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back to article Microsoft's murder most foul: TechNet is dead

The end of TechNet Subscriptions is upon us. Let's take a moment to digest this, shall we? TechNet subscriptions were a cheap way to get access to virtually the entire Microsoft library of software for the purposes of building and maintaining a testlab environment. The cost ranged from $200 to $600 a year, and when combined …

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Linux

Now is the time?

before we move from "customer" to "hostage."

This is just the latter stage of boiling a frog, it started with XP's "product activation" and the same thing moved to all of their products.

The move towards "higher margins" via cloud-based subscription lock-in, the means of screwing more out of its customers is no real surprise, as they can see the desktop market and OEM fees under serious pressure now, added to the lack of any real incentive for upgrades. Machines are fast enough for most user's needs, and other than fixing dumb security holes, what is there *new* in most OS to justify the pain and cost of migration?

This sort of move is not going to help MS in the long run, but I can't really say I care much.

<= Tux! Not perfect, but my choice because at least I have the freedom to use it as I please, and to modify and improve it should I have the ability or time to do so.

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Re: Now is the time?

Once again, Microsoft proves they are run by an idiot. Just when I think Microsoft couldn't get any dumber, they prove me wrong. When you make it more expensive to use your products, people will either pirate or move on. I don't plan on pirating, I plan on protesting and moving on.

TechNet allowed me to get the disc for most Microsoft products without having to buy each individual product. You don't know how valuable a service that is. And now they are taking that away. TechNet allowed me to learn Microsoft products which, in turn, led me to recommend those products because I know how to use them and thus can help you use them. Now ...

I can promise you this: I am going to start recommending LibreOffice for all but a few people. Microsoft is screwing the golden goose. I can test LibreOffice for free, soon I won't be able to Microsoft Office for free. And that means I won't be recommending Office. There ain't nobody immune to repeat blunders. Sooner, not later, such stupidity will catch up Microsoft.

I do plan on sending Microsoft a polite email telling them how stupid this is. Considering how little Microsoft listens of late, I doubt it will do any good.

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Re: Now is the time? @Wade

The issue from my perspective isn't so much about Office, but about MS's catalogue of Enterprise products that don't get so much press, where, as Trevor alludes to, setting up a realistic environment to support a meaningful evaluation scenario as permitted under TechNet Ts&Cs, takes time.

Also the 30~180 day licences prevent you from building reference components, for example I have a couple of VM's that implement a PKI certificate service on AD, that only get pulled out when I'm playing around with WiFi kit to confirm all will play nicely.

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Re: Now is the time?

If anything they should be lessening the cost of these things in order to get people on board - that's how you get your market share, encourage usage amongst the dev/IT crowd by allowing them to setup and play with all manner of configs that can be persisted and re-used. Just think, you setup some infrastructure, start coding an app that you want to sell or make publicly available and sooner or later that's going to result in sales. This is dumb. Oracle got its market through ability but retained it largely through lock-in. You can tell its desperation to stop its decline through purchases like Sun which went oh-so-well. If that's the route MS wants to take then so be it, but it isn't a smart move.

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Windows

Re: Now is the time?

"This is just the latter stage of boiling a frog, it started with XP's "product activation" and the same thing moved to all of their products."

Indeed. This is exactly why I shifted my career focus way back in 2002. Up to that point Linux was just some weird OS that I knew nothing about.

Then XP arrived. I persisted with Win2K for a while but then one day, sometime in 2003 I think it was, I downloaded Redhat 7 and within 12 months I was virtually Windows free. I could see back then where that product activation malarkey was leading to and I did not like it one bit.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Now is the time?

"When you make it more expensive to use your products, people will either pirate or move on"

Erm, well they are not making it more expense to USE the products. They are making it necessary to buy licenses for LONG TERM 'TESTING'. You will get 90 days for free.

And have you tried pirating Windows 8 or Server 2012? It's pretty much impossible now with the trusted boot level security and activation checks. And best you have to re-activate it every 60 days. There are no more OEM BIOS keys. Every key is now tied to the individual hardware.

As to 'move on' - there are no cheaper options for the vast majority of Microsoft's products unless your time is free, or you are happy with a vastly inferior solution....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Now is the time?

"I am going to start recommending LibreOffice "

Good luck with that in the real world. It might suit some home users, but it is laughable inadequate in the enterprise.

" I can test LibreOffice for free, soon I won't be able to Microsoft Office for free"

Not true - you will still be able to evaluate Office for free:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/evalcenter/jj192782.aspx?wt.mc_id=TEC_136_1_4

If you havn't seen Office 2013 yet, it's worth the download just to see the amazing Microsoft streaming installer technology. Launch it without Office installed, and it will be a running application in about a minute while the application continues to install in the background...

