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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