Microsoft is preparing to phase out its TechNet Subscriptions service for IT professionals, in favour of expanding its free evaluation programmes. However, the move has angered some users, who say it will force them to invest in a more costly MSDN subscription for long-term test deployments.
The software giant disclosed the move in an email to subscribers and on the TechNet site itself. Microsoft said that IT professionals may renew or buy a subscription before the end of August this year, and the company will honour active subscription accounts until they reach their expiration date.
TechNet, which has been running since 1998, provides IT professionals with access to a broad range of Microsoft software for testing and evaluation purposes at a greatly reduced cost, typically for just a few hundred US dollars per year.
Explaining the move, Microsoft claimed that it has seen a usage shift from paid to free evaluation experiences and resources over the past several years, and that it wants to provide valued customers with ample time to plan for their evaluation needs and to make the necessary adjustments.
In place of TechNet Subscriptions, Microsoft customers are being directed to the TechNet Evaluation Center, which offers free evaluation software for periods of 30 to 180 days, or to take out a Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscription.
However, some IT professionals are already voicing their disappointment, pointing out that operating a test lab environment for evaluation purposes will often take longer than the period allowed under the free evaluation licensing model, and that MSDN subscriptions are much more expensive than TechNet, running into thousands of dollars.
In response, in a statement on the TechNet site, Microsoft said it remains committed to providing IT professionals with access to the resources and technical assets they need to learn about, evaluate and deploy Microsoft technologies.
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