Microsoft adds more restrictions to MSDN/TechNet users [Update]

If you are a subscriber to Microsoft's MSDN and TechNet programs, get ready to be hit with more restrictions. Microsoft has announced plans to launch new policies on how users can access these two services. MSDN and TechNet are supposed to allow select business customers and software developers access to past and present Microsoft software product keys for an annual subscription fee.

ZDNet.com is reporting that these changes are being made in response to the influx of MSDN and TechNet product keys that are later resold to outsiders, along with pirated discs. One of the new restrictions will cut the number of product keys for current versions of Windows and Microsoft Office that MSDN subscribers can receive in half, from 10 to just five. MSDN subscribers will only get three product keys for older software versions.

MSDN and TechNet subscribers will also see the number of keys they will be able to claim per day cut down from 55 to 10. In addition, the new terms will eliminate access to all stand alone programs in the Microsoft Office suite, along with taking away access to older versions of Office. They will still be able to access the entire current Microsoft Office suite.

Finally, TechNet subscribers will no longer be able to use any programs from Microsoft if they decide not to renew their subscription. Previously, they were able to continue to use Microsoft programs they downloaded and used even if they stopped being a TechNet subscriber.

The new terms and policies are supposed to go into effect for current MSDN and TechNet users in a couple of weeks, according to the article.

Update: Microsoft has sent us a note saying that ZDNet.com's article was incorrect in terms of the number of keys MSDN and TechNet subscribers will be able to claim per day. We have changed the article to reflect the correct numbers.

Source: ZDNet.com

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73 Comments

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so....they take a way the software now? wow then it is just as subscription service. not a bad idea then. similar to adobe's creative cloud. but maybe they should market it as such instead of what it was.

neonspark said,
so....they take a way the software now? wow then it is just as subscription service. not a bad idea then. similar to adobe's creative cloud. but maybe they should market it as such instead of what it was.

They are taking away the standalone Office products. The rest of it stays.

Dan~ said,
Whats a stand alone office product? Is that like One Note, Project etc?

Access, InfoPath, Publisher,... yes.

ChopSuey said,
This just gives me another reason why I am switching to a Mac.

That makes less sense than that time I saw a Family Guy cutaway.

Since the old versions of office aka 2003 had a static activation (as in no online activation) I can see why they would want to axe these, especially with that converter update to allow opening the new office format.

That being said Liber/Open Office has the same functionality as Office 2003, and it's free / open source and received updates.

Jason Stillion said,
Since the old versions of office aka 2003 had a static activation (as in no online activation) I can see why they would want to axe these, especially with that converter update to allow opening the new office format.

That being said Liber/Open Office has the same functionality as Office 2003, and it's free / open source and received updates.


thats just 2, almost 3 versions behind MS office! darn

I don't think piracy would have been as rampant if their upgrading pricing historically was more in line with what they are planning with Windows 8

Same applies to Office.

I renewed a few months ago but don't plan on renewing again

While in the past people were getting a technet subscriptions to be used as their primary machine, it was also money Microsoft wouldn't have otherwise seen because the user would have just gone and pirated the OS. So at Least Microsoft was making SOME money!

I really don't see what the big deal is. MSDN and TechNet subscriptions aren't meant for everyday people to get access to as much Microsoft software as they can and install it on every PC they own; it's meant for evaluation/testing/developing/etc. Every one of you crying foul is all but admitting that you're using the licenses against their intended purpose.

Raa said,
Stupidest move tbh... They're going to alienate their customer base... again.

They are just forcing users to get the content in other ways.

soldier1st said,

They are just forcing users to get the content in other ways.

That's a load of crap and you know it. If you seriously think that changing an evaluation program's licensing terms is pushing people to piracy, you have zero credibility, and you should seriously rethink where your interest in technology is coming from.

So will the removal of perpetual use affect current subscribers, before we renew and agree to the new terms at that time?

Why don't they just deal with the troublemakers (the ones passing out keys illegally) and not punish everyone else? Would seem like a simple matter to trace the key back to the subscriber and cancel their account/possibly press charges.

AR556 said,
Why don't they just deal with the troublemakers (the ones passing out keys illegally) and not punish everyone else? Would seem like a simple matter to trace the key back to the subscriber and cancel their account/possibly press charges.

That would solve the problem.

Hang on, didn't they cut the number of product keys from 10 to 5 a long time ago? We've been running with only 5 keys on our corporate technet account for months now.

TCLN Ryster said,
Hang on, didn't they cut the number of product keys from 10 to 5 a long time ago? We've been running with only 5 keys on our corporate technet account for months now.

That was for Technet, not MSDN which they're now also cutting, the difference for Technet is that the products will now expire when your subscription does.

Ixion said,

That was for Technet, not MSDN which they're now also cutting, the difference for Technet is that the products will now expire when your subscription does.

