Over the weekend, my contacts within Microsoft made me privy to some interesting news about TechNet and an embargoed announcement intended to release today. Being a TV and movie fan, the Bring Out Your Dead scene in the Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie immediately came to mind. If you've not ever seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail you owe it to yourself to spend a Saturday afternoon around the glow of the boob tube. It's not only a classic and developed by the Monty Python crew, but it's still one of the funniest movies around.
The Bring Out Your Dead scene begins with a cart full of dead people being pushed along the streets of a medieval town suffering from the Black Death. The pusher of the cart continues calling "Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!" as town residents throw their deceased loved one's onto the growing heap of bodies, and handing the cart man a pence or two as a fee for his service. At one residence, a man attempts to throw an older family member onto the pile who is not quite dead. After a back-and-forth discussion between the cart manager and the man, and determining that the cart wouldn't be back by for another week, the cart manager helps out by finally ending the dying person's existence with a bonk on the head.
Yeah, well, it's tough to adequately explain the scene in an article and do it justice. So, I'll just let you view it yourself. Some of the funniest lines in the move are represented here:
In a semi-reversal to the decision to end TechNet Subscriptions on August 31, 2013, and to help ease the transition, Microsoft has developed a three-prong approach based on customer and community feedback. In essence, TechNet subscriptions are not quite dead yet, but the final bonk on the head is still coming.
Here's what is being announced…
TechNet Subscriptions Get an Extension
Microsoft is giving customers a free one-time, 90-day subscription extension. Those who renewed their subscriptions before the August 31, 2013, deadline have already had their accounts automatically updated. This applies to anyone who has an eligible active subscription from Sept 1stof this year until Sept 30, 2014. The goal with this is to help ensure customers have more time to plan for the transition to other offerings. As an example of how this would work, someone who renewed in late August would have almost 15 months of the service left.
Older Versions of Software Releasing as Evals
Microsoft is bringing prior versions of IT professional products to the TechNet Evaluation Center. One of the bigger pieces of feedback heard was that some people subscribe to TechNet primarily to access older product, to prepare for migrations, and do application compatibility testing. The TechNet Evaluation Center currently houses trial software for the only most recent releases and preview/betas. So Microsoft will be adding prior versions to help enable this migration and testing from products still in mainstream support. Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and others are available now and more will be added over time.
Product evaluations are time-limited to 180 days. While this does not address the full functionality of the old TechNet subscriptions, it does provide something for IT pros.
TechNet Replacement Coming for MCTs
Microsoft Certified Trainers should expect a direct email about the 90-day TechNet subscription extension. MCTs currently receive TechNet subscriptions as part of the program benefits and the 90-day extension applies to their subscriptions as well. One additional piece that MCTs will hear is that Microsoft is now developing a replacement to the TechNet subscription. The new solution will provide access to non-time-bombed software for instructional/training purposes. Microsoft will be rolling out full details of the solution in the coming weeks, and the MCTs will be notified directly about the new service and given a timeline of when they can expect to take advantage of it.
Additional details over all of these changes can be found in the newly released FAQ on the TechNet site: http://www.aka.ms/TNSFAQ
While these changes offered by Microsoft do not address all of the complaints over the death of TechNet subscriptions, it does show that Microsoft has been listening. It also shows that they are dead-set against providing full, unlimited version of software to IT pros. To me, hearing the discrepancy between what is being offered to IT pros versus what Microsoft is willing to do for MCTs, continues to reveal Microsoft's direction of eliminating, or changing IT altogether. As a devices and services company, Microsoft believes they can be the IT for your company. But, there have been many more licenses of Microsoft product sold or retained over the years through IT's influence and not through MCTs. That's just the plain truth.
If Microsoft is able and willing to build a replacement for MCTs, why not make that same service available to IT pros?
What do you think about these changes? Are 180-day evals enough?