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When I first learned about the TechNet subscription services, I was quite surprised about Microsoft’s generosity. It was obvious to me that there must be a lot of abuse. The temptation for an organization to use TechNet licenses on production systems instead of buying licenses must be high.
I suppose making the unpopular decision to retire the service wasn’t easy for Microsoft and I am sure they tried to calculate the loss caused by the abuse. How many will buy licenses after the service closes? However, I somehow doubt that these calculations are reliable. It is not just because not everyone who used a TechNet license instead of a legal license on a production system will continue using this Microsoft product or move to the more expensive MSDN subscription service.
There are two things to consider here. First of all, I believe the whole Microsoft platform will be less interesting to some IT pros. As long there are no real alternatives in corporate IT, this is not really a problem for Microsoft. However, the speed at which Microsoft lost market shares in the consumer market made many realize that changes are now coming much faster than in former times.
Imagine a geek who focused on Microsoft technology but also loves his iPad or Android tablet and the corresponding cloud services. How many will think that perhaps this is a good time to at least have a closer look at alternative technologies and ecosystems? I wouldn’t dare to estimate these numbers and the corresponding long-term loss for Microsoft.
Second, even those IT pros who despise all this post-PC babbling might no longer be encouraged to always try the latest releases. Microsoft can partially compensate by offering free limited-time evaluation licenses. The question is if this is really an equivalent alternative.
IT pros are busy people. You often start trying a new product and then you have to stop the project because something more urgent needs your attention. Then you finally come back to your test environment only to realize that weeks of installation and configuration are lost because the test license is no longer valid. How many will get annoyed and just stay with the old version? Never change a running system, especially if you can’t really run long-term tests with the new system. How much loss for Microsoft? All the math geniuses on the planet couldn’t reliably calculate these numbers.
Of course, Microsoft’s management is aware of these considerations. Since they made the decision anyway, the calculated loss because of the abuse of TechNet licenses must be really big. Remember the Genuine campaign, the introduction of registered license keys for Windows and Office? Not very popular decisions. Did it pay off for Microsoft? You bet!
The market for server software has become more and more important for Microsoft, especially because the consumer market is breaking away. Thus, even though many IT pros are annoyed now, it might be the right decision from an economical point of view.
So should you sign the petition? I don’t want to give a recommendation. I will just tell you that I didn’t sign in it. I can’t really decide if the move makes economic sense for Microsoft, partly because I didn’t see all the data Microsoft has about the TechNet usage. Thus I am not in the position to tell Microsoft’s management what the right way is. I strongly believe that the people who have all the facts should be the ones making the decisions.
I guess the vast majority of supporters of this petition don’t care much of what is best for Microsoft and just want to continue using the TechNet subscription service. Of course, this is 100% legitimate. Hence, if the service is important for you, then this is a way to tell Microsoft about it. This is valuable information for Microsoft and perhaps they will reconsider their decision.
The other question is, how reliable is the data from an online petition where it is not that difficult for an individual to sign up multiple times? If you sign up, I recommend saying a few words about your reasons in the corresponding form field. It will make it more likely that your vote will be counted.
Let me know if you signed the petition. Are you using the TechNet subscription service? Is the service important for you?
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Also read: TechNet petition counterpoint