Windows

Why a TechNet subscription is worth the investment

A test environment for Windows Server systems is essential to delivering the right solution. Here's a tool that you can use to practice your Windows skills.
Author's note: Since the original publication of this article, I changed all of the TechNet Plus references to read TechNet. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

One of the main reasons why I'm successful as a Windows Server administrator is because I use a test environment. I maintain a small private test lab at home, where I make extensive use of virtual machines and evaluation software.

Evaluation software is nice because, in most situations, it is fully functional. In my home lab, the biggest obstacle with evaluating various software is using licensed Windows Server installations. I have firm rules not to mix licensing from work and home, so I need a solution for the Windows Server product line. The Microsoft TechNet subscription has been the answer for me to further my Windows Server skills in a licensed fashion and eliminate the burden of the expiration of evaluation installations. The TechNet subscription also allows me to run other Microsoft products, including SQL, Exchange, and more.

A TechNet subscription gives you a product catalog where you can download product installation files or a higher-level plan will ship out installation media to you directly. The subscription allows you to have a correctly licensed vehicle to pursue your certification goals, learn new products, or maintain a private lab.

Figure A shows the online portal for my TechNet subscription. Figure A

Click the image to enlarge.

The TechNet Direct subscription is $349, and the TechNet Single User subscription is $599. Through March 31, 2010, Microsoft is offering a 28% discount on the TechNet Direct subscription (use promotional code TNWIN7L). See the TechNet site for full terms and conditions. Additional discounts may be available by purchasing a TechNet Plus subscription through a channel partner or reseller channel.

For my personal lab, the TechNet subscription has been a lifesaver. I inquired about purchasing a single per-processor license for Windows Server Datacenter edition to take advantage of unlimited virtualization rights, but this is by far the way to go.

Disclosure: I received a discounted TechNet subscription from Microsoft.

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About

Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

14 comments
jjcanaday
jjcanaday

I've tried 4 times today and I keep getting a "We?re sorry, we are unable to process your order at this time." page at the final step. ...and why do I always get a question mark instead of an apostrophe at this site?? Edit 3/22: MS Credit Card processing must have been down Friday (3/19). My order went though today.

keithstern
keithstern

Thanks for the heads up. Code Worked for me, $271 with tax.

ljanderson
ljanderson

Code doesn't seem to take anything off either Plus or Direct subscription?

Marc Erickson
Marc Erickson

But some marketing pinhead at MS has decided to up the price by almost 65% if you want media as a part of it. I'm damn mad about that - I NEED media to fix my customers' software. Any of you doing on site service know how often it is that a customer can come up with the discs you need - RARELY. They couldn't come up with the product keys either until MS got smart and put it on a label affixed to the box for OEM ware. That saved me a lot of grief when it became common, but this boneheaded move to make MS Partners a profit centre burns my butt. MS marketing is coming here with a Partner Tour on the 18th. Your city may be in this list: http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/default.aspx?culture=en-CA#culture=en-CA;sortKey=;sortOrder=;pageEvent=false;kwdAny=partner%20tour;eventType=0;searchcontrol=yes;s=1 I'm planning to ask some pretty pointed questions that day! http://www.examiner.com/x-34009-Vancouver-Computers-Examiner~y2010m2d19-Microsoft-shafts-its-Partners

jmorgan75149
jmorgan75149

I was looking at the technet subscription and was wondering how many licenses you get per product. I know with the Microsoft Action Pack I think it is 10 licenses per products on most of them. Also does it add the new software once it gets released like office 2010 RTM?

ederkley
ederkley

The same promo code (TNWIN7L) works from the Aust Technet subscription pages as well. The cost for a new subscription is $AU 369 instead of $512.

greggib
greggib

The discount code fails for the Plus plan!

dryflies
dryflies

I just ordered my tchnetand there was a up to 28% promo code. the $349 subscription was $251

Beoweolf
Beoweolf

I?ve been a TechNet subscriber since I got my first MCP certification back in the "good ol' days". My company was smart enough to pay the subscription fees - my job was to find time to study, keep up my certification quest to match the various products our company used. It helped both the company, since at that time we were on task to convert our heterogeneous (Mixture of Novell, NT, various disto?s of UNIX, Exchange, send mail. Our equipment was an amalgamation which spanned the evolution of the company from a one man shop to a major player in the region. Our goal, which we achieved, was to bring the shop to an all Microsoft server environment. It was more stable, especially after installing Active Directory and easier to manage than anything on the market at the time. When I, finally, achieved MCSE status; they gave away a free one year subscription to TechNet, which I have renewed (funded by each subsequent employer or self-funded, when an employer couldn't be convinced) every years since. Soon after, I stepped up to TechNet Plus, having the CD/DVD?s sent to me monthly, was a great way to assist clients, customers and stay current as new product and specialized configurations (like SMB , Essential server, Sharepoint, Forefront ? etc. appeared). By the time our CEO or Board Members heard about the product, I had already ?played? with it at home, more often than not ? had done a limited development installation with a few adventurous Tech development staff groups. Nothing says value added than being able to have answers before the questions are asked. If you are not ahead of the curve, then you will be down in the trough and catching the next wave will be harder 'cause you may not recognize it until it is already on top of you.

TechRepublic
TechRepublic

For those of us out there that are one-man or very small shops that do application dev, you should look into MS BizSpark. Read the fine print, but if you qualify, you can get everything that comes in an MSDN subscription for three years for a one time fee of $100, and MS doesn't even collect it until the end of the term. If this program doesn't work out for you, TechNet is a great way to license all of your development machines and stay up to date on betas and late-breaking updates. Chris

sysop-dr
sysop-dr

I do some sysadmin but primarily I am a developer. I have found that Microsofts VS and MSDN and an MSDN Premium subscription works for me. I also maintain a set of testing environments in VMs on everything from my lug around laptop to my small cluster. Technet and MSDN both highly recommended, but don't stop there. I keep a co-linux redhat environment on my laptop as well. No sense keeping yourself tied to just one player in the field and knowing a little about *nix both admin and development makes you more marketable.

dan.brinegar
dan.brinegar

Don't forget you also get 2 free support calls a year from Microsoft. Saved us a few dollars!

l_creech
l_creech

A major difference exists between TechNet and Action Pack subscriptions. TechNet is only for use by the licensed subscriber in a non-production test environment. Action Pack is licensed for use in a production and demonstration environment. Action Pack is targeted primarily towards the smaller Mom and Pop type computer shops, allowing them to run their business with current software. Other differences include the software included in the subscription, Action Pack has far less in it; but can be a better value depending on your needs. I've personally done both, and find good value in both for their intended purposes.

john3347
john3347

WHAAAAAT?? The standard TechNet program is free. It is only the TechNet plus program that has access to the software and other perks that has a cost to begin with.

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