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Focus will now be on paid MSDN subscriptions and free TechNet services

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has for some time now maintained two separate subscription services to support deployments of Windows, Office, Sharepoint, and various other Microsoft products in the information technology  (IT) community.  IT folks could get some basic support and resources with free trials, but for serious help they had to buy a subscription.

The first service was called TechNet and its purpose was to allow "hands-on IT Professionals to evaluate Microsoft software and plan deployments".  By contrast the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscription offered support for "evaluation, development, and testing purposes."

While a bit different in practice, those goals increasingly became as overlapping as they sound, hence it perhaps is unsurprising that Microsoft at last decided to phase out paid subscriptions to TechNet.

Microsoft TechNet

In a post on TechNet it writes:

Microsoft is retiring the TechNet Subscriptions service to focus on growing its free offerings, including evaluation resources through the TechNet Evaluation Center, expert-led learning through the Microsoft Virtual Academy [MVA], and community-moderated technical support through the TechNet Forums to better meet the needs of the growing IT professional community.

The last day to purchase a TechNet Subscription through the TechNet Subscriptions website is August 31, 2013. Subscribers may activate purchased subscriptions through September 30, 2013.

Microsoft will continue to honor all existing TechNet Subscriptions. Subscribers with active accounts may continue to access program benefits until their current subscription period concludes.

As to why it decided to switch, Microsoft cites the high usage of free trials, commenting, "As IT trends and business dynamics have evolved, so has Microsoft’s set of offerings for IT professionals who are looking to learn, evaluate and deploy Microsoft technologies and services. In recent years, we have seen a usage shift from paid to free evaluation experiences and resources."

It says it announced the retirement before the final shuttering of paid services so as "to provide valued customers with ample time to plan for their evaluation needs and to make the necessary adjustments so that this change does not impact their ability to manage their business."

There's a lot of finer details to the shift, so business will want to read the fine print carefully, but at the end of the day this appears to be a streamlining move on Microsoft's part, shuffling the responsibilities of TechNet onto MSDN, MVA, and other similar free or paid support services.

Microsoft is in the midst of a major leadership shakeup.  The head of the Interactive Entertainment Division (which includes the Xbox unit), Don Mattrick already jumped ship (or was fired, depending on who you ask), landing at Zynga Inc. (ZNGA).  The phaseout of TechNet may somehow be tied to this broader internal restructuring, as well.

Source: Microsoft [TechNet]





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