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Monday, 29 July 2013

We didn’t Get Dressed Up For Nothing!

August 1st marks the four week anniversary of when our campaign began. Since July 1st, more than 7,500 individuals from 92 countries joined us. I have no doubt we will reach 10,000 in the coming weeks as we approach the date Microsoft begins cutting subscribers off from TechNet. There are four issues before us.

One is Microsoft’s free offerings as a substitute for TechNet. In the interest of fairness, like many of you I explored Microsoft’s free evaluation center. Microsoft’s free offerings have no correlation to TechNet beyond basics. The list doesn’t include any legacy products what so ever. For that matter, only Windows 8 Enterprise is available. This may hint at products such as Office Pro 2013 dropping off in favor of Office 365 in the future.

The 30 – 180 day evaluation period is still inadequate since testing is frequently prolonged, overlapping, and intermittent. What I’ve seen doesn’t alter my opinion. These evaluations will not suffice as a substitute for TechNet.

Another issue is the cost of TechNet vs. MSDN. Figures vary based on subscription versions. The figures I use are based on TechNet Pro which costs $350 USD. The array of products available through TechNet Pro is broad and includes most legacy software. The only comparable MSDN subscription is Visual Studio Premium with MSDN at a cost of $6,120 USD which is unattainable for most of us.

Pirating TechNet licenses is a possible reason for closing TechNet. However pirating software isn’t exclusive to TechNet. Microsoft successfully combats pirating of its commercial products, so it has means to address pirating without closing TechNet. Many ideas for combating piracy were offered by individuals in our community. Microsoft has many options here.

Yet another issue is Microsoft’s handling of the announcement. Microsoft abruptly closed TechNet on July 1st alienated the very individuals driving profits for its enterprise services (one of the only bright spots on its financial report). Microsoft couldn’t sufficiently explain its decision. It knew in advance how everyone would react. Microsoft wanted to avoid coming face to face with thousands of furious IT engineers, so it waited until after its TechEd conference in June to make the announcement.

Microsoft’s reasons for closing TechNet are widely viewed as weak. So the community emailed Microsoft asking for a better explanation. Microsoft replied with scripted messages but offered no context. The emails sent to subscribers in most countries are nearly identical.

One version:

“Thank you for contacting Microsoft. Your issue regarding Technet Retirement has been escalated to me at the Customer and Field Advocacy Team, by <…>.

We hear your concerns and frustrations. Ultimately, we decided to retire the TechNet Subscriptions because we’re seeing increased adoption of our free evaluation experiences like the TechNet Evaluation Center, which has grown 100% in the past year alone and received good feedback from our user base.

In a 2013 survey, more than 90% of our customers were able to complete their server evaluations through the Evaluation Center within 180 days.

Our teams are actively listening to input from our subscribers and will use customer feedback as we continue to invest in free resources for IT professionals.

Please reach out if you’d like to share additional feedback.”

Another version:

Thank you for submitting your feedback regarding TechNet.

As IT trends and business dynamics have evolved, so has Microsoft’s set of offerings for IT professionals who are looking to learn, evaluate and deploy Microsoft technologies and services. In recent years, we have seen a usage shift from paid to free evaluation experiences and resources. As a result, Microsoft has decided to retire the TechNet Subscriptions service and will discontinue sales on August 31, 2013.

Microsoft will focus on growing and improving our free offerings for IT professionals, 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.

We are committed to helping customers through this transition phase and will remain focused on providing IT professionals with free access to a broad set of TechNet assets. Please visit for more information.

Your feedback is important and we appreciate you taking the time to contact us.

If Microsoft had data backing it argument, it would roll out its numbers in full view of the public there-by ending the dispute. Clearly this hasn’t occurred which calls into question Microsoft’s motive for closing TechNet.

Microsoft wants and give up. It believes we will resign ourselves to the inevitable closing of TechNet and bend to its will. Some say we are charging at windmills and cannot overpower Microsoft. The question is how do we respond?

Do we become demoralized? Do we allow ourselves to be tossed aside after dedicating most of our careers to a company that so easily dismisses us? Do we betray our own convictions and community that will soon reach 10,000 because we’re facing a single-minded corporation with no compunctions about forcing us into its own agenda?


“We didn’t get dressed up for nothing!”

Defeating Microsoft is within our ability but requires great patience. We must be courageous and absolutely determined as our movement enters a new phase. We must exact such a high price on Microsoft in bad press and angry customers that closing TechNet becomes a liability it cannot afford. We will achieve this goal through an array of actions.

First establishing reliable communication across the community is urgent. Please join to the email discussion list below. This opens up communication so everyone can take a more active role guiding the movement. It also allows us to rapidly respond to events related to TechNet closing.

We created the following community resources to help us.

We will setup campaign email addresses soon. In the meantime, use

We’re asking for volunteers to take control of these resources. We need individuals to manage them as well as help make them presentable so they’re effective in delivering our message to the public and Microsoft. Our message spread to 92 countries so language must be considered. If you can help with translating, we greatly need your help. Your assistance at all levels is critical to keep us growing. Please do what you can.

Next we need to align ourselves with other groups angry at Microsoft. One such group might be Microsoft’s investors. After a $900 million write down for tablets and July 19th’s $34 billion sell-off, investors are annoyed. They feel Microsoft’s reorganization did nothing to address its problems, and Microsoft’s multiple blunders indicate a change in management is required.

As mentioned, one of the bright spots on Microsoft’s financial report was profits from enterprise services. Investors may find the news that Microsoft alienated the very individuals driving profits for those services infuriating. To reach them we must penetrate both business and financial market news. We need to contact journalists focused on these areas and tell them our story. I’m making contact with them in the United States. I can provide a letter for use in other countries but it needs translating. Please contact us if you can translate it into your language and help publish it.

Finally, I personally want to express how fortunate it is to meet all of you. I read your comments daily and try very hard to personally reply to your emails. When the petition started, I never in my wildest dream thought I’d become acquainted with so many incredible people. Many of us don’t speak the same language yet we found ingenious ways to communicate. I am profoundly honored to be part of a community that stretches around our planet and will never repay the kindness you’ve shown.


Cody Skidmore
Twitter: @CodySkidmore
HashTag: #TechNet

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