Ahh I see. I wonder how that "expiry" will work though. Presumably that'll need you to have a different version of the software with that expiry feature built in, unless of course they just blacklist the key so you start getting "This copy of windows is not genuine" messages all over your PCs.

Ixion said,

That was for Technet, not MSDN which they're now also cutting, the difference for Technet is that the products will now expire when your subscription does.


When the sub expires, your keys should stay valid but for new keys, you would need renew to get new keys.

soldier1st said,

When the sub expires, your keys should stay valid but for new keys, you would need renew to get new keys.

Subscription implies that you need to keep paying to use the benefits the service provided. What you suggest is just selling keys - which they already do, you can buy a key in the store any time you want.

thank god i didn't renew my subscription earlier this year. technet is getting more and more unattractive. well, no more money from me, microsoft.

I stopped getting technet a long time ago - not worth it when I can get a copy of what i need for cheap thru student discounts and I know a bunch of students so ohh well for them!

MS has been tightening up this over the past few years - they should lwr the cost though. That being said, the "flexbility" has been abused by many too I assume.

I wouldn't mind but that's two years in a row they've changed the conditions after I've paid for the product, last year it was a reduction from 5 to 3 licenses for Technet Pro, and now that the products expire if I cancel my subscription, makes me angry.

Ixion said,
I wouldn't mind but that's two years in a row they've changed the conditions after I've paid for the product, last year it was a reduction from 5 to 3 licenses for Technet Pro, and now that the products expire if I cancel my subscription, makes me angry.

And why shouldn't they expire? You're no longer paying for that evaluation service, so why should you continue to have access to it?

So... will this deactivate Windows 7 licences from an expired Technet of over a year ago? or is this only moving forward?

I believe the new terms don't apply to you unless you renew.

That said, TechNet licenses have always been for evaluation purposes only. They don't really enforce this but if you're using it on a primary PC you are probably already breaking the license.

Aaron44126 said,
I believe the new terms don't apply to you unless you renew.

That said, TechNet licenses have always been for evaluation purposes only. They don't really enforce this but if you're using it on a primary PC you are probably already breaking the license.


They should relax the license a bit to be more flexable.

soldier1st said,

They should relax the license a bit to be more flexable.

NO, they shouldn't.
You knew what you were agreeing to when you signed up. Bitching about it is just asinine.

This is just getting out of hand.

When I joined TechNet it was 10 per product, then 5, now 3. Now if I don't upkeep my subscription they few keys I do get will be void?

All the while the cost does not change. I think this is finally sealing the deal. MY TechNet expires in a week and I am not renewing.

necrosis said,
This is just getting out of hand.

When I joined TechNet it was 10 per product, then 5, now 3. Now if I don't upkeep my subscription they few keys I do get will be void?

All the while the cost does not change. I think this is finally sealing the deal. MY TechNet expires in a week and I am not renewing.

Blame the people selling MSDN/TechNet keys online, not MS.

zeke009 said,
Blame the people selling MSDN/TechNet keys online, not MS.

Actually, blame the users/corps who raise the cost/restrictions to unreasonable amounts.

soldier1st said,

Actually, blame the users/corps who raise the cost/restrictions to unreasonable amounts.

You keep saying corps over and over again. Corps corps corps. What are you even talking about? You say it like it's a dirty word, which really just makes you come across lacking in credibility a bit.

That's exactly what they're doing. They are killing the activation on the serial number after the account has gone inactive.

This too will be the last time I ever buy a technet subscription.

So in other words, you currently aren't using TechNet/MSDN in the environment intended. YOU, sir, are part of the reason that MS is doing this.

My issue though is that wasn't the terms when I signed up so it should only go into effect on the next renewal - so I can give them an earful when they call me.

Finally, TechNet subscribers will no longer be able to use any programs from Microsoft if they decide not to renew their subscription. Previously, they were able to continue to use Microsoft programs they downloaded and used even if they stopped being a TechNet subscriber.

How can they enforce this? The installation key and activation isn't connected with a specific subscription, is it? That would be wonky if I had to reinstall Windows after my subscription expired and found that the key would no longer work.

devHead said,

How can they enforce this? The installation key and activation isn't connected with a specific subscription, is it? That would be wonky if I had to reinstall Windows after my subscription expired and found that the key would no longer work.

The keys are tagged MSDN in their system and is also linked to the account that generated it. If the account expires they can just simply invalidate all attached keys so they no longer work.

devHead said,

How can they enforce this? The installation key and activation isn't connected with a specific subscription, is it? That would be wonky if I had to reinstall Windows after my subscription expired and found that the key would no longer work.

I was wondering this as well. If they know that a given key belongs to me, or you, or anyone else, then why not track down the key owner, and deactivate those keys?

devHead said,

How can they enforce this? The installation key and activation isn't connected with a specific subscription, is it? That would be wonky if I had to reinstall Windows after my subscription expired and found that the key would no longer work.


