd also like to inject some additional rage in a second comment. You not only make huge assumptions about others, but you know there are whole classes of individuals with accessibility/disability requirements that basically you are writing off as irrelevant. Just throw 'em under a bus, eh? Who cares about people who aren't part of the master race! *hiss*

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sign the petition

      Not sure I bring myself to sign a petition written by someone who can't spell check a two line description, as much as I agree with the cause.

  11. tempemeaty

    On their shifting sands they stand with feet of clay

    Your article sheds a lot of light on Microsoft's activities. It seems a number of other businesses in other markets have been making similar shifts the last few years. So perhaps we shouldn't be surprised to see MS do the same.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Display of incompetence...

    I do agree with the author that it sure looks that Microsoft is going out of their way in search for more money because it indeed loses its monopoly position.

    However, the way they do it shows how braindead they really are. These are dark times in my opinion. Because if you're losing the edge then I'd say the last thing you want to do is make yourself less popular. Instead focus on that part and make sure that people still want to use and sell your products.

    To me TechNet wasn't merely a source of software for evaluation; it was a /constant/ source of software for evaluation on a wider range than merely the "latest and greatest". This is going to hurt them even more than they may realize I think.

    What I mean with that?

    My company is a Microsoft reseller. My core business is website hosting and in-house systems administration. At my home office I run Win7 and Office 2010. So what to do when I have a job coming up where a customer still runs XP and Office 2007 or 2003 and I need to prepare for something specific?

    Then I download this software from TechNet, setup a test environment and prepare myself to working with the customers environment. I save the serials in OneNote and when I'm done the software gets removed again.

    Obviously that is not going to work any more. The new evaluation centre only provides the latest software for, well, evaluation to determine if you're going to buy it or not. That's not what I'm doing; I'm using it to evaluate how a customer environment looks and feels and to prepare me for my job.

    Not only doesn't that centre provide older (or current!) software; the time limit also makes it useless for me. I don't use software 180 days straight. But I might use it for 180 days in total, spread out over 2 or 3 years or so. But obviously that won't be possible: I imagine that once you start your evaluation the clock ticks for 180 days straight. And when it runs out you're done.

    Its pathetic. You can't even grab Server 2008R2 from there, even though that is still quite a mainstream product.

    The next "alternative" is the virtual labs. Evaluation online. "No need to install a thing". But like, that's exactly one of the aspects that I'm after: getting experience up-front so that I can somewhat prepare myself before going on-site where the customer pays by the hour.

    This is going to cost Microsoft a lot more money than they bargained for I think.

    Do you really think I'll continue to promote MS Office (2013) if I can no longer do any easy test runs myself (I'm still on 2010 myself and that's not going to change)?

    I can see it now... "Sure, I can come over and set up MS Office for you. Let's see, that's going to take me at least 3 hours, excluding the price of Office. I know it sounds ridiculous; but I'll have to do all preparations on site. What's that? Making sure that your environment can actually /run/ Office 2013, I can no longer do this from here. Sorry. Yeah, at E 80/hours plus the software costs its going to get expensive, I know. What? Office 365? Nah, what I'd recommend is considering to get OpenOffice. It's a free office suite and one which I know will run on your environment because I already tested it myself. What? Nah, the software is free and I think I'll be done within the hour. Maybe 2 if you also want some instructions. Well, just look at it this way: the extra E 80,- for an hour of instructions is basically paid by what you're saving with not purchasing Office 2013, which costs much more than that. Yeah, it's fully compatible, no problems there.".

    Does Microsoft really think I'll just tell my customers to get a subscription with them while there's still honest money to be made for myself? I don't think so.

    Your loss Microsoft.

    1. keithpeter Silver badge

      About OpenOffice - Re: Display of incompetence...


      "Yeah, it's fully compatible, no problems there"

      Best be realistic rather than doing an Eadon.

      If the work flow is correspondence, invoices &c with non-macro spreadsheets, then possibly. Starting from ground zero and working entirely within ODF/S/P formats then certainly, I've written complex documents in oOo/LO with significant numbers of graphical objects, and imported eps files, including documents going back to oOo 1.2. No problem.

      LibreOffice has slightly improved MS compatibility compared to OpenOffice (comparing both the current 'stable' builds), and I manage quite well with straight forward documents, including round trip editing, comments, and review stuff.

      Spreadsheet macros? Nah

      Spreadsheet charts? Not so much, can import but some settings and styles lost.

      Convoluted Word documents? You know, the ones where someone has put a table inside a table and then used text boxes to copy the layout of a printed form? Best Save As PDF with those so there is a master copy then recreate from scratch in LO. Might be better than the original anyway but probably would be if you recreated from scratch in Word.

      And how do you replace Outlook? That is my most used piece of software at work, sad as we are.

      I say this as one who has used oOo/LO for years at home.

      I have a USB stick with Portable Apps versions of LO, GIMP, Inkscape, Audacity, R and a few other software-libre bits and pieces I can give demos with. Half an hour on a projector with both demo docs and their own files allows most people to decide what they can use and what they can't. This is non-commercial/students type audience.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: About OpenOffice - Display of incompetence...

        Last time I was in a mixed environment OO handled the (then) latest MS Office formats better then the versions of MS Office we had on the mac or windows systems - even after installing the filters.

        And I've converted a number of macro based spread sheets to libreoffice, it "just work"ed.

        I don't doubt that there are some dodgy bits of VBA that won't transfer, but in most cases it's all happy.

      2. Unicornpiss
        Thumb Down

        Re: About OpenOffice - Display of incompetence...

        How do you replace Outlook? Lotus Notes perhaps... The problem is that we've LET Microsoft have and hold a monopoly on us, not that there aren't better or at least less draconian alternatives out there. Realistically, no company is going to axe their Exchange servers and go to Notes (or something else) overnight over this. Because they're stuck, for one, which is just what MS wants. Our company is doing the opposite idiocy---going to Exchange from Notes because of prompting from up above, and to use a few features that no one that actually does any real work really cares about. And this with a decade long Notes infrastructure in place, and still having to keep Notes because of the myriad Notes databases in use throughout the organization. Utter madness at best, and naturally without the proper manpower to do the switchover.

      3. John Sanders

        Re: About OpenOffice - Display of incompetence...

        """And how do you replace Outlook? That is my most used piece of software at work, sad as we are."""

        Thunderbird, then add lightning, firetray and use davmail to connect to exchange.

        I was a heavy Outlook user.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Display of incompetence...

      I'm pretty annoyed that TechNet is going, but you need to wake up and smell the coffee... Microsoft's future is in SaaS.

      If your home PC is still running Win7 and Office 2010 then fair enough, but what about your work PC or laptop? As a "Microsoft reseller", if you're not on Win8 and Office 365 (with Office 2013 installed locally) then you're behind the curve and doing a disservice to your customers.

      Of course your customers will always be behind the curve so you might need legacy software to test "something specific" but I don't see why you need to destroy your lab environment every time. Set your test lab up in VMs with the TechNet software, activate them and snapshot them so you can keep them for later use. TechNet is only going away in August 2014 so you have lots of time to download what you need.

      The argument of "getting experience up-front so that I can somewhat prepare myself before going on-site" doesn't quite stack up either. Of course you should prepare before a new installation and software installations are of course widely varied in complexity and risks (most of which will be unique to that customer) but you've mostly mentioned Windows desktop OS and Office which are basically idiot-proof to install in test environments... how much more experience do you need installing and configuring Office 2007? Oh, I see, it's for getting experience on the new stuff. Hmm, that's why you install it on your own systems and eat your own dog food.

      Possibly the statement that amused me most was "I'm still on 2010 myself and that's not going to change"... which is not a great attitude in this industry. One of the things your customer pays for is you going out there to test the new software for them; to discover the benefits and gotchas the hard way so that you can offer them sound strategic advice. I'm not saying that software has to be Microsoft, if you want to go the Linux route (which makes your rant slightly redundant) then go for it, but if you want to stay in the Microsoft ecosystem you need to wake up and smell the coffee... Microsoft's future is in SaaS.

      Another thing that doesn't make sense... you say "I'll have to do all preparations on site. [...] Making sure that your environment can actually /run/ Office 2013, I can no longer do this from here." Does your test environment replicate the customers environment precisely? Do you have exactly the same mix of apps and user configurations? Didn't think so... in fact you'll always encounter issues that are unique to the client only once you're there (with them breathing down your neck of course). Then again, your customer is paying for your expertise and *experience* to handle the situation when something goes wrong.

      Finally you dismiss Office 365 without so much as a "meh"... you really do need to wake up and smell the coffee. The future is in SaaS, so while you're busy digging a hole in the sand to stick your head in, your competition is getting ready to delight your customers with Office 365 (or Google Apps :-P ).

      1. AJ MacLeod

        Re: Display of incompetence...

        "As a "Microsoft reseller", if you're not on Win8 and Office 365 (with Office 2013 installed locally) then you're behind the curve and doing a disservice to your customers."