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Re: Now is the time?

Hey, Anonymous Coward, um...

...yeah, I'm okay with a vastly inferior solution. Let me try to put this bluntly: I can run my business of Windows XP and Office 2003. I sure as shit can run it off Linux.

Is Microsoft's software superior in many respects to what Open Source has to offer? Yes. Does that matter any more? No. I don't need to be able to build a fucking hosted Azure solution to run a business. I'm fine with stuff that's 5-10 years behind the curve.

You know when we hit 2005 and CPU speed just stopped mattering? Well guess what: we've hit that with OSes and productivity suites too. The Enterprise world can careen ahead needing to be up-to-date simply because everyone else is up-to-date.

I'm fucking done with it. Seems like more than a few'll join me.

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Re: Now is the time?

Question - and a serious one - that I think needs answering: what exactly does Office 2013 offer me that LibreOffice doesn't? I mean, besides FUD?

They say everyone only uses 20 features of Office, but everyone uses a different 20 features. I cannot believe for a moment that LibreOffice has all of the features of Office, but I am willing to bet that it has the "20 features" that 80% of the productivity-suite using people of this world want.

LibreOffice doesn't have to be better than Office 2013. It doesn't even have to be "as good." It just has to be "good enough."

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Re: Now is the time?

"...what exactly does Office 2013 offer me that LibreOffice doesn't?"

Outlook.

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Re: Now is the time?

Yep; I used to think that way. Then I realised someone made Thunderbird stock sucking. As soon as I grokked that addons worked the same as Firefox I was set. Is it "as good in all ways" as Outlook? No. Is it "good enough" not that Microsoft is hellbent on getting rid of shared calendars and public folders as Outlook items? Yes.

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Re: Now is the time?

hear hear

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Re: Now is the time?

As it stands, if I replaced Office with LibreOffice I would get away with minimal grumbling but if I switched them from Outlook to Thunderbird I'd have a user revolt. In the future, as more of them use other endpoints, that may change.

For me though, our membership & accounts system is a bigger hurdle. There are viable alternatives (CiviCRM for one) but until I reach a point where I can justify the switching cost we're stuck with it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Now is the time?

If you havn't seen Office 2013 yet, it's worth the download just to see the amazing Microsoft streaming installer technology.

Yup. Seen it. Never seen a Microsoft tool so thoroughly butcher a stable system.

Oh, and we had an Office Mac we tried Office 365 on. Having seen the alternative NOT work, the girl that uses it is now very happy with LibreOffice. We only ever use the one copy of Office to clean up output that goes to clients in crapX format, but as most of our output is PDF it seems we've been given one more argument to move to Macs completely (software licensing costs is another argument). And some Linux boxes - seems a sensible way to recycle the desktops.

Having said that, we're a small shop. It's probably quite hard to change for an Enterprise and risk getting efficient.. :)

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Linux

Re: Now is the time?

"""And have you tried pirating Windows 8 or Server 2012? It's pretty much impossible now with the trusted boot level security and activation checks."""

LOL!

No it is not, it is even easier than before.

The question is what is the point to INSIST on using Windows, it is overly complex and requires way too many servers to do anything. For example each time Microsoft produces a new version of Exchange it needs more and more servers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Now is the time?

"...what exactly does Office 2013 offer me that LibreOffice doesn't?"

Outlook.

That may change very shortly, actually. The single thing that Outlook offers is integration - people LIVE in Outlook (and build up ginormous mailboxes :( ).

Apple thoroughly missed a chance there, because if they had been able to offer an Outlook replacement that actually talked Open Standards like almost everything else OSX does it would have chewed up a serious chunk of Microsoft's base, but no, they had to create separate and frankly idiotic looking applications which are anything but integrated (try changing a birthday, for example).

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Thumb Up

Not Outlook

I am retired now, but at my last job, my boss migrated our Outlook to a Google Mail service, which seems to do a lot for us, and we no longer need an Exchange server -- all good.

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Re: Now is the time? [@ AC 8:08]

"Good luck with that in the real world. It might suit some home users, but it is laughable inadequate in the enterprise."

That was true three years ago (yesyesyes when it was OpenOffice). Not so now. Most small enterprise functions can be accommodated nicely inside OO/OL. If you care to troll through the archives you'll find I've always been pretty demanding with this software, and dismissive of it when it fell short.

