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Thursday, 16 October 2014

Shutting Down

It's been over a year since Microsoft shut down the Technet subscription service with no indication that it will ever return.

For that reason, this blog is closing down.

We move on...

Friday, 6 September 2013

Microsoft responded to MCT complaints

Hi, I am the Regional Lead for Microsoft Certified Trainers in Turkey. Following Microsoft’s announcement about TechNet’s retirement, I have tried to create awareness within Microsoft that the adopted way of action will hurt legitimate customers and will cause long-term financial loss for both parties. I decided to send an e-mail to Steve Ballmer, which was kindly welcomed. This allowed me to discuss the matter with the managers of Microsoft Learning.

Furthermore, I wrote a report about the long-term effects of TNS retirement on the MCT community. I prepared an MCT value proposition and presented it to the management of Microsoft Learning. Their initial reaction was positive and I hope that my report will be able to spark some discussion during the MCT Summit in September.

Today, I have received information that Microsoft have decided to partially remedy the complaints of the MCT community. I am expecting further developments during the next couple of weeks, but as of today, 3 points have been made clear by Microsoft:

1)      TechNet subscribers that have activated their accounts before the 1st of September will receive a “free, one-time, 90 day subscription extension”. This will adjust the date of the current MCT TechNet subscription deadline to 29 June 2014, earliest. The exact date of expiration can be checked from the “My Account” page of the TechNet Subscriptions benefits portal. You can continue to access downloads and licenses until your updated expiration date is over. For details go to

2)      TechNet Evaluation Center will start providing access to prior versions of the available trial software. Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Office 2010 are made available as of today. Microsoft stated that they will add additional products over time. For details go to

3)      For MCTs only, Microsoft plans to replace their current TechNet NFR Subscription with a new solution (yet to be determined) that will provide them access to non-time bombed software for the duration of the 2014 MCT program membership year. As expected, the software contained in the said solution will be used for instructional purposes only. More details will be available in the coming weeks.

Konstantin Ceran

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Are Microsoft Losing Friends and Alienating IT Pros?

Original Blog/Post:

Regular readers of my blog will know I’m a big fan of Microsoft products. As well as being an Exchange MVP, I’m very much a cloud fan – you’ll find me at Exchange Connections in a few weeks time talking about migrating to Exchange Online amongst other subjects. What I’m about to write doesn’t change any of that, and I hope the right people will read this and have a serious re-think.
Microsoft’s “Devices and Services” strategy is leaving many in the industry very confused at the moment.
If you’ve been living under a rock – I’ll give you an overview. They’ve dropped MCSM, the leading certification for their Server products. They’ve dropped TechNet subscriptions, the benchmark for how a vendor lets its IT pros evaluate and learn about their range of products. And they’ve been very lax with the quality of updates for their on-premises range of products, Exchange included, whilst at the same time releasing features only in their cloud products.
A range of MCMs and MCSMs – Microsoft employees included – have been expressing their opinions here, here, here, here, here and in numerous other places. We’ve discussed the TechNet Subscriptions on The UC Architects’ podcast.
One thing is key – this kind of behaviour absolutely destroys trust in Microsoft. After the last round of anti-trust issues, it took a long time for Microsoft to gain a position of trust along with many years of incrementally releasing better and better products. A few years ago Microsoft was just about “good enough” to let into your datacentre; now it’s beginning to lead the way, especially with Hyper-V, Exchange and Lync.
Before I get started on Microsoft’s cloud strategy, let’s take a jovial look at what (from my experience) is Google’s strategy:
  • Tell the customer their internal IT sucks (tactfully), ideally without IT present so they can talk about the brilliance of being “all in” the cloud without a dose of reality getting in the way.
  • Class all line of business apps as irrelevant – the sales person was probably still in nursery when they were deployed. Because those apps are old, they must be shit.
  • Show a picture of something old and irrelevant – like a mill generating it’s own energy. Tell them that’s what their IT is! You, the customer, don’t run a power station, so why would you run your own IT? If you do run your own IT you are irrelevant and getting left behind.
  • Make out the customer’s own IT is actually less reliable than it is. Don’t mention that recent on-premises products cost less, are easy for the right people to implement and from a user perspective are often more reliable than an overseas cloud service.
  • Only provide your products in the cloud so once you’re in… you’re in.
  • Don’t let anyone from the outside be a real expert on the technology. You don’t need a Google “MVP”, because 99% of Google server products can only be provided by one company.
  • Once you’ve signed up a customer remember, you don’t need to give them good support. They can’t go anyway without spending money on a third party solution to get their data out.
From a Microsoft MVP point of view, Google’s strategy is brilliant. It means that although we like a lot of their products, it drives away customers in their droves. Microsoft’s traditional approach to the cloud – and partner ecosystem would be a breath of fresh air to someone who’s been though the Google machine.
Unfortunately, based on recent experiences by myself and others – the above is actually looking pretty similar to Microsoft’s new strategy. Naturally this worries me a lot.
In my eyes, Microsoft’s cloud strategy should be (and I thought was) more akin to VMware’s – where we are looking at a four pronged attack on traditional, expensive IT:
  • Microsoft’s cloud – great for a LOT of stuff. Makes sense for many customers. They may take some or all of the services on offer. A bit of email? Sure! Run a few servers in Azure? No problem! Want just Lync IM/Presence? Go get it, tiger!
  • Third-party cloud providers – Office 365 and Azure do not fit the needs of all customers, but many are looking to save the hassle of running commodity services. The customer might have regulations they need to abide by, need an in-country provider, need flexibility that Microsoft can’t provide, or more likely need a range of cloud services that involve a number of vendors.
  • Private cloud – When internal IT departments are highly skilled (and can get help from specialists in a range of areas) private cloud can be very compelling. I’m not talking about mopping up a rack of servers and P2Ving them onto a couple of hosts – but a truly flexible internal private cloud that for some, works out cheaper than a third party provider.
  • Hybrid Cloud – mixing two or more of the above – for example, buying SharePoint Online for low-risk cloud storage and collaboration via Office 365; using a third party for Exchange hosting in-country (or using Exchange Hybrid), and running Lync on-premises alongside mission critical applications on the customer’s private cloud.
The above encompasses “the cloud on your terms”, and from a customer and partner point of view means that you get the choice of how to buy it; how to implement it, and you aren’t locked into a single vendor. Yes, your email might be in Exchange – but you can take it with you to another provider, or run it on-premises if it suits you better at a later date. It also de-risks the move to Office 365 or another provider as you can get your data out quickly and easily.
By attempting to de-skill IT professionals within customers and partners by dropping TechNet Subs and top-level certifications, and apparently de-skill Microsoft itself (remember half the attendees to MCM/MCSM were MS employees!) suddenly the game gets a lot scarier.
Next, add in recent support issues. It’s no secret support for Office 365 and Azure isn’t experiencing it’s finest hour. If your case can’t be solved immediately, welcome to Google-like support or the feeling your problem has dropped down a black hole.
Finally, and as if to add insult to injury – just when Microsoft is making massive inroads with Hyper-V, System Center and Windows Server 2012 – Microsoft seem to de-emphasize it’s on premise / hoster offerings. Exchange Server 2010 was (and still is!) a roaring success with many happy customers, many of whom will (once it’s stable) gladly upgrade to Exchange 2013 and reduce costs further. Although Microsoft dropped /hosting mode from Exchange, there is still got a great offering for hosters. The same applies, if not more so, to Lync, which can only be deployed on-premise or via a hosting partner if you want to enjoy it’s full Enterprise Voice capabilities.
What Microsoft must do, if they plan on a) continuing to be relevant in the datacentre – wherever that may be and b) looking to avoid IT professionals and decision makers jumping ship and avoiding them where they can, is to reverse the unwritten policy of “get them onto our cloud then lock them in”.
To do this, I think they need to:
  • Ensure certifications for MCSM/MCM still exist, even if the training is unsustainable in it’s current form.
  • Restore TechNet subscriptions, or at least make available long-term trials of products you want to migrate to – and crucially migrate from.
  • Focus on product quality. This benefits everyone – after all it’s the same code whether on-prem or in the cloud.
  • Put the customer first – not Microsoft, not the MS cloud partner! Just because the sales rep or partner stands to make a ton of recurring revenue from an Office 365 subscription doesn’t mean it’s going to work out well for the customer.
  • Finally, concentrate on what Microsoft has proved over the last ten years it’s great at – making great software. This article explains the final point better than I possibly could.
Anyway.. that’s my two cents. Let me know if you do – or don’t – agree in the comments below. We’ll be discussing the subject of MCSM certifications on this week’s The UC Architects podcast. If you want to vote for Microsoft to bring back MCSM, vote here.
Update – Microsoft have responded, and you can read the text here and MCM Devin Ganger’s take on the matter. You can also listen to the latest episode of The UC Architect’s podcast where MCMs and MCSMs express their views.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Dutch Blog from 'ZoWieZo' against the decision of Microsoft Retires TechNet subscriptions:

