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back to article Microsoft secretly yanks TechNet product keys

Microsoft has quietly changed the terms of its TechNet subscription service by reducing the number of product keys made available for download to its users, The Register has learned. On 15 September Redmond lowered the number of product keys dished out to TechNet subscribers from 10 to a maximum of five, in Microsoft’s latest …

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Anonymous Coward

unfair change to contract terms ?

is this legal

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Gates Horns

Legal?

No its Microsoft

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Jobs Horns

ref unfair change to contract terms

It's Microsoft they can buy anything....

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Thumb Down

title

when they are written on a web page, why not :-)

irony of web 2.0 aside, who would trust a license or T&C written on a volatile medium...?

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Gates Horns

Does it matter?

They are after all Microsoft, and have never given a f@#k if it's legal

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WTF?

Sucks.

I am certainly going to be contacting them regarding it, I just resubscribed and this was NOT part of the agreement. I'll be cancelling my subscripton (which I've held for 4 years) if there is no reticence in this matter.

I would not have minded half as much had I been informed in advance (which would have been before I resubscribed), but I'm wondering now if it was an intentional omission. I even upgraded to Professional with media from my previous standard account at the same time... Stung twice as it were.

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Gates Halo

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

MS's (and numerous others) terms & conditions state they can change terms & conditions any time they choose.

If you don't like it it, don't buy a license to use their software.

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Gates Halo

Unfair Change to Contract Terms

Yeah - it probably is legal

The bit about 'unfair change' etc only applies to consumer contracts, since we're talking about TechNet, the customer is definitely a business and probably a large one at that, no doubt somewhere in the TechNet t's & c's MSFT have left themselves the right to change on notice or on will. Ok so they clearly haven't given notice but....

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Already got burned by change

first, @ Anonymous coward > my feeble understanding of most contract law is that the terms of a contract cannot be made retroactive without the advised consent of both parties. That means a click thru screen doesn't cut it. In fact, I think those click thru EULAs are under litigation in the federal courts.

I got burned by this change. I had a copy of Win7 Home Premium that I had bought & installed back in early February. It was "deauthenticated" in September & MS Technet claimed the key was invalid. I personally believe it was a bunch of hooey that a key that was valid back in March would all of a sudden be killed after 7 months because "Microsoft can't track all those keys and the police don't go after a stolen car until it's reported". Bovine excrement! Not only can the police snag a nicked auto using common software & computer programs on a drive by basis, but I can't believe the registration database is NOT connected to the authentication database somehow. I still think it was a scam by Microsoft to get more revenues to pay for Ballmer's big mouth and Gates' palace.

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doesn't really suck

@vigilante... just out of curiosity, what LEGITIMATE use to you have for your keys that works with 10 but doesn't work with 5? bearing in mind the keys are for testing purposes only...

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This post has been deleted by its author

Joke

Keys for Code::Blocks, OpenOffice, etc.

I have an answer for those of you who can't get what Microsoft promised you. Find a friend with a Linux box, open a terminal and type uuidgen. Copy the result EXACTLY. Download and burn any open source software you want to a CDR, and write the UUID on it; then install as usual.

Ok, I'm not mocking *you* only pointing out the obvious difference between some really very good stuff (I'm much more partial to LaTeX than any word processor I've used) and Microsoft's offerings: the open source folks want you to use the software; Microsoft wants to be certain you've paid for theirs (preferably more than once).

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FAIL

Sigh...

And I just renewed...

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Gold badge

So how will they handle refunds?

This is a change of terms with an adverse material effect to the purchaser, so they should be able to receive a refund as they are not getting what they paid for.

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FAIL

Technet

I'm a user of Technet Pro and have been for a few years now. It's not for all products, some like Vista and older servers still have 10 but XP & W7 have been reduced to 5. Things like multiple activation keys havn't been affected by this.

I was also told that it was a bug in the system.

I pay good money for this service now to find that I've lost half of what I paid for . Evaluation Copies = plenty of sales for Microsoft when the client buys the full monty.

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MS are learning from Apple!

Here is what you used to get for less / free, now we're going to charge you it.

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WTF?

Please do

explain what you mean?

I have only paid for one upgrade from Jaguar to Snow Leopard, and that price, for 5 licenses, at a cost comparable to a MS upgrade (and that included iWorks). I have three Macs, so I feel I got a good deal.

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Silver badge

But in Apple's case

it is probably still worth paying

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Gates Horns

@Aimee

S/He *can't* explain it. Windows apologists and anti-Apple-tards aren't burdened by the ball-and-chain of truth. Whatever they puke out is automatically accurate.

