By now the announcement by Microsoft that the TechNet software subscription service is being retired is hardly news. Supposedly Microsoft is doing this because IT professionals would rather use limited 90 day trial versions of software and operating systems, or that IT professionals will benefit more from online training. Microsoft has a lot of resources with which to conduct the polling and surveying of customers, so I will not try to convince anyone as to whether or not this is a good move on Microsoft’s part.
I will share with you why this move by Microsoft is a bad one for myself. My time is extremely limited, and as such I do not always have the luxury of working on a single personal project for 90 days straight. Even if I did have that luxury I would hate to have to rebuild every 90 days my Active Directory, Exchange, SharePoint, SQL, System Center, and… you get the idea. Microsoft environments are an ecosystem. Healthy ecosystems are complex, and complex environments are not built overnight.
Especially complex environments designed for the purpose of learning the underlying products. I have heard unconfirmed rumors that Microsoft will allow users of the limited 90 day trial versions to have the trials extended up to four times, but that does not give me comfort in this case. I want to focus on learning technology, and not on when my trial will run out.
This is why I am not going to be running a Microsoft lab at home anymore. I just do not want to have license management hanging over my head. I can easily get Microsoft training through my company. TechNet was the happy middle ground that allowed me to work on Microsoft designs at home without having to manage a great deal other than the renewal of my subscription. Eliminating the TechNet software subscription service and requiring me to use limited trial versions of the same software just strikes me as not being worth the additional effort to use a restricted and limited environment.
My home lab is not going away. I will begin to transition it to a Linux environment. I enjoy working with Linux distributions, and I believe that with an understanding of Linux administrators also gain an understanding of the fundamental technologies that operating systems and applications rely upon. This is not to say that Linux is better than Windows, but given the choice between a free and unrestricted Linux environment or a restricted Microsoft environment for my home lab that choice is an obvious one.
Microsoft’s decision has now forced me to make my own decision. It is not a technical decision, but a matter of convenience. If Microsoft should reverse their decision there is a very good chance that I will renew my TechNet software subscription, but for now I will just focus on what I can do about the situation.
How are you dealing with the changes to TechNet? Does this change impact you at all? Leave a comment on this site or one of the social media sites where I share these articles. I am very interested in knowing what others are doing in response to this change, and I look forward to reading what others share.