        Er... no, you're not (assuming you have actually tried them and found for yourself what a pile of garbage they both are - what a pain in the neck Windows 8 and associated "secure boot" / hidden product key botchups are proving in the real world.)

        You might be doing Microsoft some kind of imaginary disservice by not forcing their latest products onto your customers "just because" - but for almost every type of SME I can think of, Windows 7 and Office 2003 do virtually everything they want for the forseeable future as it is (built in PDF printing excepted, perhaps, which there are obviously ways around .)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's it

    Although I am almost exclusively using *nix at work these days, I have maintained an MS setup at home to keep up with their latest stuff using TechNet, which has occasionally bled over into using MS tech at work.

    If they take away TechNet then that is the final straw. No more messing around with a 5 o'clock's time to cultivate a full on beard.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Won't get fooled again!

      "And the partition on NTFS,

      is now a partition on ext4,

      And the beards have all grown longer overnight"

  14. david 12 Silver badge

    It is a mistake.

    The strategy has been obvious for years. And the simple justifications are obvious.

    There is no money in small business.

    Windows is a legacy product.

    But no, windows/unix/linux didn't get to where they are now by pricing themselves out of the tech/learner/teacher/small business market.

    So I don't see this as just MS maximising their profit out of their legacy cash cow. I see this as MS failing to update Windows over the last 10 years, then managment saying "see: we were right all along not to allow investment in change, because the product is a legacy product, and if it get's worse, well even more that proves we were right, and if we loose even more customers, that proves trying to get more customers would have been a waste of profit"

    Microsoft management strategy over the last 20 years has selected a class of managers with extreme skills at holding onto their job and not getting fired.

  15. Mephistro

    Oh, well...

    Microsoft is selling its car to buy gasoline. In a few years they'll notice that their products aren't so attractive to big customers without the synergies created by their big base of small customers. But it'll be too late for them. Not for Ballmer, who'll be enjoying his bonuses in a golden retirement.

    I've said this before and I'll say it again: I can't understand why MS shareholders aren't revolting en masse and dragging this fuckwit Ballmer through the courts.

    1. Grikath

      Re: Oh, well...

      Because most of those shareholders are corporate entities in and of themselves, with their own golden parachutes for their higher echelons.

      The majority of "shareholders" wouldn't give a rats' arse about Microsofts' survival, they'll simply offload their shares when they hit their bottom line, or use them as a loss leader for tax reasons. It's a Big Money game, you see?

      1. Mephistro

        Re: Oh, well... (@ Grikath)

        "Because most of those shareholders are corporate entities..."

        I'm aware of that fact, but 'most' doesn't equal 'all'. There must still exist a noticeable % of small investors who prefer stability over short term profits, or who want to keep the stock for other reasons, e.g. keeping some degree of control over the company, as was the case with Bill Gates a few years ago.

        In my opinion, these small investors would do well to either jump ship while they can, or try to steer MS out of this tailspin.

        Anyway, you'll probably agree with me that a system that promotes the destruction of companies in this way is fundamentally flawed, and needs some serious rethinking.

        1. Grikath

          Re: Oh, well... (@ Grikath)

          I doubt that any amount of small investors could muster any more than a minority block, which then has to convince the lawyers/analists of the Big Players that Ballmer ( et. al.) should be handed his shoebox and shown the exit. The chances of that happening are ..not encouraging.. to put it mildly.

          I do agree with you that the whole system is rotten to the core, but it has been for decades, and the real money is (sometimes literally) made by those Big Players and their datacenters snuggling up to the stock exchanges. They are not likely to be willing to change the status quo, to put it mildly.

          I'm afraid that the *real* bubble hasn't burst yet, and that things are going to be way worse than they are now before the whole cardhouse comes down in a giant *pop* across the globe.

  16. David Gale

    "Thank you", says Android desktop...

    This move reminds me of Adobe's arrogance when they locked down products like Photoshop. In one fell swoop, they destroyed the underground skillbase that had ensured that their product was a natural choice the moment that any pirate grew commercial wings. It's remarkable that, apparently, neither Adobe nor Microsoft have the slightest clue as to the reasons that underpin their past success.

    At a time when Android apps are already free to test, how long is it going to be before testing the core integration suite and enterprise apps becomes the sole preserve of the open source community?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So Trevor starts his article by telling everyone how he uses TechNet software in all of the test rigs he runs. Which the license prohibits.

    He then goes on his usual vitriolic rant about how MS hates everyone. He does however expect that the company he spews vitriol all over should continue to provide him with cheap access to its products.

    Maybe Trevor, and this is speculation on my part, there is a cause and affect issue here?

    Unlimited MS software will still be available to everyone under MSDN. I agree that MSDN costs more than TechNet. But MSDN does contain the rights that allow software testing.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Except the license doesn't prohibit using it for a testing environment. It can be interpreted that way, however every single Microsoft employee, sales representative, VAR MS licensing specialist and even MS product managers I have spoken to in the past 3 years have assured me that "building a test lab" is exactly the intended purpose. It is the whole reason TechNet was included in the Action Packs.

      So you can sling your bullshit somewhere else. The rationale that "TechNet was never for testing" (which I started to see pop up even before I had finished typing the article) flies in the face of everything Microsoft has said about TechNet since the beforetime.

      I'm bitching because Microsoft are killing a great service whilst simultaneously getting the drone army to attempt to retcon the purpose of that service in order to change their plea in the court of public opinion from "guilty of murder" to "self defense." What is truly insulting, appalling and downright insane is that a learned Register commenter would be front and center amidst the mob trying to rewrite history to serve the next quarter's bonus targets.

      Here I mistakenly thought Register readers were capable of spotting blatant attempts to disconnect message from missive. I am saddened to be wrong.

      1. Tomato42

        for all we know he could have been one of MS shills

      2. hamcheeseandonion

        You're right Trevor..I've been a licensing geek for nearly 20 years, and it's only recently(relatively) that the MSDN subscription EULA was altered to include "test" as well as development - *that* was the stiletto between the ribs of TechNet.

        Even when i worked on the MS Partner HelpDesk, we used TechNet on a daily basisi, just to be able to put some poor miserable sod of an SME partner out of our misery - a much under-rated product back before the millenienienium.

        Agreed - damned foolish to eat your seed corn AND shoot the breeding livestock - MS will end up producing homogenised product....OK insert the word "more" in front of that....but any remaining sparkle/glimmer/glint of originality will dim that wee bit more because of this.



  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    correct response

    Microsoft are wankers who have been stealing and extorting money for the last 18 years or so - steal the software from them. They deserve it.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: correct response

      "Microsoft are wankers who have been stealing and extorting money for the last 18 years or so - steal the software from them. They deserve it."

      >BZZT< Wrong answer!

      Why? Because piracy has always been MSs backup plan. From their point of view, if you're not paying for it, you're at least still using it and locked in.

      Their worst case scenario? People looking for answers outside of MS, and realising that MS isn't really needed,.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Allow me to reciprocate

    As my business trends and business dynamics continue to evolve, I shall be retiring all Microsoft software starting today.

    I will continue to provide testing services to my customers up to June 30 2014, after which time they can sort out their own mess.

    In the meantime, I will start migrating my home and company to Linux or Apple. Looks like I have some decisions to make.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Allow me to reciprocate

      Sir, if I may, I am working on a series of articles about exactly that: replacing Microsoft in the SME. Give me a few weeks and you should have some of the answers you seek.

      1. TKW
        Thumb Up

        Re: Allow me to reciprocate

        All done here, with the exception of Exchange, which is still the only software I can find with decent calendaring and push support. Looking forward to your views.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Allow me to reciprocate

        I will be looking forward to your efforts with great anticipation, Sir Trevor!

      3. Getriebe

        Re: Allow me to reciprocate

        @Tevor - for, to me, you will be forever Tevor. We shall always have Brigton!

        I too will be interested in in what you have around that subject

        I have asked on here a number of times on here how people would replace the MSFT server side of business, but only seen tumbleweed.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Allow me to reciprocate


      4. Chezstar

        Re: Allow me to reciprocate


        I have a company that has some specialist software used in the finance/legal sector, but it outputs any letters to word, using mergefield entries.

        If you can come up with an alternative to word that would allow for that (Which I may be wrong, but nothing I can find online seems to indicate OO/LO etc will support it), I will donate my first child to you, and possibly even get a tattoo of your name on the ol' jatz crackers.

        Believe me, I've been against the flood of money being forked over all the time for installs of Office in SMB's. The price has always been too high to ask SMB's of 10-15 people to fork over. AUD $300 per machine? Why would the office install alone cost nearly as much as the computer I just built that needs to have office installed on it?? Tack on windows, and there is half the cost of your new computer right there.

        And as for technet going, black, black days for Microsoft. I use technet all the time as a one man tech firm, for exactly the reason it is there for, to help evaluate the software for use in an environment. The current environment. The environment that still has XP machines with office 97, 2k, 3003 and onwards on it. Which means having access to those old pieces of software.

