Sheesh, when is it going to end? As if it wasn't enough that Microsoft annoyed millions of Windows fans with its latest OS (which it is now trying to correct), or that it seemed to care little about its loyal Xbox fanbase during the entire Xbone debacle - now, the company's decided to shutter one of its most popular services: TechNet.
TechNet was the perfect solution for those who wanted to evaluate Microsoft's impressive software portfolio without having to commit to an outright purchase. "Evaluate" is a loose term here, however, as the licenses given were in fact full-fledged. Many who required multiple licenses of Windows, for example, took advantage of TechNet because it proved cheaper for them over the long-run. Plus - apart from Windows, licenses for Office and Microsoft's other popular software could be had as well.
Microsoft's reasoning for this closure is as follows: "Microsoft is retiring the TechNet Subscriptions service to focus on growing its free offerings, including evaluation resources through the TechNet Evaluation Center, expert-led learning through the Microsoft Virtual Academy, and community-moderated technical support through the TechNet Forums to better meet the needs of the growing IT professional community."
The bold above is mine, because it highlights the ultimate reason for Microsoft's decision. However, despite that, it's leaving a lot of users out on the street. While Office has a free trial available, it doesn't last too long, and the same could be said about the company's other software, especially Visual Studio. 30 days may be suitable for a home user, but for a business owner looking to the future, it'll fly by quick. Plus, there's just no substitute to being able to evaluate a bunch of different software without having to deal with activation nag screens.
Unfortunately, no great solution exists for those who enjoyed a TechNet subscription. While pricing for the Standard TechNet subscription (lacks enterprise software) is $199/yr, MSDN, which also offers all of Microsoft's software, begins at $700 for the first year and $500 for each one after, and that's only for the operating systems. If you want access to all of Microsoft's software through an MSDN subscription, you'll be paying thousands annually - it's no longer for the home user, ultimately.
A sad day, to be sure, and yet another not-so-wise move by Microsoft to add to the list.