Microsoft has unexpectedly killed off the TechNet subscription service, eliminating a popular option for many IT pros to test out software and services they haven't used before. If you already have a TechNet subscription, extending it before 31 August would be a sensible move.
According to Microsoft, the ending of the subscription service reflects a change in customer habits: "In recent years, we have seen a usage shift from paid to free evaluation experiences and resources." The TechNet site will continue as a support resource and will offer evaluation downloads.
The change is likely to impact the number of IT pros who check out new releases. As our frequent guest blogger David Klemke points out, keeping a non-time-limited system permanently set up to test individual apps is a lot less effort that downloading entire environments:
The reason why TechNet was so useful was the lack of time and feature limitations, allowing you to work freely with the product without having to consider some arbitrary limitation. For people like me who like to evaluate different bits of software at different times this was great as I could have an environment set up with all the basics and just install that application on top of it. Time limited software doesn’t provide this functionality, making evaluation done at the individual professional level essentially pointless.
Microsoft is accepting extensions and new sign-ups until 31 August and allowing them to be activated for a month after that, meaning you can potentially have a subscription until 30 September next year. If you don't want to miss out, that would seem wise. The base-level TechNet subscription costs $337 in Australia for a year, or $260 to renew. Right now, only the discounted download-only version for $236 appears to be on offer.