        Get me off word, and you will have thumbs up on every article for life good sir :)

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          "Mergfield entries"

          Are you talking about mail merge fields? Because that's been doable in LibreOffice for some time now. There's even a wizard.

          Now, if I am incorrect in what you're asking about, please provide me more information! I like learning new things and I am unsure what exactly you're up to here that LibreOffice won't do.

          1. Chezstar

            Re: "Mergfield entries"

            Apologies, just re-read my original post and realised that I had missed somewhat of a chunk of information. Lets just say that yesterday involved a distinct lack of coffee, and an excess of communication with the wife, so the brain turned to much before lunch time :)

            The mail merge "mergefield" entries are used to populate letters where the variables are handed to the document by VBA scripts from the other software program. You select the letter you want to generate, and the other program opens a word template, and hands it a whole slew of variables, and the word template uses the <MERGEFIELD blah> entries to populate the letter.

            So it's actually not the mail merge part, its actually the VBA support that is missing. And from what I can see, the developer of the other software program being another SMB is not really keen on opening up that access, as it is easier to just keep doing it the way they always have :)

            I guess that probably points to another one of the MS flaws of frustrating the efforts of open source, as I'm guessing that is why no one else has bothers implementing VBA into things like Libreoffice?

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: "Mergfield entries"

              Actually, implementing VBA into LibreOffice is a current project. Already they have made many basic scripting elements work in Calc. They are working on Writer and Base right now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Allow me to reciprocate

      "I will start migrating my home and company to Linux or Apple. Looks like I have some decisions to make."

      And some time and money to find....

      1. Mephistro

        Re: Allow me to reciprocate (@ AC 2nd July 2013 08:21 GMT)

        "And some time and money to find...."

        As opposed to paying through the nose for -often- substandard software, and spending months of your life trying to understand MS product's license terms or trying to get help from MS 'support' (for lack of a better term).

        Recommending and/or deploying MS software is increasingly becoming a risky proposition for systems technicians and admins. How will it end? No need for a crystal ball here, methinks.

        1. launcap Silver badge

          Re: Allow me to reciprocate (@ AC 2nd July 2013 08:21 GMT)

          >As opposed to paying through the nose for -often- substandard software, and spending months of your life >trying to understand MS product's license terms or trying to get help from MS 'support' (for lack of a better >term).

          And my particular hate - CALs. You buy the server product, you buy then desktop product. You then have to buy another imaginary license (or more than one depending on the 'features' you want - often optimised to make sure that the most like feature sets are spread out between standard and enterprise CALs) to actually enable you to use that shiny new server feature that you thought you had already bought..

          Or as I call it - making you way three times for the same thing.

          1. Roger Greenwood

            Re: Allow me to reciprocate (@ AC 2nd July 2013 08:21 GMT)

            "And my particular hate - CALs"

            Agree. When I first heard about these, some years ago now of course, I genuinely thought it was a joke.

      2. John Sanders

        Re: Allow me to reciprocate

        """And some time and money to find...."""

        The trick is not to do everything in a single day/week.

        The learning curve many be more steep but once you build enough know-how you are essentially free from vendor lock-in.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Allow me to reciprocate

      It can be done. In fact, I used to run a business aimed at the S end of SME and installed hundreds of *nix systems whilst still giving the users enough function and eye candy to make them productive *and* happy.

      There are different levels of nix-ness to take an SME customer to.

      The simplest is to let them keep Windows on the desktop and replace the back end file servers and suchlike with a *nix. I used OpenBSD for firewalls and samba because it would run on ancient hardware without keeping me up all night worrying that it'd been hacked. You could do the same on Linux today. This is a good option for mom-n-pop businesses that buy their PCs through the retail channel (Dixons, Best Buy etc) and who do not want to have to think about anything complicated. Or you can cheat even more and buy one of those little Linux based NAS boxes like the Netgear Stora.

      The next level is to talk them into replacing Office with LibreOffice. This is easier than it sounds for SMEs because the level of complexity in the way they use Office is minimal. For email, they can use a webmail provider.

      Beyond that is the switch to a desktop *nix. I sold this under the banner of standardization, and typically with a gateway drug: there's always someone like "Bob" whose PC acts up a lot. Get them a liveCD and show them their PC working and they are hooked, because you just saved them $500 on a new PC. I used to do RedHat here because the support for customizing the install scripts and doing mass installs was the best; these days I would look into a 'buntu of some sort just for the eye candy. (Do not underestimate the importance to your project that Doris can customize her desktop colors six ways to Sunday; watercooler opinion counts for a hell of a lot when there are only 20 people in the office.)

  20. Confuciousmobil


    The scrapping of SBS was the start, Microsoft do not want Small Businesses.

    My not so Small Bussiness just paid £500k to get out of their MS contract rather than pay a lot more to be tied in.

    MS are losing the plot.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: SBS

      I suspect they are losing the plot. Small business is not profitable they say. Where do they think all those "Big businesses" came from? Umbrella Megacorp not not simply pop up over night, and then turn around and ask for 5K licenses for each product. They all start small and grow.

      If you make it harder for your software to get in at the ground floor then in 25 years time all of the new sexy big business will have a background in other platforms - probably Linux given Macs are too expensive to roll out in volume. Once that happens you are truely shafted. All of your existing "big business" will be paying out high margin to MS, if they go the Oracle model, and all of these not-so-small businesses will be coining it with Linux not paying out to MSFT every year. Once a few big businesses prove you can make Linux work, and save a lot of money into the bargain, then a lot of the "risk averse" companies will start to think seriously.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SBS

      "The scrapping of SBS was the start, Microsoft do not want Small Businesses."

      SBS was replaced by Server 2012 Essentials - which removes the cost of Exchange from the bundle and allows choice between buying Exchange or using Office 365...

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: SBS

        Jesus, you don't quit do you? The "Server 2012 Essentials" argument was dismantled here already. Do try to keep up.

    3. Stiggy

      Re: SBS

      "The scrapping of SBS was the start, Microsoft do not want Small Businesses."

      On a much smaller scale, the same applies to Windows Home Server. Quite a nice product, even if they dropped drive extender support with WHS 2011. Nowadays they expect you to go buy Server 2012 Essentials. Yeah, right, I'll drop more on an OS than I did on the server...

      Actually they don't expect that at all. They expect you to stop using local storage and go to the cloud. Not entirely practical with 10TB of data...

      1. Wensleydale Cheese

        Re: SBS


        "The scrapping of SBS was the start, Microsoft do not want Small Businesses."

        On a much smaller scale, the same applies to Windows Home Server. Quite a nice product, even if they dropped drive extender support with WHS 2011. Nowadays they expect you to go buy Server 2012 Essentials. Yeah, right, I'll drop more on an OS than I did on the server...

        Or do what I did. Add a bit to price of Essentials, and instead get a Mac mini and upgrade it to 16GB with third party RAM for less than $100. Add $20 for Mountain Lion Server if you want that capability and turn that WHS2011 box into a Linux server.

        It's working nicely for me.

  21. msage

    Oh... I guess it's time to brush up the other OS skills. I can see Mac Minis and Linux making an appearance at an SME near you. I did an install a couple of weekends ago to replace SBS 2003, replaced it with Ubuntu and Zimbra... ironically they talk to each other using Samba AD!!!

    The end user has noticed no difference. I am not sure what will happen to the desktop market, but I suspect this could erode the SME server market share.

    c'est la vie.

    1. keithpeter Silver badge


      "The end user has noticed no difference."

      I'd love to see a write up of that one with some details about the workflow and client UI if your customer has no objection.

      Good for advocacy &c

      1. raving angry loony

        I'd be all over that kind of write up. Just saying!

  22. Magister

    So long; it was good while it lasted

    Have to say that Technet was highly valuable; what surprised me were the number of people / IT depts. that did NOT have a Technet subscription. It most cases, their arguments actually came down to the fact that they just didn't care about their work or the quality of the service that they delivered.

    It seems to me that this is just typical of the way things are developing; the smaller shops are either being squeezed to outsource their IT, or to spend a lot more than they need just to stay operational.

    Would I go with MSDN? Not sure at this stage. It's actually not about the price, but about the product and the value to the user; and I'm not sure that I could really justify the MSDN subscription due to the amount that it would be used.

    1. Getriebe

      Re: So long; it was good while it lasted

      I've run a big department without TechNet for a few years. We use MSDN and volume licensing. Maybe we are not the target. And maybe thats their point.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Captain Bawlmer speaks of his vision for the future

    We have been taking on water a for a while now but we can fix it!

    I've handed out shotguns, for use if anyone finds a leak.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has anyone tried Samba 4 in their test lab?

    In replacement for Windows for the long-term "infrastructure" VMs? If so how did you get on?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Has anyone tried Samba 4 in their test lab?