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I didn't buy a subscription for this reason.

I was tempted to pay for a subscription a few years back, since it seemed good value for someone who likes to play with software.

I didn't because I feared that leasing from a company known for illegal practices might not be a good idea.

I loose track of how many FOSS and other free software I've played with since -- only having "personal use" as a stipulation on a very rare occasion.

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FAIL

This cannot possibly

be legal! If you are going to remove my keys that I PAID FOR, then you need to refund some cash ASAP! Otherwise I expect all of the product that I PAID FOR to be given back.

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Price of subscription

Will they be cutting the price of the subscription? Thought not!

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Grenade

Phew.

Very glad I didn't renew then in July! Part of the attraction was being able to more or less not worry about the number of keys as I tested in VM's and on the desktops/laptops around here and similar... having to track keys and ask (call??) for more re-activations would just be really annoying.

If I had renewed, I'd have asked for a refund. Not sure it's really right to change this during peoples contracts...

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You could always

Switch to Oracle products which don't need to be activated

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Anonymous Coward

no it is not a bug. It is a smash & grab raid

Microsoft clearly need the money to pimp up their share price and pay the dividend.

Anon as I've been hit by this as well.

We probably won't be renewing our Tech Net subscription in Jan because of this underhanded balls up.

We are using less & less MS software these days anyway and it is almost cheaper to buy the few products we need outright.

About half our devs only every use Eclipse or Netbeans now whereas 3yr ago most of our stuff was .Net. No longer I'm happy to say.

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Gates Horns

Read the EULA

@Anon

Sadly, yes--read the EULA. You do not have a contract with Microsoft; you have a license. Microsoft is free to change the terms of the license at any time without prior notification or consent. Call me a freetard, but this is one of the great injustices of "intellectual property." It has given near unmitigated power to licensers to revoke rights from licensees, as is the case here. Agreements like this clearly ought to be governed by contract law, and this clearly ought to be a violation of the contract; however, Microsoft claims that you are subscribing to a "service," the terms of which Microsoft may change at will. I understand why companies do this--they care primarily and almost exclusively about their own interests and the interests of their shareholders. What I don't understand is why the legislatures and courts have bought it. The current state of IP law is a monstrous injustice.

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Pint

For your information

the Free and Open Source Software is no stranger to what the world calls Intellectual Property, they also have licenses and EULA's which they chose to enforce from time to time. The difference is in the nature of those licenses and their effect on you as an end-user. Problem is that people refuse to read and understand those license contracts and prefer to switch off their brain when acquiring software. Nobody in this world is forcing you to use proprietary software or FOSS, it's the same like eating in a restaurant: if you don't like it, don't get in there. It is as simple as that. Oh, but I badly need that proprietary software, you say ? Then just pay the price (money and consequences). Microsoft has all the right to inflict all this on you because we all allowed them to do it.

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Silver badge

They may think they can do that, I don't

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1999/2083/schedule/2/made

(b)inappropriately excluding or limiting the legal rights of the consumer vis-à-vis the seller or supplier or another party in the event of total or partial non-performance or inadequate performance by the seller or supplier of any of the contractual obligations, including the option of offsetting a debt owed to the seller or supplier against any claim which the consumer may have against him;

c)making an agreement binding on the consumer whereas provision of services by the seller or supplier is subject to a condition whose realisation depends on his own will alone;

(d)permitting the seller or supplier to retain sums paid by the consumer where the latter decides not to conclude or perform the contract, without providing for the consumer to receive compensation of an equivalent amount from the seller or supplier where the latter is the party cancelling the contract;

(f)authorising the seller or supplier to dissolve the contract on a discretionary basis where the same facility is not granted to the consumer, or permitting the seller or supplier to retain the sums paid for services not yet supplied by him where it is the seller or supplier himself who dissolves the contract;

(j)enabling the seller or supplier to alter the terms of the contract unilaterally without a valid reason which is specified in the contract;

(k)enabling the seller or supplier to alter unilaterally without a valid reason any characteristics of the product or service to be provided;

(m)giving the seller or supplier the right to determine whether the goods or services supplied are in conformity with the contract, or giving him the exclusive right to interpret any term of the contract;.

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Gates Horns

Can you spell "class action"?

Surely if the product keys were part of the conditions of the Technet licence when it was purchased, changing the number of keys means changing the product. Since the sale constitutes a contract, surely anyone who has already paid can sue M$ for breach of contract?