The database still needs work to be as easy and flexible as Access is (stop screaming everyone. Not everyone needs a poly-phase commit clustered database with point-of-failure journaling FFS) but the spreadsheet is a good match for excel (except for the stupid decision to make the user learn different keyboard habits than everyone else +dog has been using since Visicalc) and the word processor is easily capable of most moderately complex tasks. The integration between the pieces has been tightened considerably and as a result the software is ready for most small businesses prime time as is.

"If you havn't seen Office 2013 yet, it's worth the download just to see the amazing Microsoft streaming installer technology. "

This isn't germane to the discussion. Enterprises are used to having to wait a few minutes for an install to be done, and it's a one-shot deal anyway.

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Re: Now is the time?

"TechNet allowed me to get the disc for most Microsoft products without having to buy each individual product. You don't know how valuable a service that is."

It is quite easy to know the cost of something, but value is mostly guesstimated. Which does not fly well with beancounters.

Now, however, a proper test shall be done. Offending cost is eliminated, corresponding value drop becomes measurable, and some completely wrong conclusions can be drawn.

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Re: Now is the time? [@ Trevor_Pott

Well, my copy keeps insisting on bottom quoting which is annoying beyond reason since world+dog+dog's friends use top quoting. It fucks up e-mail chains no end, and cannot be changed without hacking into configuration files. There should be a simple way to change this beyond stupid behaviour on the user interface, but I suspect someone's agenda is getting in the way.

(Nothing people complain about with top-quoting is fixed by bottom quoting either. Stupidly stupid to Carve It In Stone).

Also, the default mode is to sort all mailslots (aka folders) with the newest entries at the bottom. Another fucktard decision. Every time the software is installed or upgraded seriously, it reverts to this annoying and unhelpful behaviour. An extension of "bottom quoting is best" thinking, no doubt, but at least it can be changed. One folder at a time.

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Happy

Re: Now is the time?

"Launch it without Office installed, and it will be a running application in about a minute while the application continues to install in the background..."

Who gives a shit?

Anyone that much of a hurry to start writing a letter? Hell, install LinuxMint in 15 mins and it includes LibreOffice pre-installed. Windows8, Office 2013, XBO can suck a dead horse.

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Re: Now is the time? [@ Trevor_Pott

@Stevie: we set up preferences we liked (those that were the most Outlook-like) and simply pushed them out with Puppet and/or logon scripts to set up customer systems. Works a treat!

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Re: You don't know how valuable a service that is.

Actually, they do - that's why they are replacing it with a more expensive option.

But they've miscalculated on your ability to pay for it.

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Windows

Re: Now is the time?

""...what exactly does Office 2013 offer me that LibreOffice doesn't?"

Outlook."

You say that like it's a Good Thing....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Now is the time?

Don't think Server 2012 has a problem. (Can use SLIC 2.2 to activate it just like Windows 7).

UEFI bioses are slightly more difficult to patch permanently but a patch that is active until you reflash the bios is trivially easy to do.

Think there are less SLIC2.2 bins (Only two last time I looked).

Occasionally there are things you can do to get free Dreamspark 2012 keys. (Legitimately acquired by joining online courses in poor countries). Shouldn't be using those sort of tricks for a business though.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Now is the time?

Hah hah, it offers a userbase of more than 7 people globally.......

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Re: Now is the time?

"Question - and a serious one - that I think needs answering: what exactly does Office 2013 offer me that LibreOffice doesn't? I mean, besides FUD?"

Ooo ooo ooo, I know - probably another undocumented fucking file structure with a few pointless inclusions to make it incompatible with everything on the planet bar the latest Office version. Given the 365 creation it ain't hard to see where this is headed for corporates. Slow bleed like a cut that just won't heal.

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Re: we no longer need an Exchange server -- all good.

The Microsoft Exchange-Outlook pairing of products was the only one I ever liked, circa 2003. It fully integrated Mail, Calendar, faxing and voicemail for our company. Even today GMail can't touch it. We've recently moved our government organization from an ancient unix system to GMail. Yes, it solved the mail "storage" issue, but the calendaring issues are horrible even compared to the inferior Oracle system we had been using.

If MS solved the problem of people using mail as their primary document storage mechanism, even the problem of "ginourmous sized" mailboxes would go away.

That said, it sounds like MS has already started sabotaging that product pairing.

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Re: Now is the time? [@ Trevor_Pott

Sound to me like a user issue, not a Thunderbird one.

I easily configured mine for top quoting with my signature under the reply. All my mail comes into a single folder from which I sort it into storage folders. So on the rare occasion of a completely new install, a single click fixes the date order. Given that I frequently opt to sort on other fields this really isn't an issue. And none of my changes has ever been reconfigured on upgrade. I can't say the same thing for all the MS updates I've done, although they are much improved on that point.