      @AC 0827 - I've got the Sernet Samba4 server ( - works nicely) running as a VM within a technet Server2012 instance (Irony!) and the handful of Windows VMs I have set up connect to it OK, authenticate against it and you can push GPOs out OK (using RSAT from Win7 to set up GPOs and users etc) so the basics all seem to work fine. That's at Svr2008 functional domain level - I started on 2003 functional level, then updated it on the fly to 2008 and it worked fine without having to rejoin anything that I recall.

      The main limitation is the single forest/domain/whatever limitation (I'm sure someone can expand on this, it escapes me for now without researching it, but there are some limits) but for an SMB with just the need for some AD authentication, if you're supporting it yourself and you're comfortable with Linux, it seems to work fine.

      I work for a consultancy of sorts, and I have been pushing it to the higher uppers, but it would be 'too hard' for other engineers to learn apparently.

      Anon, because my 'other engineers' have been known read this site - as have our managers.

  25. Fihart

    I'm taking my ball with me !

    As per an earlier comment, Microsoft gained market control by encouraging piracy of Win95/8 -- supplying businesses with a CD per desk (which were then frequently dumped en masse) and publishing Microsoft Press guides (aka manuals) to its major products.

    Having achieved world domination, they turned the screws with XP activation, coincidentally first forcing businesses to buy broken ME and then broken Vista on new machines and have to pay extra and waste a day to install XP that then needed time consuming Service Packs to work safely.

    The nonsense with DOCX as the default save in Word made users who knew no better put pressure on the many who'd stuck with earlier Word versions. Win8 (again) obligatory on new hardware and, if not broken, almost universally unwelcome. Subscription model for applications, costing as much per year as cheapest retail versions cost to buy outright.

    Though I'm not part of the market for TechNet or MSDN, I understand how galling Microsoft's strategy (or suicide note ?) is -- in effect, "if you you won't let me win I'm leaving and taking my ball with me".

    Well, we can play that game. Follow the mass migration of Joe Public to Android and Apple -- or look seriously at Linux.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: I'm taking my ball with me ! DOCX

      My 2002 versions of Word and Excel use MS's free compatibility pack for DOCX, but I've been increasingly using Open Office and now Libre Office. I actually prefer the Charting interface on Libre Office.

  26. Dramoth

    Thank god...

    I was considering getting a technet subscription last week. All I can say is thank god I didnt.

    1. The Dude

      Re: Thank god...

      I did. And then I read this. Great.

  27. P Taylor

    Lost the Plot

    Ive been a TechNet Pro Subscriber for the last 13yrs, and ive got to say, when I got the email yesterday from MS I nearly fell off my chair.

    Are they insane ?, do they have no idea of what they are about to do ?.

    Im beginning to think Microsoft have the same Board Directors as Blackberry !.

    Busy few days ahead, downloading Everything from my TechNet account, and grabbing all my Keys.


    Fingers crossed we all see a 180 on this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lost the Plot

      I haven't seen anything about voiding all the known keys yet. After all it's all downloadable in XML so some mass parsing @ MS and a patch :-)

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Well, I'm pretty mightily annoyed about this. I have relied upon TechNet for years to give me access to MS software to maintain my home test lab. I work in backup and archive so a time-limited installation is never going to cut it. I also require a fair bit of time to build and test these environments, as I have a limited amount of time to build environments, it can take several weeks to get something up and running, because I have a life and don't spend all of my spare time doing IT stuff.

    I looked at upgrading to the minimum level of MSDN, I just can't see the conversation with my wife about increasing payments from £133 PA to £5170PA going well.

    I will just say though: All you people who used TechNet to get ease your conscience, all the people who run their companies on TechNet and the people who got a subscription, downloaded every version of Windows desktop, then never renewed it. You are to blame as well.

    1. Ben Norris

      Re: Grr...

      You are talking nonsense. The cheapest level of MSDN is nowhere near 5 grand and if your business is getting so much benefit from access to this software then why shouldn't you be prepared to pay for it as a business cost? Also with virtualisation, spinning up test environments is a matter of copying a few images these days. It shouldn't take more than hours to set up even a complicated environment with scripts.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Grr...

        He was talking about the cost of the version with Office. Not the cheapest version. As to "prepared to pay for it as a business cost": fuck you, sir. With a gorilla. In the face. Sideways.

        Let's lay some statistics down on you here; this time from Canada.

        In December 2011 (the last point of published stats) we had 2,383,796 small or “indeterminate” (or government’s way of saying “too small to register properly”) businesses in our nation. A “small” business is less than 100 seats. There were 18,999 businesses between 100 and 499 seats and 2,528 businesses with 500 or more seats.

        That makes 2,528 “enterprises” in my nation versus 2,402,795 SMEs.

        A significant chunk of those SMEs - which are by far the majority of the companies in my nation - simply can't afford MSDN. Many of my clients have trouble finding 30-40k for hardware + software every 4 years. To say nothing of individual systems administrators seeking to build home labs to learn. In most cases in the SME world - and thus in most cases int he world, period, administrators don't get Technet or MSDN from work. They have to buy that shit themselves, just like certifications.

        Your arrogance is astounding, as is how unbelievably out of touch you are with the people at the coalface just trying to make a living here. You are engaging in a game of "blame the victim" here. No matter how you try to rewrite history, the overwhelming majority of people using Technet were not pirates. They were coalface administrators trying to build a working and experimental environment from the only option realistically fiscally available to them.

        Microsoft - and you, frankly - is engaged is nothing more than retroactively criminalizing, sentencing and punishing the very people who have devoted their careers to Microsoft's products.

        Let's see what that nets them, shall we?

        1. Philip Lewis
          Thumb Up

          Re: Grr...

          Yes Trevor. +1

        2. raving angry loony

          Re: Grr...


          "fuck you, sir. With a gorilla. In the face. Sideways."

          (well, and the rest of the quote)

          You sir are my newest hero! Nicely said. But surely you must have realized by now that ANYONE who gets into bed with Microsoft ends up sorry and sore. They've been doing the same thing to "partners" for well over 30 years now. The folks who have devoted their careers to Microsoft products are just more in a long line of people Microsoft has screwed over.

          So welcome to the club. You going to stop pushing the drugs now and start looking at solutions that don't require businesses to sell their souls?

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: Grr...

            I review technology, regardless of source. For all Microsoft's many - many, many, many (many!) - sins...they make some of the best technology on the planet. I get uppity because they used to be the preferred vendor for "my people" (the SMEs) and they now have kicked us to the curb for the prettier customers (hyperscale).

            Loathing Microsoft's business practices will not stop me from reviewing the technology on offer and reviewing it as objectively as I can. My job is to provide information. In a lot of cases it is information on stuff that I won't be using personally.

            In addition to reviewing Microsoft's latest greatest, I'll also be reviewing non-Microsoft technologies from other companies. It's just sort of what I do.

            1. launcap Silver badge

              Re: Grr...

              >For all Microsoft's many - many, many, many (many!) - sins...they make some of the best technology on the >planet.

              Correction - they take other peoples ideas, tweak them enough to be incompatible then use them to dominate.

              Example? Active Directory - at it's heart it's kerberos with enough MS extensions and tweaks to make it incompatible. Sure - the toolset surrounding AD is nice, but the basic technology and design certainly doesn't come from MS.

              SMB? - Came from IBM and ended up with MS because of the various OS/2 collaborations.

  29. Roland6 Silver badge

    Free Resources at BizSpark

    "Microsoft is retiring the TechNet Subscriptions service to focus on growing its free offerings"

    [Source: MS TechNet Subscriptions FAQ]

    Not done a full comparison but it is probably an idea to establish a 'shelf' company and sign-up for BizSpark which will get you three years of free access to MS products.

  30. Ben Norris

    Peoples simply have a mistaken definition of testing

    Technet was always just for evaluation of products. The only testing it ever included was to see if the MS product was suitable.

    What most of you are calling testing, trialing environments, performance, etc. is actually development and as such should always have been covered by MSDN.

    If you are a sales partner then the action pack is for being familiar with the products! And the time limited images fill the evaluation gap.

    Microsoft arn't taking away a service, they are clarifying a situation that people have been abusing. No you arn't entitled to all their products for next to nothing! What other company offers that?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Peoples simply have a mistaken definition of testing

      Funny how this "clarification" - you'll pardon me if I more properly refer to it as a retcon - goes against years of guidance from Microsoft itself. I have asked very specifically on numerous occasions what the licensing rules are that differentiate Action Packs, Technet, MSDN and so forth. The word on Technet has always been the same: it is for testing (the word always used by MS employees, VAR licensing know-it-alls and other MS reps).

      That said, I'm sure rewriting history will make everyone feel guilty about how they've spent years taking crusts of bread (known as "lost sales") out of Microsoft's hands all this time. Once they know they are worthless, thieving freetards then their anger will dissipate, they'll love Microsoft again and their wallets will fly open.

      Don't have the money? No problem; they'll work a second job or take out another credit card just for Microsoft. We owe them that much, don't we?

      After all, it simply must be true that we've been hearing wrong for a decade. I know it's true because Microsoft now tells me so.