18 jaar van mijn leven, tijd, geld en moeite gegeven aan één bedrijf, en nu laten ze mij als een  blok vallen:


     Ja zo ga ik ze noemen: M$ want dat is waar ze voor staan. 18 geleden belande ik in de IT/ICT, want direct uitzicht op een baan, in de situatie die ik toen had - had ik niet direct. Ik begon eerst voor mijzelf, 6 jaar lang in de "entertainment industrie" en de "horeca", op zich niets mis mee, maar de prijzen veranderden drastisch in 1991-1995 voor de huur van artiesten, licht, geluid, apparatuur en decor. Raakte persoonlijk failliet / zodoende in de WW en Schuld Sanering, verkocht mijn huis, en besteed de overwaarde van die verkoop in mijn nieuwe opleiding: Unix System-V, System Administrator I + II.
    Na het behalen van mijn diploma's werd al snel duidelijk dat de kleine firma's Windows For Workgroups 3.11 draaide en de grotere firma's Windows NT 3.51, Unix systemen waren er haast niet, en als ze er waren, waren ze heel moeilijk te vinden. Dus ik telde mijn sommetje op: Vraag = Aanbod, en besloot mij direct te gaan Certificeren voor het bedrijf dat het Windows product op de markt zette: Micro$oft (M$ in het kort). Ik heb mijn opleidingen zelf moeten betalen via Studie afbetaling regelingen, op zich niet verkeerd zo'n regeling - het mes snijd dan aan 2 kanten.
Eerst MCP, MCSA, daarna MCSE, en direct daarop; MCSE+I, die I staat voor Internet, en vertegenwoordigd de toenmalige Internet producten: Internet Explorer, MS Proxy Server(tegenwoordig ISA), IIS Server, en Exchange Mail Server - dit omdat ik vanuit UNIX als Internet Specialist was gecertificeerd, ik kon immers alles met HTML/Java/VB/PHP/Perl en alle gerelateerde talen en scripts.
1996 ging ik voor MCSE NT4.0, Dec-1999 voor MCSE 2000, en omstreeks 2004 MCSA 2003, nu is 2008 deze zomer juist verlopen, en ik was letterlijk bezig met alle 2008/2008-R2 certificeringen, want ik moest me eigenlijk richten op Windows 2012 Server.

      Ik heb nu 18 jaar van mijn leven besteed aan een bedrijf, waaruit nu blijkt dat ik ze gewoonweg niet vertrouwen kan. Juist Microsoft Corp.  / het bedrijf waar ik in 1999 / 2000 / 2001 voor heb gewerkt, waar voor ik letterlijk iedereen heb verteld, hoe geweldig hun Windows product wel niet is, en alle aanverwante producten zoals het beste relationele database: SQL Server, de beste Collaboration Mail Server: Exchange, en dan nog niet te spreken over hun CMS/DMS GroupWare Server over Web: SharePoint Server, of hun Admin tools, die 'niets kosten' als je een Enterprise License Agreement afsloot, en dat deden al mijn klanten, ik  verkocht het Microsoft product, en dat deed ik goed, maar ondertussen kreeg ik geen extra geld. Ik werkte gratis en voor niks, voor Microsoft Corp./BV.

     Ik certificeerde mijzelf, op kosten van mijn Eigen portemonnee! Ik kocht een TechNet Subscription Licentie Pack om zodoende te kunnen ontwikkelen, oefenen, trainen, leren, implementeren, door te doen, en te doen, en weer, en weer - Want dat kon met TechNet, geen beperkingen, gewoon gaan met die banaan.

    Ik ben één van de vele TechNet Subscribers die in Micro$oft gecertificeerd is, en in Micro$oft geloofde, ik ben 1 van de grote groep, die bestaat uit meer dan 10.000 mensen - die net zo als ik, vanaf 15 jaar TechNet Subscriptions hebben besteed, betaald en daar boven op zich hebben gecertificeerd voor alle Micro$oft producten, en daar weer boven op, geheel belangen loos en gratis, verkoop-werkzaamheden hebben verricht om Micro$oft maar groter te laten worden...  

Minimaal 10.000 Fans -
die in dienst staan van jou product -
in 1 keer in de afgrond laten vallen...

      Wat gaat er dan door die koppen van die fans - heen?
Zouden zij trouw aan Micr$oft blijven?