You shouldn't be using TechNet keys for other than evaluation purposes anyways, so I don't see how this is a relevant issue.

I wonder if this applies to MSDNAA.. If I get Windows 7 or 8 keys from it when I go back to College, will they expire at the end of the year, which would suck.

Ryoken said,
I wonder if this applies to MSDNAA.. If I get Windows 7 or 8 keys from it when I go back to College, will they expire at the end of the year, which would suck.

Probably not as Universities should still pay for MSDNAA. Besides, how would MS know if you had graduated or not?

briangw said,

Probably not as Universities should still pay for MSDNAA. Besides, how would MS know if you had graduated or not?

Each individual student gets their own MSDNAA account, or at least they do where I go.. Probably how MS tracks exactly how many have access and charges accordingly.. Individual logins, individual keys, ad key limits.

Ryoken said,
Each individual student gets their own MSDNAA account, or at least they do where I go.. Probably how MS tracks exactly how many have access and charges accordingly.. Individual logins, individual keys, ad key limits.

I was a MSDNAA admin for our school several years ago and while we logged student info, MS never questioned or killed access before. Besides, what if a student extends their University stay an extra semester or two? That info never gets updated in the MSDNAA page. Of course, it could be different going forward, but that's a lot of data to change, making the lives of these admins busier than they currently are.

The problem with RTMs, is that Microsoft is not making them available to public, until they usually hit retail (in Windows 8 case probably October).

So unless you have MSDN or TechNet account you or any other regular user without MSDN/TechNet most likely will not be able to get the final Windows 8 build when is its available later this month.

I am really hopping and crossing my fingers that Microsoft will offer the Windows 8 RTM as a retail package for all individuals right away, probably as digital download from Microsoft Store? I really hope so...

This is completely ridiculous. They should be dropping the price of a TechNet subscription then. I've been a member for a few years now and I intended on keeping it indefinitely. But not if they keep pulling this crap of reducing benefits without decreasing cost.

Yes because I'm sure you only use their software in a trial environment right? You don't use it on your daily desktop as your main OS right?

MSDN / Technet was designed to allow corporations to test out a brand new OS / server OS / software suite from MS without having to pay retail prices. It wasn't designed as a way for the general public to skip out on paying the same retail prices.

However, too many people buy a subscription when a new Windows / Office is about to be released for that very same reason. And that's why they're cutting your benefits.

Honestly its still a ridiculously good deal, $150 for Windows, Office, Visual Studio, Win Server etc. And even if you don't want to pay for it there are quite a lot of ways to get MS software for cheap (legally):

1. Are you a student? Most schools have MSDNAA so you can get it free from there. Then there's also dreamspark.
2. Do you have access to a work email? You can get office professional plus for like $10
3. Microsoft usually does get Windows for free or with 8 its now dirt cheap anyways.

You need to re-read the licenses. Yes some of them are for lab environments only but you do get some OS and Office licenses for regular use not just for labs.

-Razorfold said,
Yes because I'm sure you only use their software in a trial environment right? You don't use it on your daily desktop as your main OS right?

MSDN / Technet was designed to allow corporations to test out a brand new OS / server OS / software suite from MS without having to pay retail prices. It wasn't designed as a way for the general public to skip out on paying the same retail prices.

However, too many people buy a subscription when a new Windows / Office is about to be released for that very same reason. And that's why they're cutting your benefits.

Honestly its still a ridiculously good deal, $150 for Windows, Office, Visual Studio, Win Server etc. And even if you don't want to pay for it there are quite a lot of ways to get MS software for cheap (legally):

1. Are you a student? Most schools have MSDNAA so you can get it free from there. Then there's also dreamspark.
2. Do you have access to a work email? You can get office professional plus for like $10
3. Microsoft usually does get Windows for free or with 8 its now dirt cheap anyways.

-Razorfold said,
Yes because I'm sure you only use their software in a trial environment right? You don't use it on your daily desktop as your main OS right?

MSDN / Technet was designed to allow corporations to test out a brand new OS / server OS / software suite from MS without having to pay retail prices. It wasn't designed as a way for the general public to skip out on paying the same retail prices.

However, too many people buy a subscription when a new Windows / Office is about to be released for that very same reason. And that's why they're cutting your benefits.

Honestly its still a ridiculously good deal, $150 for Windows, Office, Visual Studio, Win Server etc. And even if you don't want to pay for it there are quite a lot of ways to get MS software for cheap (legally):

1. Are you a student? Most schools have MSDNAA so you can get it free from there. Then there's also dreamspark.
2. Do you have access to a work email? You can get office professional plus for like $10
3. Microsoft usually does get Windows for free or with 8 its now dirt cheap anyways.

And what about the ones that don't pay $150, but rather several thousand dollars?