      1. Ben Norris

        Re: Peoples simply have a mistaken definition of testing

        Yes testing the suitibility of their products, not general testing of your product or environment!

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Peoples simply have a mistaken definition of testing

          "Testing the suitability of their products" is what most of us used it for. The problem you have is that you can't seem to extend that to include things like "patches" and "service packs" in that definition. The point of the project was to ensure that you could deploy Microsoft software - including their ongoing support items - reliably. Or rather, that's what they told us. Now we get a different story; they need to kill it and with the least PR damage possible. So it's far easier to blame the users of the service than to say straight up "we want more money."


        2. hplasm

          Re: Peoples simply have a mistaken definition of testing

          No need to test- MS products are becoming increasingly unsuitable.

    2. hamcheeseandonion

      Re: Peoples simply have a mistaken definition of testing

      I call BULLSHIT!!

      I've worked with the licensing side of TechNet and MSDN for too many years to be comfortable with, and as i said beforehand, it's only recently that MSDN was redefined as for TEST and development.

      TechNet was, for SMEs, the optimal route for TESTING and/or EVALUATING whether or not the solution you were providing to yer customer actually worked, when you uncaged the gerbil - DEVELOPMENT, you muppet, is an entirely different kettle of keech!**

      ** Scottish for shite.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Peoples simply have a mistaken definition of testing

        have to agree with hamcheeseandoninon: the word directly from Microsoft - from their employees, product managers and licensing specialists - as well as from their VARs was that I was not only allowed to build a lab for testing patches and new software versions from my TechNet licences, I was strongly encouraged to do so.

        On more than one occasion Microsoft has furnished me personally with a TechNet licence for the express purpose of building a testlab. I remember getting one with an MCP exam I took for exactly that purpose. I was given one for attending a conference and another as part of my post-secondary education. I am pretty sure I've gotten at least one for blogging stuff. This year marks the very first time ever that Microsoft has provided me an MSDN subscription for that same purpose. It's the first year I have ever even had someone suggest MSDN as being useful for me as a systems administrator who does not do development on or for Windows in any way shape or form.

        MSDN was always described as for developers who wanted to stand up environments to test builds of their software against. I have never once been told by Microsoft before 2013 that MSDN was the subscription level required for building a testlab. I had even asked that question several times - probably more than a dozen - to be absolutely sure during the last audit I participated in.

        This was to ensure I understood the differentiation between Action Pack and TechNet licences. I very specifically asked if I could use a TechNet licence to stand up a testing VM for a third party application so that I could test if Microsoft patches would affect it. I was crystal clear on this and was told quite explicitly "that is what TechNet is for."

        Microsoft has changed their positioning on this only very recently and is now retconning as hard as they possibly can.

        Just because Microsoft's wetware tells you that something is so and has always been so does not make it the truth. Here's a little shocker for you: Microsoft distorts the truth, plays lose with the facts and outright lies to achieve their aims. Critical thinking, it's an important skill especially when combined with actual experience in the subject matter you're so prodigiously butt-snorkling about.

        1. hamcheeseandonion

          Re: Peoples simply have a mistaken definition of testing

          ...and one more thing to help define what WAS TechNet, and what IS MSDN...just a tiny wee hint....

          Apart from the OS only version, MSDN doesn't come alone - it's true name is Visual Studio *Whatever* with MSDN *Whatever* that to me is a strong indicator that its target audience ain't SME-land...what it does allow you to TEST, is the coded app that you wrote using the developer tools, and that's why the other downloadable stuff is there.

          If you want to make sure that the product stack that you recommended for your customer, be they small or medium, actually works together, on the hardware they want - you test and evaluate - you DON'T FUCKING DEVELOP!.

          Everybody clear now?...or shall Trevor and I pay you a "visit"?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Hamcheeseandonion is actually wrong

            MS have recently launched a product called MSDN Platforms that provides access to all MS technology but does not contain any Visual Studio tools.

            It is way cheaper than Visual Studio Premium and Ultimate, which are the prices that most people on this thread seem to be referencing. It does cost more than TechNet (did) though.

            And being an MSDN product, you do get testing rights with it.

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: Hamcheeseandonion is actually wrong

              MSDN Platforms is not included in Microsoft's buy now site. The cheapest on that site is MSN Operating Systems which starts at $700.

              MSDN platforms is available only via Enterprise subscription, Select, Select Plus, Open value and Educational solutions, starts in around the $750 mark (If you hunt for a deal) and still doesn't include Office.

              Official information on MSDN Platforms is functionally non-existent and thus not only can any MS professional be excused for not knowing about it's existence, but most of what is known is inference or speculation based on information exposed by partners. (Unless Microsoft has very recently finally posted an official page on the damned thing.)

              MSDN Platforms is not only more than double the price of TechNet it isn't a direct substitute for what TechNet contained. Not Good Enough. Not by a long shot.

              Also: you are sort of right in that MSDN platforms does not include Visual Studio but does include Team Foundation Server (?!?) as per this document"and MSDN Platforms subscriptions include a server license and one Client Access License for Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012. "

              It also separately says "Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN, Visual Studio Premium with MSDN, Visual Studio Professional with MSDN, Visual Studio Test Professional with MSDN, and MSDN Platforms subscribers can download and deploy one instance of Team Foundation Server 2012. These same MSDN subscribers are granted a Team Foundation Server 2012 CAL to be used within their organization (it is not valid for use of Team Foundation Server acquired by a different organization)."

              The entire idea of TFS being in it but not VS gives me the question marks.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Hamcheeseandonion is actually wrong

                TFS is often used by software testers for test case management. MSDN is the license solution that MS uses to license test environments.

                1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                  Re: Hamcheeseandonion is actually wrong

                  MSDN may be the licence solution that Microsoft uses to license test environments now. It was not always thus. Any attempt to reinterpret TechNet licensing to remove testing from it's usage cases is nothing more than a desperate attempt at newspeak. Convince the proles that the war in Eurasia is going exactly to plan.

                  It is only with the build up to TechNet's murder that MSDN has gained the "testing" role and the offering on the table with MSDN as a "replacement" for TechNet is wholly inadequate.

                  You can shovel shit as as much you want but it will still smell just as bad. But fear not, citizen, for we have always been at war with Eastasia.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Peoples simply have a mistaken definition of testing

        As mentioned in a previous post to Trevor, product use rights documents going back many years are available on line. Perhaps you can review them and point to when TechNet use rights were redefined?

  31. rich0d

    Just wondering, do TN licences timebomb after your years sub is up? Or do you just lose new activations?

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Do TN licenses expire?

      No they don't however, the license keys are provided on the subscription site, so you only have access to them for the duration of your subscription; unless you explicitly download/copy the license keys.

      1. rich0d

        Re: Do TN licenses expire?

        So technically, I can be as up to date with all of my M$ offerings until my sub ends in June 2014? Just go on a leeching spree of anything which I don't already have, and save the keys for future use?

  32. stim


    So, basically, everyone who has been using this 'loophole' to use Microsoft products for tiny prices (i.e. the price of a TechNet subscription for Windows, Office, & half the catalogue etc.), now actually have to go and pay for licences!

    Whoah! who'd have thought that this would ever happen?!

    Any business getting blatantly rinsed by its 'customers' would shut that door.

    You can still test the products for 90 days, but now you have to actually buy a licence to use their products.

    (or club together with your mates and buy an MSDN sub!)

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Freeride

      Technet never allowed you to use those products in production environments. That was never a debated item. The debate is about the definition of evaluation environments and whether or not SMEs and individual sysadmins can be realistically be expected to shell out thousands - or even tens of thousands - of dollars in order to ensure that Microsoft's patches work as advertised.

      Microsoft says "you have $20K worth of MS software in production? We want you to pay at least $6K (to get the base usable version of MSDN) per year to test our patches before deploying them, rent on a cloud for about the same or buy a whole other $20K." They had been telling us "that's what Technet's for" for around a decade.

      Now apparently what they had told us wasn't accurate - and remember, the burden isn't on Microsoft to provide you accurate information, it is on you to know what it accurate and what's not! - so we're all of us guilty of financial terrorism thus making Microsoftion Techneticide entirely justified and not a dick move at all. Get it? Got it? Good.

      1. stim

        Re: Freeride

        yes, yes, I do get it, got it, and I do agree with all of that.

        However, the fact that "Technet never allowed you to use those products in production environments" is the point you need to look at because in reality, even though it's 'not allowed', I bet there are tons of people who ARE probably using TechNet as super-cheap way to install bread n butter apps like Windows & Office and also use all the other software they want for long periods of time... (years).

        1. Semaj

          Re: Freeride

          Indeed there were a lot of users who did that. And now they will either pirate the software they need or they'll go elsewhere.

          Way to go MS.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Freeride @Trevor_Pott

        >Technet never allowed you to use those products in production environments.

        I suspect that MS will now deem the 'structure' of your testlab environment to be a 'production environment' because of the way you are using it for product evaluation.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Freeride @Trevor_Pott

          ...but my testlab environment is Synology + Samba 4 + CentOS + VMware + a picture of Ballmer with a penis drawn on his face.