This sounds to me like a move that was - at best - ill thought out, and at worst, disastrously brain-damaged, if not actually criminal in many legislations.

Silly, silly Microsoft. This is one that they might be likely to end up regretting...

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Stop

its Micro$haft.....

it's Microshaft, it may not be legal but do they care? not one jot. Who is going to take them on? Another class action in the USA where some lawyer gets rich, microsoft lawyers get richer and ten years from now tech net subscribers get a 10% refund on 2010 subscription fees.

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FAIL

I am not very happy about this

A very terse email is going to be sent...I won't be renewing. This is another reason to move to a Linux distro....being on the receiving Microshaft's end of "sharp" business practices.

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Grenade

Ok this is bullshit...

Very few stories on El Reg directly affect me, especially ones about changes to terms of Service and so on, so i usually laugh them off. This one however pissed me off instantly and completely*.

My technet subscription expires the end of next month, i'll have to weigh very seriously whether i'm going to renew it or not.

The subscriber downloads and product keys are the only reason to subscribe to technet, without those the service is useless, less than useless. the only other useful benefit possibly is the 2 free support incidents per year. i say possibly useful because i dont actually use my support incidents, i have yet to come across a situation that i've had to call MS support, i pride myself on that, i dread the day when a situation arrives that i've exhausted all my options and resources to the point that i feel i must make that phone call, it'll probably mark the beginning of the end of my IT days./

The service offers nothing else really, yippu yippy you get 3 elearning courses per quarter, most of the ones offered are retarded, and thier nothing i cant find for free thanks to my little friends over at demonoid.

I think fair is fair, you cut my product keys in half, i'll be cutting my payment in half? that would work out fine for me, but i highly doubt they'll go for that...

*Dear Moderatrix, my derived anger is not directed at El Reg, but at the contents of the article, and at microsoft directly, so it wont be necessary to reject this comment, thank you...

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Bronze badge
WTF?

Prices still the same I bet

How does removing half or 8/10 keys improve security exactly? Anyone? I'd be more inclined to believe they got tired of people legally buying a subscription then (grey area here) selling keys to friends and family at a vastly reduced price. Unfortunately for Microsoft they've effectively made the program useless and changing the terms with no notice will likely cost them due to contract breaches. I bet they won't be offering subscribers 50% of the money back or 80% in the other cases.

The only security improvement from this is the security of money for less than they agreed to supply.

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not a grey area at all

it's not any kind of grey area; technet downloads are supposed to be used for IT staff testing deployments, not for general purpose use. and unlike the exact number of keys you get for each individual product (which is NOT specified in the contract or T's & C's), the "testing only" restriction is quite clear

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Microsoft's response

I have contacted MS concierge team about this and they are telling me I can use each key up to 10 times for activating windows so I only need 2 keys to allow installs to up to 20 computers. Does allowing multiple activations for single product keys not actually increase piracy?

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Gates Horns

almost

And just a couple weeks ago I was thinking, i should go on and get more keys. I didn't and now I am out of keys to pull. I will be calling and requesting compensation of some sort, extra account, maybe free renewal in hopes they MIGHT come out with something decent this year.

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Anonymous Coward

I've been expecting this...

Technet has been a "secret" for years. All the techies getting almost zero cost on almost all of Microsoft's software packages. Face it, pay for basically one single package and get ALL of it! What's not to love. But recently, the internet's been a-buzz about this service, I'm sure sales have skyrocketed for Technet. You had to expect them to slim down the offerings so as to not sell out too much. It was just too good of a deal to last. It is really still a good deal though. One small price for everything? You have to admit it's the cheapest ticket for Microsoft goods you can get, even after the slimdown.

I wonder if the other services got affected too? MSDN? I forget the other "small business tech" service similar to TechNet, but it probably got hit too.

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FAIL

Will they refund 50% of the fee?

Just used the subscription management page to ask them to reinstate the original number of licenses or give me half my money back. Won't be holding my breath whilst I wait to visit the small claims court.

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Paris Hilton

Hardly a stretch to hit MAPS next

I can imagine that Action Pack subscribers might be next. Although, we generally receive multiple-activation keys, and not separate keys for most products.

A couple of years ago Microsoft unveiled new requirements for sales qualifications in order to renew or purchase an Action Pack subscription. I see how it is intended to help boost sales by training, and there is a plethora of sales-oriented crap in there which, quite honestly, most techs like myself not only abhor but simply do not have the time for the marketing "yay, Microsoft" aspect of it and use the MAPS to train us to support its (broken) software.