You do?

Microsoft Software Licensed for Evaluation Purposes
Access over 70+ full-version Microsoft software without any time or feature limits for evaluation purposes only1

Software is licensed for evaluation purposes only


God Neowins commenting system sucks , won't let me post the full quote but either way its available on technet.com

And what about the ones that don't pay $150, but rather several thousand dollars?

MSDN is different to Technet, and with MSDN you're mostly paying for technical support. If you want extra keys and you have a VALID reason for it, email them and they will give you the keys.

Edited by ~Johnny, Jul 2 2012, 10:16pm :

-Razorfold said,
Yes because I'm sure you only use their software in a trial environment right? You don't use it on your daily desktop as your main OS right?

MSDN / Technet was designed to allow corporations to test out a brand new OS / server OS / software suite from MS without having to pay retail prices. It wasn't designed as a way for the general public to skip out on paying the same retail prices.

However, too many people buy a subscription when a new Windows / Office is about to be released for that very same reason. And that's why they're cutting your benefits.

Honestly its still a ridiculously good deal, $150 for Windows, Office, Visual Studio, Win Server etc. And even if you don't want to pay for it there are quite a lot of ways to get MS software for cheap (legally):

1. Are you a student? Most schools have MSDNAA so you can get it free from there. Then there's also dreamspark.
2. Do you have access to a work email? You can get office professional plus for like $10
3. Microsoft usually does get Windows for free or with 8 its now dirt cheap anyways.


The users do it because the cost is too high. The average user cannot afford what the corps are demanding. if cost was far less and benefits were not cut then it would not be a problem.

soldier1st said,

The users do it because the cost is too high. The average user cannot afford what the corps are demanding. if cost was far less and benefits were not cut then it would not be a problem.

$150 (cost of a windows 7 license, there are cheaper ones too) is too much for a program you will use pretty much everyday for a couple of years?

-Razorfold said,
Yes because I'm sure you only use their software in a trial environment right? You don't use it on your daily desktop as your main OS right?

I wish my subscription only cost $150, and yes most of my use is for testing purposes (I did not say all). All I'm saying is that Microsoft shouldn't be cutting the benefits of the subscription so drastically (and anyone who remembers the old TechNet knows what I'm talking about) without either reducing the cost or adding other benefits to compensate. Even if they would have offered a higher tier (slightly higher price) that included the original benefits.

It's $200 for a new sub, and $150 for renewal.

Sure you can get the professional (or the professional one with media) but why would you do that? The only difference is you get a bunch of enterprise software and support calls. If you really needed access to enterprise software, wouldn't you just get it straight from your employer?

I agree that they shouldn't really cut benefits but a lot of people abuse the service and there isn't much they can do about it. Sure they can increase the costs but then people would complain, they can cut benefits and people complain. So they're screwed either way. If people didn't abuse the service then they wouldn't have to do it but people do, either using it in production environments or selling the spare keys on eBay.

Kalint said,
Well nice job thieves!

Not all thieves are to be blamed. Blame the users/corps who keep raising the cost to unreasonable amounts. a subscription is not worth the cost now.

Looks like I'll have to deal with Office in a different way in the future. So far we have maintained our subscription though.

A heads up though. If you already have more than their new limit in keys they will continue to remain valid.

shinji257 said,
Looks like I'll have to deal with Office in a different way in the future. So far we have maintained our subscription though.

Well if you are using Office for day to day then you are part of the problem.

ShiZZa said,

Well if you are using Office for day to day then you are part of the problem.

MSDN subscriptions include one license of Office for daily use.

shinji257 said,
Looks like I'll have to deal with Office in a different way in the future. So far we have maintained our subscription though.

A heads up though. If you already have more than their new limit in keys they will continue to remain valid.

Or just pirate it like usual. ^^

ShiZZa said,

Well if you are using Office for day to day then you are part of the problem.

I never used it enough to justify the cost and starter edition wasn't quite enough.

So, does this mean if I use a product key for Windows 8, and then a year later my subscription runs out. Does that mean my Windows 8 install will become "un activated"?

sM4llziE said,
So, does this mean if I use a product key for Windows 8, and then a year later my subscription runs out. Does that mean my Windows 8 install will become "un activated"?

It looks that way!

sM4llziE said,
So, does this mean if I use a product key for Windows 8, and then a year later my subscription runs out. Does that mean my Windows 8 install will become "un activated"?

I dont think MS will de-activate you, just unvalidate your key and block you on the next activation, when/if that happens.

The new terms and policies are supposed to go into effect for current MSDN and TechNet users in a couple of weeks, according to the article.

Around the time Windows 8 goes RTM

Looks like I might have to use my 14.99 Windows 8 upgrade in order to get all my PCs on 8 since the MSDN license won't cut it anymore.

Lame, but... I see their point.