          They can deem the structure of my testlab environment anything they want. What they can't do is a goddamned thing about it. After all, you don't need to test MS software if 80% of your remaining sysadmin work is "getting MS the fuck out of the SME". The other 20%, well...they know the risks. If they want to Oracle themselves on the great sandbar of Microsoft, let 'em. I give no fucks so long as I get my bag of silver.

  33. raving angry loony

    This could be good news

    You mean that small and medium businesses will no longer be able to afford to jump straight onto the Microsoft bandwagon?


    Maybe they'll finally start looking at (and listening to those who propose) other solutions that are actually better for them. I mean, TechNet was like the crack dealer saying "first couple of hits are free". Now they'll actually have to start paying up front and will start to realize right away just how expensive Microsoft solutions really are *before* they get hooked.

    So this could be good news.

  34. John Sanders

    Well, I saw this on the wall three years ago...

    Moved full penguin, no regrets, no loss of revenue.

  35. Roo

    Licensing is a no-win for customers.

    As a customer why would you bother with licensing *if* you can avoid it ? It costs you money to administer over and above the money you pay to the vendor (e.g.: auditing, reading endless documents, convincing the vendor you are paying them enough). Also the vendor gets to change the rules unilaterally, when it suits them.

    The big win with Open Source is decoupling your business from your vendors, and thereby reducing unnecessary risk, overheads and misery.

  36. Beauchamp

    GNU/Linux is now the only show in town.

    A completely GNU/Linux business ecosystem is the provably correct business strategy for almost all companies not directly involved with producing MS compatible software.

    We long ago classified MS as another dead technology. Their business plan seems to be orientated around producing new things, not better or compatible things. This is a business risk for any company with a horizon that is more than 2-3 years.

  37. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

    Up market is where IT companies go to die

    I agree this move is rational, but for MS execs, not MS itself.

    MS is abandoning the fight to get small firms and although they aren't each very lucrative there are a lot of them and some are the big firms of tomorrow. If you look at the Top 100 or Top 1,000 or top whatever list of firms today you see as relevant then look at the list 10 years ago you see quite a difference.

    So in the short term something that pushes up margins a little reduces costs ever so slightly looks good this year and next and when the executive share options pay out.

    But we are already seeing many firms start up using little or no MS S/W, do you think they'll move to SQL Server ? Why ?

    Remember most firms aren't in IT, they provide some service or make something and take the path of least resistance, as long as the IT works the management don't know or care whether the server runs Linux or Windows. So if the IT guy says "I can get Linux doing what we want in a week, but for Windows we need to have a meeting with one of their partners to discuss our business needs, then work out exactly how many users we will need and and tell them so that we can negotiate prices *then* do the installation etc", which one will they pick.

    You could stop MS selling to every company under 5 meg turnover and not even be able to measure the impact on their profits, they might even go up.

    This year.

    A few years later you have a momentum that is unstoppable, but Balmer and his cronies will be gone, in fact they will have left on a high and be interviewed saying "it all went to pot after I left"

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Up market is where IT companies go to die

      "MS is abandoning the fight to get small firms and although they aren't each very lucrative there are a lot of them and some are the big firms of tomorrow."

      Interesting then that they seem so keen on staying in and regaining ground in the consumer space...

      My expectation, given how late MS were to the tablet, smartphone market, was that they would focus on "Windows for Workers" rather than fashion. Not sexy but probably highly profitable because many people would still buy a home computer that ran the same applications as they used at work.

    2. Alan W. Rateliff, II
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Up market is where IT companies go to die

      "But we are already seeing many firms start up using little or no MS S/W, do you think they'll move to SQL Server ?"

      Indeed, quite the opposite! I worked recently with a EMR firm who is shifting from Microsoft SQL Server to MySQL (probably soon MariaDB) because of the cost. Even the unlimited connector license adds several thousands of dollars to the cost of implementing their product, whereas MySQL on a Windows or Linux VM is for all intents and purposes free.

      "all the extras with Technet CDs vanished quickly."

      THIS is huge. The TechNet utility CDs were awesome. Now it's all scattered various blogs and disparate sources which, often if you're not hunting to resolve a particular problem or curiosity, you ain't gonna find easily. And the forums... good God I hate the forums. So many abandoned threads with no resolution or points to a third-party commercial solution. And then there's always the great last post of "I got it solved, guys, thanks for all the help!" followed by a half-dozen "How'd you do it? Care to share?!"

      Paris, she hid my comment icons...

  38. Risky

    Lets be honest

    Technet subscriptions were used by people with a lot of machines around the home who previously might have used pirated software but felt they didn't want the hassle. I thought that MS were probably happier this way but I guess they were goign to shut this down sooner or later.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Lets be honest

      But is that really a problem? remember most people will probably only install a few copies of Windows, Office, the developer tools and maybe a home/media server? I can't see many who will be running an enterprise configuration of Dynamics say.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MS has Screwed Corporate America

    Without a rubber. It's gonna get ugly.


  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well there is a surprise...

    The cost of the MSDN replacement almost like-for-like on my technet sub is £11k first year and £3k yearly , up from my £99 Technet renewal I was expecting.

    What are Microsoft thinking with this move, that all of the customer base will migrate to MSDN ?

  41. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    What happens to existing TechNet subs?

    Will they continue to function, or will I suddenly start to get messages on my VMs that the key has been revoked?

    1. Getriebe

      Re: What happens to existing TechNet subs?

      Nope they will continue to work.

      And if you keep on renewing your sub they will keep working, for ever - or until MSFT take that for ever away.

      So existing users carry on as before and anyone ante'ing up now will be like the girl who bought a sub last year

      Why a poster above said they were stamping their tiny tiny feet on tehground and not buying now - I do pot understand

      Also I believe the number of keys you can activate per weeki s down

      Or am I wrong?

  42. Candy

    I, for one, have just had a "free and frank exchange of views" with my Microsoft TAM. She definitely understands that we are not happy.

    Whether that will register anywhere within MS, I doubt. But I feel a helluva lot better for having got it all off my chest...

  43. Alan W. Rateliff, II

    A method to Microsoft's maddeningness

    Back in my day, Microsoft had three big subscription suites: MSDN, TechNet, and the Action Pack. These were used by developers, technical and administrators, and sales partners, respectively. I raised holy hell when I was suddenly required to take sales assessments to renew my MAPS, explaining that as I support and sell Microsoft product every day, I really don't have time, or the patience, to take moronic assessments which any moron can pass since they're essentially open-book tests. "It only takes 30 minutes/one hour" they says; that's 30 minutes/one hour I cannot spend supporting OUR customers and making money.

    Over time in the VAR channel, I have noticed from Microsoft a trend which edges us all out more and more, a little bit at a time. After the love-in that was the Windows XP and Server 2003 roll-out died out, during which we were enriched with free support training, tonnes of gifts and swag (actually how I got my first MAPS,) I began to feel more like the guy who only got friends because they wanted to sleep with his sister.

    The past couple of years I have fended off phone calls and emails from Microsoft encouraging me to become a reseller of its on-line products which were competing directly with its own partners. Oh, you run a hosted Exchange environment? You should resell ours! That's a nice SharePoint farm you have there! ssssSS! But damned if us technically inclined-partners did not just keep running our own stuff, mostly free from Microsoft bi-polar operational practices and the prying eyes of the NSA.

    My latest tangle with Microsoft was over System Center and Virtual Machine Manager for a customer Hyper-V virtualization project. In short, after six months of sacky-tag, I never did get an actual SKU or pricing, and at the end Microsoft wanted to bill me. Fuck you, Microsoft, I went to VM Ware and had a quote by the end of the day. I am rolling out a vSphere-based product in less than four weeks.

    If my point has thus far been elusive, it is simply that Microsoft is pushing DIY techs out of its market. There is no need for prototyping environments, test labs, or emulating customer environments if you just put all of your stuff in the Microsoft "cloud." Imaging the bliss of not running or owning your own infrastructure; just give it all over to Microsoft. Small Business Server? Exchange? I think you mean SkyDrive and, Comrade! (Or whatever products it pushes instead, I am not a sales droid.) We will just throw you Server 2012(R2) as a bone to make you feel like you still have relevance.

    TS2 has dried up, the in-person events are about using and developing for Azure, developing for games, selling hosted services, and so on. TechNet is being discontinued. Microsoft has come to have use for just two types of partners: developers, developers, developers, and sales droids.

    I hope my sister has a good time.

    (Where the bloody hell are my message icons?!)

  44. This post has been deleted by its author

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well that's going to save me some money. MS getting less....

    Technet was a great product, all the latest webcasts, updates, tools, service packs as full downloads for admins (although finding admin installs online did get better) and not the annoying little installers. You could build systems, check SPs, updates all working on a test bed, build base images, app deployment. Then with the volume / purchased licenses have your official build release for production. Setup and take down all sorts of server, desktop OS and app combination labs. Evaluation is fine up to a point, but if you are testing, training all the time, evals run out.