I made it clear that I would NOT participate in the sales qualifications as I was too busy to bother with them as I was selling and supporting Microsoft products on a daily basis. I barely have time to make angry phone calls about hoops through which I have to jump to sore my product.

Paris, multiple activiations... aw, yeah.

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WTF?

Kicked in the teeth

Why? Anti-piracy? Windows activation is bad enough, but this is ridiculous - we are paying professionals. We PAID for these keys. Why punish us?

My career is founded on Microsoft tech, but that doesn't mean I like it. Every day it gets a little bit harder to be a Microsoft professional.

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Happy

Bwhaaaaa

This is why I switched to Linux. WGA came in, I went out.

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FAIL

Switch?

I'll be switching to ReactOS when it goes gold. Too bad that wouldn't happen for a few more years. Which is a shame.

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WTF?

Dat Gummit!

Well my TechNet sub comes up in March, and I'll not be renewing due to this dirty deed.

PIsses me off because I did NOT abuse the system.

I was tempted to rush into the license store day 1 of my sub and click request license 10 times on every edition of every product even though I could never pilot them all just to dump to a spread sheet for retention in case.....but I didn't I only used a few licenses for things I was running in the lab / test environment, and now the terms change & we get screwed.

Nice.

If the backlash causes a temporary reversal, I will have learned from my mistake and take the appropriate actions to secure all the benefits that were allegedly conferred to me upon subscription inception.

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Anonymous Coward

I just noticed by re-reading.

10 each is now 5 each. That's a negative exponent. Exponents seem to be used to lie about debt by governments also.. It might even mistakenly be thought of as a good thing, until you start getting big numbers.

Sure the USER with 10ea won't see the big numbers.

Microsoft is the one who see's the big numbers

Start with 100,000,000 users with 10ea, then divide by 2

Because the numbers aren't used is no excuse to cut them off.

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Stop

Before we start...

... pissing and moaning about how Microsoft ripped us off, has anybody actually called Microsoft and requested a full or partial refund?

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I've mailed them...

I am writing to you with respect to my Technet subscription.

Without prior notice or indeed any kind of communication it appears that you have changed the terms of my subscription insofar as you have reduced the number of software keys I have access to from 10 to 2 for most packages. Given that I paid a substantial amount of money on the basis and understanding that I have access to 10 (not 2) this constitutes a change and a breach of contract in the UK. This unduly affects my ability to make use of the subscription that I purchased it for - software testing.

I am very unhappy with this state of affairs and respectfully request that you re-instate my subscription to the original extent for which I paid.

Yours Sincerely,

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Happy

Because they can...

Wow what a great way to alienate you most loyal fans.

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Hmmm....wondered where they got to....

Only just subscribed to Tech Net Professional and then a few weeks later wondered where the number of available keys had got to. This explains it. Really pissed that this was done without any notification or real justification.

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Pint

Ha ha!

About time! I'm getting fed up of these morons on forums everytime there is a discussion about some new MS gizmo, "Yeah well I don't pay full price for anything, I pay 50p a year and get the entire MS back catalogue from TechNet!". Well bully for you!

Finally something to shut the smug gits up and stop them conning practically free software and giving it to their mates, while the rest of us have to pay full price for our software!

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WTF?

Oh dear...

So Billy has pulled a Jobs and moved goal posts eh? Did you lot even read the agreements you were signing up to, you know the bit you skimmed over in your desperate attempt to get the free MS toys? You know the bit with all the words and the phrase buried in there somewhere that says something like, "Billy's toys so Billy gets to make the rules! MS reserves the right to bend you over and exact it's pound of flesh and you can have some token free stuff if you behave like good little fanbois and pray at the church of Bill and Ballmer."?

All the ones saying they will dump their subscriptions, phooey! Will you heck! No more than the Jobsian mob took their iPhones back then the hoo-ha about the aerial surfaced! You still see bucket loads of iPhone 4s about, despite all the hoo-ha. You will still be good little MS drones and sign up for more next year, because even if it's less, it's still better than spending full whack on the products you need or want to pay for. Where else you going to get all those fun toys for 200 sovs a year?

All full of indignant rage, but when it comes down to it, just like the Job's Zealots and the Penguinistas, we all love the products we love and will always go back to them no matter how we get treated!

Me I will stick with my trusty ZX Spectrum, as Sir Clive is now too senile to bother telling me what to do!

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