I suspect that if I could be arsed to look through the documentation I could write a script to deploy it with a different set of defaults, but it's never been sufficiently troublesome to spend the time.

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Re: Now is the time?

Well it's a thing certainly...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Now is the time?

If you havn't seen Office 2013 yet, it's worth the download just to see the amazing Microsoft streaming installer technology.

Unless it's broken. In which case it is one hell of a pain to fix. Just look at all the Microsoft fans telling Redmond that they should remove that "embarrassing pile of crap" until it's actually reasonably reliable.

2 weeks ago I preferred MS Office over the alternatives. Couple of support cases with MSO2013 and I now recommend corporates go elsewhere for their office needs. 2013 just isn't ready for the desktop, and may not be for a long time. It will cost them too much in lost time if they put that pre-alpha program on their systems.

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Devil

Re: Now is the time?

>> "I am going to start recommending LibreOffice "

>

> Good luck with that in the real world. It might suit some home users, but it is laughable inadequate in the enterprise.

I have been a successful stealth OpenOffice user in some of the largest corporations on this planet.

The necessity of any particular brand of spreadsheet or word processor has always been grossly overinflated.

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Devil

Re: Now is the time?

>>"...what exactly does Office 2013 offer me that LibreOffice doesn't?"

>

> Outlook.

You're back to the same 80% problem. 80% of the users really don't have to care about Outlook.

It's mainly persistent FUD that keeps Microsoft products alive.

Helping to destroy this perception has been one of the nice side effect of the rise of tablets.

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Icon shift/shaft?

When, and more importantly, why did the icon move from the left to top-right of the comments?

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Childcatcher

Re: Icon shift/shaft?

It's the creeping arabisation of the whole of the UK. They WANT you to read from right to left!!

Get me the BNP on the phone!!

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Re: Icon shift/shaft?

Change for the sake of it.

"Ooo now, let's see. We have to change something. That silly billy icon has been on the left for sooo long it's boring, darling."

"Yes, let's put it....................there."

"No, I want it there."

"I said it first, it's going there."

"OK but only if we then move it to the middle bottom, where I wanted it, next week."

"Next week? We can't leave something unchanged for so long!"

"Anyway sweetie, what about implementing my improvement of reversing the text and having it change colour at random."

"Ooooo, you're so "last year" darling."

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Re: Icon shift/shaft?

"When, and more importantly, why did the icon move from the left to top-right of the comments?"

To prepare the way for The Register Ribbon of course.

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"Register Ribbon"

Yes. The staff would be in ribbons by the time I was done with them, were that to be introduced...

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Mushroom

My subscription for this year became active on the 30th of June. Bar Stewards.

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And it will work for one year - you'll get everything you paid for. TechNet isn't closing per se on 31 August - Microsoft just won't be selling any new subscriptions from that date.

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Windows

IF you reside in the UK, you have 14 days to cancel a service/contract... From the day that service starts, not when you purchase it.

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Anonymous Coward

The Distance Selling stuff is for business to consumer transactions only though isn't it? (Correction welcome)

Most Technet sales would be to businesses wouldn't they? Businesses are supposed to have a clue before purchasing stuff, and therefore don't need so much legislation to protect them.

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"Most Technet sales would be to businesses wouldn't they? "

You'd be wrong. Which is sort of why everyone is so up in arms.

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Anonymous Coward

""Most Technet sales would be to businesses wouldn't they? "

You'd be wrong. Which is sort of why everyone is so up in arms."

Yes and no.

A one man contractor/consultant buying a tool for business purposes does not, afaik, get the benefit of consumer protection laws because it is not a consumer transaction. IANAL, seek professional advice.

On a more general point, I do see why so many folk are up in arms. But with the greatest respect, the Certified Microsoft Dependent ecosystem should have seen this coming before now - there have been plenty of warning signs.

And on a more personal note: Trevor, take a holiday, Real Soon Now. You'll feel better for it, even if the bank manager won't. And your articles will hopefully continue to be as good as we've grown to expect; you're one of the few remaining reasons I bother with this site. You're obviously pretty peeved at the moment, understandably. But I really like the idea of you writing about you getting over your MS addiction, whether you do it here (which might be tricky for the advertising department) or elsewhere.

Normally I wouldn't stoop so low as to say this, but rules are to be broken:

"Keep calm and carry on.. migrating off MS".

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A) I was referring to systems administrators who work for companies too poor or too cheap to pay for things like technet, training and so forth. There are millions of them around the world and this is a knife in their belly. Those men and women are my brethren and sistren. Until only just recently I was one of them; no consulting company of my own, no budget beyond asking myself "do I buy a steak or put a few more dollars into the pot for the tools I need to do my job."