    Technet made fixing problems easier, customer has newer OS, or older, same for Office apps. You could quickly throw a system together from the Technet downloads and work on the problem.

    I have seen project go fine for 1-2 months, changes in circumstances may mean some delay, then it's urgent to continue. Technet fitted exactly, you could VM everything do other tests & labs then go back to previous setup. I suppose your test lab could always be VMs of the evals, except they expire.

    Technet wasn't expensive, easier to justify @ home and work where MSDN was seen as too expensive for 1 person. For example I have just started Srv 2012 training but along with other courses it's going to be spread over a longer time than 180 days. Who knows after the basics, if another eval lets me do more later on. Or the main tesbed box is scrubbed and Linux put on for a few months, then back to MS OS.

    And at the end of that, all you had to do was give MS some money every year, for 8,9,10 and now 0 years.

    First the CD/DVD packs were being moved to downloads, then monthly updates, the paper keys went online, all the extras with Technet CDs vanished quickly. Yet the cost was the same. Wondering how many Technet subscribers there were and what sort of income that was.

  46. Sean Wallace

    If you really need an alternative to MS Office to recommend to your clients then Softmaker Office is a good option. It's *actually* compatible with MS Office as opposed to quasi-compatible Libre Office and Open Office. It's also cheaper than MS Office and, best of all, has a native Linux version (you can download a .deb or .rpm). I convinced my mum to change to Linux on her laptop after a nasty incident in Windows involving keylogging of debit card details and discovered this little gem while searching for a native Linux office application for her. I personally opened, resaved and checked with MS Office several complex Word and Excel documents; all formatting etc was preserved unchanged.

  47. The Dude

    moving on up?

    Microsoft appears to be ratcheting up the push into the cloud. All my clients with all their data on cloud servers...

    That simply will not happen, too many of my clients are paranoid buggers who want their data safely tucked away where only they can see it. Given recent revelations, maybe they aren't so paranoid after all.

    I guess it is time to seriously consider pushing clients into Linux <sigh>

  48. Redsyrup

    A shot in the foot

    Without Technet I never would have discovered Microsoft Lync and pushed our firm to adopt it. The program is a revenue generator.

  49. redhunter

    A few years ago they took away physical media and at about the same time jacked the price up on the Action Pack Subscription. I'm guessing that I'll see another price increase to Action Pack now that the TechNet benefit is gone.

  50. Steven Raith


    ....this whole debacle has encouraged me to look at spending some money.

    On formal linux sysadmin training. I'm fairly tasty with desktop linux and can google the crap out of most problems I find, but I can't honestly say I could run a farm of Linux boxes in a corporate environment.

    Best start learning, eh?

  51. Steven Raith
    Thumb Up

    Oh, and can I just add...

    ...some top debate/gassing in here, kids - another reason why I enjoy Mr Potts articles. The comments on El Reg are always interesting (and readable now that Eadon has be foxtrot oscar'd) and well worth a look to a greater degree than a lot of the articles on the site, but I find the level of debate in Potts articles and subsequent forum threads to be a cut above for the most part.

    Keep it up, chaps and chappettes.

    Steven R

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the other name for a certified Microsoft Business Partner?

    Organ donor.

    First seen (afaik) in a 2002 comment posted on LinuxToday's website.

    Understanding how accurate that was has taken a while longer than might have been anticipated back in 2002.

    More recently I've been saying for the last year or three that when MS's volume market fall starts, it will not stay gradual it will become increasingly rapid because the ecosystem of MS's own certified MS dependent business partners will see their incomes threatened as their smarter competitors move to being Linux-ready (or Apple-ready in a few special cases). And now it would seem MS themselves will be directly helping that process.

    I see no reason to change that view of an accelerating decline. Exiting from a market doesn't have to mean disaster for MS if it's done sensibly. Does anybody here think the MS exit from the non-corporate market is being done sensibly?

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What on earth are they thinking???

    Like I expect a lot of people posting comments I have used Technet purely to help me evaluate software and test various configurations to help me design and install solutions that make sure MS software works well for my customers. Without that toolset it will just become harder and the net result is less stable solutions for my customers.

    Reality is that if I want to setup a scratch environment with AD, SQL, etc, this takes time and if I gave to do that from scratch every time then the cost of projects goes up considerably.

    And sorry, I am not going to spend £5k on a MSDN license cos I just cannot afford that. So MS actually loses revenue and their products will also lose market penetration as dad fewer techies and designers will be pushing the products with confidence that we currently have through 'it all works cos I installed that, tested the configurations, etc'

    Stunning, absolutely stunning incompetence from MS.

    1. John Sanders

      Re: Stunned

      """Stunning, absolutely stunning incompetence from MS."""

      In this case is sheer malice, they want money.

  54. F6Typhoon

    TechNet Moaning

    TechNet has always been a subscription service for the evaluation of MS products. MS obviously don't see a need for this subscription as all software they release now is available for evaluation purposes for free, i.e. no need to charge for this service. It is obvious from a large number of these comments listed that many have been breaching the licensing terms, including myself. Developers have and have always been required to subscribe to MSDN. This subscription provides the access to all current and previous versions of software for the purposes of developing for their products. I think people need to get over this and move on. If you make money out of developing for MS products then an MSDN license is what you need, if you want to evaluate a product download and evaluate it for free, and if you have been exploiting the license usage be happy that you have saved so much up till now.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: TechNet Moaning


      There is a fuck of a lot of difference between developing and systems administration. You can't do patch testing on the free versions for the reasons stated in the article. Microsoft has explicitly stated on more than one occasion that this is exactly what Technet is for. Only now has the story changed to reinterpret the licence so that they can retcon it's purpose and blame the victims for it's disappearance.

      Anyone who does that is in my books a douchecanoe of the umpteenth order. Anyone who supports such a move is someone I will never have the vaguest shred of respect for.

      1. F6Typhoon

        Re: TechNet Moaning

        I never once said I supported this move by MS but that they would perceive that they have now provided evaluation as a free service for all products.

        As for patching, if a business has the capacity to test patches before approval for delivery to production then there are other options which would be available to them under volume licensing and/or via software assurance.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: TechNet Moaning

          A) timebomed evaluation copes are inadequate.

          B) MSDN, volume licensing and software assurance are too expensive for most businesses.

          It must be nice to believe that the entire world can be served by the narrow cone of your own experience; reality be damned, just stump up the dollars that aren't there, son, or do without. You didn't really need security, patches, or any other aspect of a business, did you? If you did, well, surely you can afford enterprise margins or cloud subscriptions!

          Don't forget to pay your lawyer that little extra to deal with the fact that assholes with more money than human compassion have delegated you to be the legal canary in the coalmine.

          It's easy to simply write off millions when you're seated atop a comfortable horse.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TechNet Moaning

        Trevor, the definitive license rights for individual Microsoft software products is detailed in the product use rights (PUR) document, which is available publicly online. If you look at this document, you can see what the TechNet license rights are around testing. You can also check back to product use rights documents from several years ago.

        You may also want to type 'compare msdn to technet' in to a search engine and see what pages are returned.

        Perhaps you should do this and report back? After all, it would be awkward if your article turned out to be a rant based on the assumption that TechNet licenses could legally be used for testing, whereas in reality they could not?

        Also, whilst on this topic, perhaps you could comment on whether the likes of oracle charge people for non production software installs? As this will be the kind of competitor that Ms compares itself to.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: TechNet Moaning

          What I am basing my article off of is quite simply a career's worth of answers from Microsoft employees about how to interpret the terms of use agreements for TechNet. You are correct that they are centred around testing and Microsoft's own people say that this testing includes things such as testing patches and the suitability of Microsoft's software in various environments. That includes building long term test labs for this purpose; the whole point of the permanent licences included with the TechNet service.

          That Microsoft wants desperately to change the story on "what TechNet was for" doesn't alter the guidance they themselves gave to partners, cert holders and end users when asked direct questions on the matter.

          As to comparing to other vendors like Oracle, you are absolutely right Oracle does not offer a simliar package. Oracle also doesn't give a rat's ass about SMEs and I do seem to recall making the compairaison rather directly between Microsoft and Oracle in my article.

          Microsoft has abandoned the low margin SMEs, power users hobbyhorses and enthusiasts. Trying to argue that Microsoft are morally and ethically correct in doing so because "everyone else has done it" is weak at best and completely misses the point.

          Either Microsoft's own representatives have been lying to millions of us in the guidance they provided for roughly a decade or Microsoft are fucking SMEs, power users hobbyhorses and enthusiasts over right now. There are no other alternatives.

          Just because you can interpret a document in a manner that suits Microsoft's current business priorities does not retroactively make that how it was was interpreted by Microsoft or retroactively alter the guidance their people provided when asked direct questions. No matter how badly Microsoft or the attendant sycophant brigade want it to be so.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: TechNet Moaning

            Trevor, can you substantiate your claim that MS staff advised you that TechNet could be used to cover test environments? Do you have some emails perhaps? Would be marvellous if you could share them. Or perhaps we should just take you at your word. After all, you do not seem to have any axes to grind when it comes to MS..........

