Display of incompetence...
I do agree with the author that it sure looks that Microsoft is going out of their way in search for more money because it indeed loses its monopoly position.
However, the way they do it shows how braindead they really are. These are dark times in my opinion. Because if you're losing the edge then I'd say the last thing you want to do is make yourself less popular. Instead focus on that part and make sure that people still want to use and sell your products.
To me TechNet wasn't merely a source of software for evaluation; it was a /constant/ source of software for evaluation on a wider range than merely the "latest and greatest". This is going to hurt them even more than they may realize I think.
What I mean with that?
My company is a Microsoft reseller. My core business is website hosting and in-house systems administration. At my home office I run Win7 and Office 2010. So what to do when I have a job coming up where a customer still runs XP and Office 2007 or 2003 and I need to prepare for something specific?
Then I download this software from TechNet, setup a test environment and prepare myself to working with the customers environment. I save the serials in OneNote and when I'm done the software gets removed again.
Obviously that is not going to work any more. The new evaluation centre only provides the latest software for, well, evaluation to determine if you're going to buy it or not. That's not what I'm doing; I'm using it to evaluate how a customer environment looks and feels and to prepare me for my job.
Not only doesn't that centre provide older (or current!) software; the time limit also makes it useless for me. I don't use software 180 days straight. But I might use it for 180 days in total, spread out over 2 or 3 years or so. But obviously that won't be possible: I imagine that once you start your evaluation the clock ticks for 180 days straight. And when it runs out you're done.
Its pathetic. You can't even grab Server 2008R2 from there, even though that is still quite a mainstream product.
The next "alternative" is the virtual labs. Evaluation online. "No need to install a thing". But like, that's exactly one of the aspects that I'm after: getting experience up-front so that I can somewhat prepare myself before going on-site where the customer pays by the hour.
This is going to cost Microsoft a lot more money than they bargained for I think.
Do you really think I'll continue to promote MS Office (2013) if I can no longer do any easy test runs myself (I'm still on 2010 myself and that's not going to change)?
I can see it now... "Sure, I can come over and set up MS Office for you. Let's see, that's going to take me at least 3 hours, excluding the price of Office. I know it sounds ridiculous; but I'll have to do all preparations on site. What's that? Making sure that your environment can actually /run/ Office 2013, I can no longer do this from here. Sorry. Yeah, at E 80/hours plus the software costs its going to get expensive, I know. What? Office 365? Nah, what I'd recommend is considering to get OpenOffice. It's a free office suite and one which I know will run on your environment because I already tested it myself. What? Nah, the software is free and I think I'll be done within the hour. Maybe 2 if you also want some instructions. Well, just look at it this way: the extra E 80,- for an hour of instructions is basically paid by what you're saving with not purchasing Office 2013, which costs much more than that. Yeah, it's fully compatible, no problems there.".
Does Microsoft really think I'll just tell my customers to get a subscription with them while there's still honest money to be made for myself? I don't think so.
Your loss Microsoft.