Monty Icenogle (kd6cae) wrote,
Monty Icenogle
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Is a microsoft technet subscription still worth having?

Hi all. Today I want to discuss microsoft Technet and whether it's still worth having, given changes that microsoft has made to the program in recent times. Back in June of 2010, I purchased a technet subscription from microsoft for $199 plus tax. This was called technet standard. This level of technet subscription had just been released, and offered pretty much every variety of desktop product from windows to office and more. You didn't get access to things like windows 7 enterprise, but that was OK, my main interest was in checking out the latest version of office and windows 7 for home use. When I first heard about technet a while before I purchased my subscription, there was hardly any difference between the then $349 technet subscription, which was the only one you could get, and the much more expensive MSDN subscriptions that microsoft offered for developers. The differences were mainly in the license terms, and at the time, in fact technet seemed like the better deal, giving you way more for way less. It was almost as though microsoft wanted to sucker you into a technet subscription. You'll see what I mean a bit later. At the time, both MSDN and technet allowed you to retrieve 10 product keys per product, which seemed perfectly reasonable, since the idea is that you as an IT professional would want to test microsoft software on more than one hardware configuration. So knowing this info, and knowing that microsoft had just released technet standard, I gladly purchased my subscription on June 14, 2010. All was fine until around September 15 or so, just 3 months later. At that time, I logged into my technet product keys area to retrieve a key, only to discover that I no longer could retrieve any additional keys for the product, despite me only having retrieved just 2 of what should've been 10 keys! Without warning, the number of keys that could be obtained per product was cut by 80 percent from 10 to just 2! This happened without warning. Now keep in mind, I had always assumed based on what I had read, that one product key could be activated on one computer at a time, so if I wanted to say test windows 7 on 3 computers, I would need 3 of my 10 product keys for that product. I was fine with this logic. But when I saw that products had been reduced to just 2 keys, myself and alot of other subscribers were furious and we flocked to the technet forums for some answers. It was there that I discovered in fact, that each key could be activated more than once, though noone could say for sure just how many times each individual license key could be activated for a product.
This brings up another point. Retail keys for microsoft products, which are most common for windows and office products, do not have a way to check to see how many activations remain for that key, or even how many have been used. On the other hand, if you have a volume license key, for example if you are a business, or have a technet subscription which offers volume license keys, you can see how many activations you have remaining by using a tool from microsoft called the volume activation management tool or VAMT. If you put a retail key into this tool though, for activations remaining, it always will say unavailable. With many users having multiple devices that they may wish to test on, it'd be nice to know how many activations we are entitled to per key. All microsoft will ever say is 1 key per device is allowed, but clearly even retail keys have more than 1 activation allowed for a key, so why not give retail key holders the same info you do for your volume license holders?
Even though I'm only an individual, I have lately wondered what I could do to legally obtain a volume license for windows 7 professional. I have access to Dreamspark, formerly known as MSDNAA thanks to my college, and through that, the windows 7 key I get is a volume license for windows 7 professional. It is a 5 activation MAK or multiple activation key. So at least when I install and activate that key, I know how many I started with, and can check and verify how many activations I have left. But my retail copy of windows 7 home premium? I can't do that! And speaking of home premium, let's go back to technet now. Just this past July, microsoft made even more crazy changes to technet, which I only found out about recently when reading an article about windows 8. Basically as I understand it, they've taken away all consumer editions of products from the technet lineup. This means, that if you want to get windows 7 starter, home basic, or home premium, for example, you ain't gonna be doing that anymore! Want windows XP home to see if that old computer you have still has life? Forget about getting that via technet. So now the only way to get the complete lineup of consumer and business level products from microsoft, is to get an MSDN subscription, the basic operating system one costs I believe around $700! And I have no clue what the product key limits are on technet or MSDN anymore. To me it doesn't seem like technet has any value to it anymore, despite microsoft claiming these changes are being made to maintain the value of the subscription! If microsoft never wanted consumer products in the technet lineup, why were they ever offered? If microsoft never wanted technet users to have access to 10 keys, why didn't they just give them 2 from the start? Many users, myself included, expected 10 keys, then without warning, our keys were pulled from us. and now that products are even being taken away from technet, is there still value in a technet subscription? I'd be particularly interested to hear from technet subscribers. What makes a technet subscription worth having still? And I still would love to know how I can obtain a 5 or 10 user volume license of windows 7 professional legally, so I can install that on my devices, and know exactly how many activations I have left. Thoughts and comments most welcome on this.
Tags: microsoft, technet
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