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: TechNet Moaning

              I've built an entire career on Microsoft. Deployed their technologies in almost all client locations. Trained on them, memorized the structure, syntax, layout and operation of their technologies and I still currently make over 80% of my income either supporting clients that use Microsoft technologies in the wild or writing about Microsoft technologies for The Register. Microsoft has recently flown me down to Redmond to show me Server 2012 R2 in all it's glory; just a few days ago they hooked me up with an MSDN account so that I could continue to build my test lab.

              To suggest that I have "axes to grind" with Microsoft that would cause me to make false accusations in public is not only insulting it is patently ridiculous. I have every incentive on Earth to shove my nose so far up Microsoft's ass that when they speak it is with my voice. Without Microsoft I would be unable to pay my mortgage and I would have no career.

              To speak out against Microsoft's practices - from shutting down Technet to pointing out that VDI licensing is holding back entire industries - is risky bordering on suicidal for me. Microsoft does not treat its critics well; look at how long Mary Jo Foley was banned for doing what reporters are supposed to do during the Microsoft monopoly trial. Every time I speak up I run the very real risk of being blackballed and having my entire livelihood collapse.

              So no, I don't have "axes to grind" with Microsoft. Quite the opposite; I want a strong, healthy, vibrant Microsoft so I can continue to make money off of them until I retire. VMware doesn't spend nearly so lavishly and I don't have the network of contacts inside any of the other titans of technology to stand a snowball's chance in a neutron star of turning them into my cash cow should Microsoft start drawing down.

              I have nothing to gain and everything to lose by speaking out. If you honestly believe that I would make shit up just poke Microsoft in the eye then you are a fucking idiot. You are even more of an idiot if you believe that the person who writes about trust, trustworthy computing and the importance of legal risk mitigation is going to post confidential customer information on the internet because some butt-snorkling coward is too goddamend lazy to pick up the phone and start calling systems administrators and partners around the world to see exactly how widespread Microsoft's dispersal of this message was.

              Unlike some who call themselves "journalists" - especially those who report on Microsoft - I not only have legitimate (and ongoing) experience in the field I am reporting on, I go out of my way to cultivate contacts amongst systems administrators, CIOs, VARs, MSPs, and so forth to better understand the industry I occupy at all levels of the stack. My experience as regards Microsoft's messaging is not unique. Christ man, the comments section of this article alone should be enough to demonstrate that to anyone capable of even the most basic intellectual honesty.

              If you want to malign me or impugn my trustworthiness you feel free to do so. As an SME sysadmin with a crippling weight problem, too much personal debt, an underwater mortgage, a lack of post secondary credentials that means my mommy will never respect me and the traditional self-confidence and personal image issues born of a lifetime of social ostraciseation as a nerd I don't have a fucking ego to offend. You cannot think less of me than I do of myself.

              What you should probably bear in mind, however, is that my readers know me. They know my tics and my foibles. They know that I am honest to a fault. (I am such a terrible liar that it has gotten me into trouble on more than one occasion because calling things like you see them means you say things people don't want to hear.)

              Trying to paint my article, my comments - and by extension those of all the others who have raised their voices alongside mine - as the works of a liar bent on sticking one to Microsoft simply reveals your own prejudices and intentions. I'd say you've done my work for me in this thread, sir. You've called yourself out in a far more efficient manner than I ever could.

              I will leave it at that and let the reader decide. Good day.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: TechNet Moaning

                So, the summary of this rather wordy post is that you cannot substantiate anything?

                1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad
                  Big Brother

                  Re: TechNet Moaning

                  You may think that we have always been at war with Oceania, and Trevor has to do some heavy lifting to disprove that.

                  Only we haven't quite reached that point yet. MicroLuv still has some work to do.

  55. F6Typhoon

    Your complete rudeness doesn't warrant another response other than to wish you luck sorting out your crisis.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Those retcon'd t's and c's...

    Ahem... This used to be the statement about Technet. This has since been removed (since yesterday in fact).

    New page:

    Old page:

    "Evaluation scenarios allowed with TechNet Subscriptions

    The following scenarios illustrate some activities you may do as part of the software evaluation process. Please be aware that subscribing to TechNet Subscriptions does not grant rights to develop or test applications—the use rights are for evaluating the Microsoft software.

    TechNet Subscriptions software may be used to evaluate the Microsoft software in the following scenarios:

    Install/Uninstall – Time and process required for full, partial or upgrade software install/uninstall processes and system integration.

    Recovery – Capacity for software to recover from crashes, hardware failures, or other catastrophic problems.

    Security – Defining software’s ability to protect against unauthorized internal or external access.

    Compatibility – Gauging software performance in existing or new hardware, software, operating system or network environments.

    Comparison – Evaluating software to determine product strengths and weaknesses as compared to previous versions or similar products.

    Usability – Assessing satisfaction among end users, observing end user utilization and understanding user interaction scenarios.

    Performance – Ensuring software will perform as expected to requirements.

    Stability – Estimating individual software’s ability to perform consistently, relative to system demands.

    Environment – Determining software settings while software is being evaluated by end users in existing infrastructure."

    Note: evaluating patching is included in the list of things permissable (under install/uninstall), as is gauging compatibility (can't do that with the 90 day evals, can't get anything that's not the latest thing).

  57. A A

    As a loyal, mostly, Microsoft Systems Administrator since the NT3.51 days all I can say is, thanks Microsoft.

    Thank you for the good article Trevor.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Voice from the coalface here...

    Ubiquity and inexpensive Technet mean Microsoft skills are cheap for employers.

    I get modest five-figure pay, long workweeks, no training time or budget, and no access to "developer" tools, but I'm happy to have any work at all in an economically-depressed region.

    Forget paying for and scheduling Microsoft classes to obtain their barely-relevant certs. My home lab, with everything available on Technet in VMs I can spin up on demand (install/configure once, forget until needed), is the only way I can afford to stay employable, or begin to support new M$ products.

    This is the reality of life for most lower-level "enterprise" Microsoft sysadmins.

    I work for a very large, very stingy healthcare entity faced with ever-shrinking reimbursements. Cloud services are not options due to HIPAA and other requirements.

    Regardless of whether the low wages, short-staffing and lack of training or tools represent wise strategy on my employer's part, these practices are commonplace for the kind of enterprise business that Microsoft is counting on to keep it afloat. At the same time, Microsoft is eliminating the resources that maintain affordable M$ techs and admins.

    Best of luck with that.

  59. Redsyrup

    Thank you Trevor, Great Article.

    Killing TechNet will NOT stop piracy. I've seen MSDN ISOs and keys online for as long as I can remember. What will happen next? raise the price on MSDN subs? I've got news for you Microsoft, you're more likely to price MSDN out of reach for the common towns folk before you ever put a dent what pirates can download. At the end of the day pirates will obtain your goods and they'll use stolen credit cards if they must.

    TechNet is your best friend for exposing new hearts and minds to your products. TechNet is responsible for creating future crops of Microsoft Diehards. This can't be done with 90 day evals or limited rearms. True fans are created through trust, slow growth/nurturing, bonding with the consumer and honor. A kin to producing a diamond over millions of years of faithful TechNet subscription.

    These Diehards go on to become your next wave of corporate insiders. Your direct contacts to the beating hearts of IT Server Rooms and Server Closets the world over. These are your IT foot soldiers who might as well be branded with Microsoft tattoos. We push for your products and massage yearly budgets in order to make your software possible. I'm still committed being gainfully employed and our company may well spring for an MSDN sub but it's the younger generation of IT foot soldier I worry about. The ones who have yet to pick up a keyboard. Loosing them won't loose them to the IT Industry. They'll still grow-up same as the rest of us but they'll grow allegiant to Google, Apple, Amazon, FireFox or Linux. Microsoft's loss is their competitors gain.

    Loosing TechNet weakens Microsoft's chances on the difficult road ahead. I'm with Trevor on this. It's hard to watch the decline and foolish decisions of such an important company (in our lives).

  60. MelniboneanAirways

    Good article on an awful decision by Microsoft

    Makes you wonder just exactly what was the point announcing free Office 365 subs for TechNet subscribers if they were about to kill it anyway.

    Awful decision, now I'll be looking at reskilling on technologies I can afford to stay relevant in as TechNet was my gateway drug to all things Microsoft.

  61. Brian Allan

    Listen up pirates... sounds like an opportunity to expand your businesses!

  62. Glen Turner 666

    Time-based labs? Pre-VM concept.

    The whole notion that time-based licensing was suitable for product testing was always doubtful, and these days it is entirely wrong. The test VM forms part of the delivery of the service. It is an environment you can arc up when further testing of the deployed infrastructure is needed -- either to extend it, or if to analyse a balls-up by exploring if the killer issue was seen in testing.

    So TechNet had to go. A better vendor would have replaced it with something better.

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