     Zouden zij meer geld spenderen, op het moment dat de economie slecht gaat, zouden zij langer achter een bedrijf zich verschuilen en weer hun portemonnee opentrekken om vervolgens tijd te besteden om wederom gecertificeerd te worden - voor een product van een bedrijf, die hun zo juist als een baksteen heeft laten vallen?

    Ik heb zo mijn twijfels, zeker als je nu ook nog eens ziet, dat de grootste Share Holders (geld investeerders, waarbij miljoenen US dollars gemoeid gaan) van Microsoft erg veel kritiek hebben van de uitrol van: Windows 8, Office 2013, Office 365, Azure Cloud oplossingen, X-Box1 Game console, en hun nieuwe hardware parade paardje, die volledig mislukt is: Windows RT met de Surface ARM Tablet.  Wat een flop was dat zeg!

     Deze grootste Share Holders balen, want de omzet ging omlaag, en vanuit de grote money-pot mest er dit jaar 900 miljoen bijgelegd worden, en wie zou die 900 miljoen betalen denk je? Precies, de waarde wordt terug verhaald op de waarde van de Shares, dus die waarde gaat opeens omlaag.

     De vraag is, gaat Micro$oft zijn huidige plannen doorzetten? Wat als dat gebeurd, zal +/- 65% van alle TechNet Subscribers, Microsoft op eens als een baksteen laten vallen - net zo als Micro$oft dat bij hun heeft gedaan. 

Gaat Microsoft zijn voorgangers achterna?
Novell? SCO? Corel? Solaris?

Ze zijn in ieder geval hard op weg!

is ondertekend,

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Rebuttal to Toddy Mladenov's article on

The following is a rebuttal to Toddy Mladenov's article from SYS-CON MEDIA.

Toddy Mladenov, I wanted to make a few points about your article.

Free Evalutaions

Free has a nice ring to it; however, you failed to mention the software is only free for 30 to 180 days. Labs are set up with one or more servers and layers of software. Configure everything is time-consuming. Testing is often prolonged, over lapping, and intermittent. Forcing IT professionals to tear down and completely rebuild such testing environments every 180 days add substantial, unnecessary work. Furthermore, the list of free evaluations doesn’t include any previous products such as Windows 7. For that matter, only Windows 8 Enterprise is available. This may seem like a small point except companies are slow to adopt new products. Many only recently migrated to Windows 7.


As you point out, prices continue to drop. Windows 8 is certainly more affordable than Windows 7. This probably has more to do with luring reluctant customers to Windows 8. If Windows 8 was wildly popular, I doubt it would have the same price.


Yes, TechNet subscribers can switch to MSDN. However, your statement that MSDN costs a few hundred dollars more annually is patently false. The subscription you referred to for $349 is TechNet Pro. The closest MSDN match is “Visual Studio Premium with MSDN” for $6,119. A $5,770 difference is hardly a few hundred dollars more a year. The subscription contains expensive developer tools IT professionals don’t need. I doubt they will ever claim to be developers either.

Installations And Azure

Yes, cloud services are convenient. Remember, this is about testing. Suggesting that evaluating software for a single day is sufficient draws a stark contrast between your opinion and reality.

Additionally, saying Azure costs a few bucks is disputable. The services required to perform lab testing in the cloud is certainly more than a few bucks a day. It is difficult to know how much because the fee schedule for Azure is so complex, we cannot adequately project cost.

The Problem with IT Pros

You suggested the real problem was IT pros themselves. If our roles were reversed, you would find this offensive. The world is changing as it always will, but predicting the future of IT is a fool’s errand. For proof look no further Microsoft’s projections for Window 8 and Windows Surface. Juxtapose them with Microsoft’s recent $900 million write down and its $34 billion stock sell-off (the largest in 13 years).

You allude to Microsoft knowing what’s best for us. Under the circumstances, Microsoft is hardly in a position to give us advice. From our perspective, switching to Azure is better for Microsoft not necessarily us. I’d like to remind you, companies and their IT staffs are Microsoft’s customers. You seem to have inverted the relationship. IT professionals focus on non-cloud solutions because their customers demand it. The facts don’t support your assertion that the traditional role of IT is near its end.

The public should read up on this subject and draw its own conclusions. Read comments left by nearly 9,000 IT professionals on the petition and elsewhere on the Internet. The following links will help.

Internet Discussions:
Petition Comments:
Our Blog:


Cody Skidmore