Why did Microsoft make the decision to retire the TechNet Subscriptions service?

Published July 24, 2013

Illustration of a tombstone with Microsoft TechNet on it.

On July 1, 2013, Microsoft announced the end of the 15 year program, TechNet Subscriptions. Microsoft’s TechNet Subscription Program is a paid program which allows partners to download full copies of most software titles to be used for lab or testing purposes. In an email announcement to partners, Microsoft said “In recent years, we have seen a usage shift from paid to free evaluation experiences and resources. As a result, Microsoft has decided to retire the TechNet Subscriptions service and will discontinue sales on August 31, 2013″. Many have tried to guess the real reasons behind Microsoft’s decision to end the program because the substitutes Microsoft left in place, though free offerings, are just not adequate.

IT pros are now going to have to struggle with time-limited versions and will be more likely to lose interest when reviewing and testing newer products because, like me, most of us never know how busy we’re going to be. To have to go through the bother of tracking when a particular piece of software was installed or to fire up a program only to get an error that it expired, may not make it worth it.

So, why did Microsoft make this decision? Many believe that Microsoft is shutting down TechNet subscriptions to force IT professionals and companies towards “cloud based” solutions like Office 365, Hosted Exchange and Windows Azure, where profits are based on subscription models rather than one-time purchases.

I know this is crummy news, but their might me a glimmer of hope. Thomas Lee and Jonathan Medd pointed out that Microsoft tried closing the MVP program once. The announcement caused uproar leading to MVPs organizing. They fought closing the program by writing Microsoft directly. Inboxes of Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and vice presidents soon flooded as supporters expressed the value of the MVP program. Three days later, Microsoft recanted and reinstated the MVP program. The event is chronicled here.

The similarities between the MVP and TechNet cancellations are very similar. Despite what skeptics say, it just might be possible to convince Microsoft to keep TechNet open. Microsoft is always listening, believe it or not (Just look what happened with the Xbox One). Microsoft is watching online, and collecting data for evidence that customers are unhappy. Many, many people have taken to blogs and articles to voice their anger. A quick Google or Bing search for “TechNet subscription” will give confirmation. Microsoft just HAS to notice all of this backlash.

If you feel compelled to act, please write Microsoft. Start with Steve Ballmer. His email address should be steveb@microsoft.com. Outline in your own words reasons for keeping TechNet open and its importance to you. Also, a public petition, entitled, “Continue TechNet or Create an Affordable Alternative to MSDN”, is attempting to gather enough signatures to get attention from Microsoft so they will consider reinstating TechNet subscriptions, or at least, provide an affordable alternative.

The petition has over 6,500 signed supporters from all over the globe. As the word continues to spread throughout the IT community, I expect the number of signatures to keep growing, especially when subscriptions start to run out. If this news is reaching you for the first time, I highly suggest showing your support by signing the petition.

You can sign the petition at Continue TechNet Or Create An Affordable Alternative To MSDN.

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