Microsoft's TechNet Subscription service is shutting down. Subscriptions will be sold through August 31, and you'll be able to activate purchases through September 30. After that, however, there will be no way to enter the program. Current subscriptions and those activated before the deadline will be honored for the full length of their terms.
TechNet Subscriptions provide IT professionals (and PC enthusiasts) with access to a wide range of Microsoft software. Why is the service being axed? Microsoft says a single factor wasn't responsible for the decision, but it does point out one motivator. Subscriptions aren't free, and it seems users may prefer evaluation software when they don't have to pay for it. Microsoft says it's "seen a usage shift from paid to free evaluation experiences and resources." The firm also notes that TechNet Subscriptions have suffered from "piracy and license misuse in the past."
Instead of maintaining TechNet subscriptions, Microsoft has pledged to "grow and improve [its] 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." The TechNet site will continue to live as a technical resource. Non-volume licensees will have their access to the subscriber download and benefits pages disappear after Septermber 30, 2014, while volume customers will have the terms of existing agreements honored.
A lot of folks on Twitter seem to be bummed out by the end of TechNet Subscriptions, and I can understand their pain. I can see the appeal of more free preview software, though.