Microsoft quietly cuts down TechNet subscribers' product keys

Microsoft bloggers, Mary-Jo Foley and Paul Thurott, have uncovered a very interesting change to TechNet – one that wasn’t publicised at all. TechNet subscribers used to get 10 product keys for each of Microsoft’s business products (Windows, Office, etc) – the change that Thurott uncovered reduces TechNet Professional subscribers to five product keys, and TechNet Standard subscribers to two product keys. That’s a reduction of between 50-80%.

Thurott first noticed that the number of TechNet product keys had reduced, and assumed it was a bug. He later updated the post to reflect Microsoft’s statement that it was a change, and not a bug. Microsoft told Foley that the change was in line with Microsoft’s efforts to reduce piracy. Below is the response that Microsoft sent to Foley:

“Microsoft is committed to helping prevent software piracy, which often results in end users being the victims of software counterfeiters. Counterfeiters abuse product keys to create fake software packages and distribute these to the public. These packages are not licensed, do not have support, and can also include malware and spyware.

“Therefore, Microsoft has decided to limit the number of product keys available through TechNet Subscriptions, for all products, to five for TechNet Professional and two for TechNet Standard. TechNet Subscriptions is intended to support software trial and evaluation, versus a production environment. We offer other programs for volume purchasing and installation. We believe this change maintains a sufficient number of product keys for the majority of our customers based on usage data, while greatly reducing the overall risk of piracy and counterfeiting. We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this action may have caused our subscribers.”

MSDN licensees are not affected by these changes.

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