Apologists can condescend them all you want, or suggest that their employers should pay but reality doesn't comply whit the fantasies of those who set licensing policies. This is a direct attack on people like me; it is Microsoft saying that those who have spent their careers and lives doing what I have done are irrelevant, inconvenient, and above all guilty unless proven innocent.

I'll not stand idly by whilst one of the only groups of people in this world I can readily identify with is maligned, marginalized and shamed.

B) For your information, this article was written during the only weekend off I've taken in a year. It was the only weekend I've had to see my wife in two months. She's on location on an acting job and I won't get to see her for at least another two months. So I was on vacation. Some things are more important than my own personal amusement.

C) I don't have an MS addiction. I've been using Red Hat since late 1994 and have had periods of only a few months since 1995 when I wasn't running a network somewhere consisting of Red Hat, Apple and Microsoft.

Technology is technology, regardless of the purveyor. I disconnect my feelings regarding business practices from my respect for the technology produced. Microsoft makes good tech. They make shitty people.

Your understanding of the situation - and why so many are upset here - is at best incomplete at worst flat out wrong. What's more, hiding behind legalities like "consumer protection laws" as a means of trivializing the challenges this move has introduced into the lives of so many is simply offensive. It's easy to blithely demand people pay more, change the world around them to be more like you desire or simply write them off when they lack the power, authority or money to make others choose differently.

It is a different thing entirely to live in that world for decades. Perhaps you should. You might learn a thing or two about compassion and why the intersection of business and ethics needs be a primary concern not something we can allow to be overshadowed by the trumpets and drums of quarterly profits.

There is nobody in this industry you can trust. If sycophants of any flavour are your desire then bang on the desk until Eadon is given a forth-covered Pengiunskin soapbox and go read Ed Bott for a dose of truly singular Redmondian butt snorkling.

Me, I'll be as objective as I can and I"ll review any technology that crosses my path or interests me. My focus however, will always be on the SME. Someone has to, because our entire industry is focused on "being on message" where "being on message" means "captivating the enterprise buyer."

So try to understand my full meaning when I say that SME sysadmins are my fucking tribe and I will defend them to the bitter end. Even if all I can do in their defence is loose words upon the ether.

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Re: but reality doesn't comply with the fantasies of those who set licensing policies.

Here, here!

I don't personally operate at the SME contractor level anymore, but was a low level tech for one for a number of years. Even from the money grubbing perspective this decision doesn't make sense. Yes it might net them a few bucks over the very short term, but somewhere between a year and three out it has to hit them hard. You've pointed out real problems for businesses trying to build test environments. Another issue is that MS, more than any else out there, depends on "amateurs" who can't afford to pay extortionate training rates spending time working with the software to work up to "professional" levels and then delivering that service.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm really struggling to see their rationale for this.

As you say, Trevor, without us - the consultants, engineers and sysadmins, pushing their products and buying into their new technology (whatever your opinion on how much or little is 'new') then MS lose their ground troops.

Like many of my colleagues, I've long since passed the point where a course provided by a big player is a perk of the job and is a pain in the backside that eats into my valuable working time. That means the only way I can keep properly up to date is in my own lab environment.

You say they don't care but at some point they're going to have to.

Because the sysadmins coming up through the ranks today don't have any kind of the brand loyalty that MS seem to believe they've now got all stitched up. These guys will use whatever fills the requirement. And guess what, MS? If you slam the door on them now, you have just said that they may as well look elsewhere. And they will.

Piracy to a large extent helped you deliver your PC in every home message in the 90's.

But there were zero viable alternatives.

Wake up boys because these days there really are. At every level and for pretty much every market.

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>>> I'm really struggling to see their rationale for this

No doubt they're hoping that all those people who use TechNet licence keys on production servers will now cough up for a "proper" licence.

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>> I'm really struggling to see their rationale for this.

It's simple, and the article spells it out explicitly: Microsoft have recognized that they have lost their monopoly position, and so in order to ensure their future survival, they are changing business strategies to concentrate on large enterprises--the ones that have the money. This is the same strategy Oracle took, ignoring the SME and hobbyist, and focusing on the big bucks.

Supporting small to medium businesses does not pay the bills--certainly not any enterprise that counts its pennies so much that it feels the need to "cheat" by using trial licenses for actual lab and deployment testing. That won't do, and Microsoft needs to let to of any "dead weight" that does not add to the bottom line.

I'm not saying it is the correct strategy. However, it is not wrong either. It is just a realization by MS that they just can't do whatever they want anymore--they need to focus on making money and guaranteeing their future success.

dZ.

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