Consider a Microsoft TechNet Plus Subscription to Keep Computing Costs Down

If you’re reading this, you’re using a computer. Computers have become a necessity for most of us, and in many cases, we have even more than one. Unfortunately, computers can also have costs associated with them as technology continues to advance and software gets updated. If you’re like the millions of others out there using a PC with Microsoft software, you know just how costly it can be to upgrade to a new version of Windows, Office, or any of their other programs. In many cases, these software packages can run well into the hundreds of dollars and the license is only valid for one computer. If you want to upgrade multiple computers in your home it’s often not feasible to do so.

Then there’s open source software. Obviously, you’re free to install whatever you want on your computer so you can go ahead and grab a copy of Linux or any other free operating system and then use a number of the free applications to get your work done. This is a great way to keep costs down, but unfortunately it has a bit of a learning curve for the novice computer user and you may encounter some odd hardware or software incompatibilities. For people who may not want to learn a new system and stick with what’s familiar with Microsoft products, the options are usually to pay or pirate. Paying can be expensive, and pirating is illegal so the options are limited. And if you’ve ever been burned by dropping a few hundred bucks on a new version of software only to find it sucks or doesn’t work with your hardware, you know how frustrating that can be.

Introducing Microsoft TechNet Plus

Actually, this is nothing new. Microsoft TechNet is designed for IT professionals. TechNet Plus provides convenient access to full-version Microsoft evaluation software-without time limits. The annual subscription also includes Professional Support incidents, a technical information library, and many other resources for evaluating, deploying, and maintaining Microsoft software.

But you’re not an IT professional you say? You don’t have to be. There’s no test or qualifications you need to have in order to subscribe to TechNet Plus. You do, however, need to follow a few changes to the licensing terms since this is evaluation software. The main thing here is that this license isn’t meant for a live production environment. So if you run a business and are thinking about installing a bunch of software on your employee’s computers, you can’t. And if you’re a programmer, you’re not supposed to use this software in a software development environment.

According to the Microsoft FAQ:

Can I use evaluation software received in my TechNet Plus subscription at home?

The license grants installation and use rights to one user only, for evaluation purposes, on any of the user’s devices, this may include devices at home. Keep in mind that you may use the evaluation software only to evaluate it. You may not use it in a live operating environment, a staging environment, or with data that has not been sufficiently backed up. You may not use the evaluation software for software development or in an application development environment.

TechNet Plus Subscription Benefits

Microsoft software licensed for evaluation purposes. Evaluate full-version commercial products without time limits or feature limits, including Microsoft operating systems, servers, and Office System software. With full-version software, you can make informed decisions about new technologies and deployments at your own pace.

Beta software. Receive pre-release versions of Microsoft operating systems, servers and business applications.

Professional Support Incidents. For the toughest technical questions, a TechNet Plus subscription includes two complimentary Professional Support incidents and a 20% discount on additional purchased support incidents. Talk to a Microsoft Support Professional to help resolve mission-critical technical issues fast.

Managed Newsgroup Support. TechNet Plus provides unlimited access to over 100 Managed Newsgroups. Exchange ideas with other IT Professionals and get expert answers to your technical questions within the next business day-guaranteed.

Technical resources for Microsoft products. Access the Technical Information Library containing the Microsoft Knowledge Base, security updates, service packs, resource kits, utilities, technical training, and product documentation to keep systems and IT skills up-to-date.

Microsoft eLearning courses. To prepare for certification or simply to help build your technical skills, TechNet Plus includes a selection of Microsoft eLearning courses for free each quarter.

Online Concierge Chat. Chat with a Microsoft Search Assistant online for help finding the technical resources you need or for assistance with non-technical questions.

Subscription to TechNet Magazine. Receive a free one-year subscription to TechNet Magazine which provides hands-on information to help IT Professionals maximize their system’s security, reliability, scalability and interoperability.

How Much Does It Cost?

Ok, so this all sounds great, but how much does it cost? Well, the first year subscription is $349 and renewals go for $249 a year. Sounds like a lot, but consider how much just one copy of Microsoft software costs. One copy of an OS, one copy of Office, or far less than some of the server products. Obviously, if you have ever went out and bought a new copy of Windows or Office or something only to find out you hate it or that it doesn’t work right you can see how this could be helpful.

The good news is there’s a coupon code out there right now that gets you $100 off new subscriptions. That brings your first year subscription down to $249, or just over $20/month. The coupon code is: TW7OBA. I’m not sure how long it will last, so you may want to act fast if you’re considering this.

It’s Not for Everyone

It probably goes without saying that this service isn’t for everyone. If you’re someone who just buys a new computer and is content with the software they give you, then it could be a waste of money. But if you’re a bit of a computer geek like I am, the TechNet subscription can pay for itself quickly.

I build my computers from scratch and I’m constantly experimenting with hardware and software configurations and trying to get the most from my computers. And with multiple PCs at home, it just isn’t feasible to go out and buy new software every time I want to try it out or see if it works on my setup. Having the ability to download and install almost any Microsoft application available is a huge benefit and it allows me to plan my future computer and software purchases accordingly instead of wasting money on an upgrade that isn’t worth it.

So, consider how you use your computers and see if this is something you may be able to take advantage of. If you can, it could save you some good money. Obviously, using free open source software can save the most, but if you rely on or just like Microsoft applications, this is the best way to get your hands on it. If you already use TechNet, feel free to chime in and let us know if you’ve found it useful or not.

Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle

My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.


Sigh... rereading the quote in the post, it sounds like you might actually get to install the software on as many computers as you may wish...

Maybe this might work for me... man, am I confused


I was doing some thinking, and I am not sure that TechNet is really worth the price... I mean considering that Windows is (guess) about $299 for a full version professional and Office is about $400, that would be about $700, and with them coming out about every three years (given another Windows XP gap with Vista doesn't exist again), the price comes out to $233 a year.

This isn't including buying upgrades or whatnot... and Betas you can get off of torrents... so I really don't see any reason to pay $250 a year to 'evaluate' the software. Especially with the fact that you can install one office license on 3 computers.

Now if you get a VLK with Technet for office and windows, then I would consider differently and sign up.


May 08, 2009. It does not work for me now...

Sanchit Jain
Sanchit Jain

I have a 1 yr subscription. Download Speeds are very slow!!!!! Can I use somebody's CDs/DVDs & use the keys provided to me? Or are the evaluation software different from the others?


Well, Jeremy, then I might have to opt for it for a year, probably after 7 and Office 2010 comes out. Sounds like a freakin good deal.

And Wally, Although I have to agree with how quickly technology moves, I also have to disagree. Buying a new computer every six months is as relevant as buying a new car every year. I personally believe a computer has a workstation life of about 5 years, and given you can always upgrade the internals. But even after it's life is up, it can make a good server than :)

Wally Edwards
Wally Edwards

I compare computer like vehicles. They are a must have but they come with expenses and costs. Both of them require maintenance and updates. The big difference is that the vehicles can go a long time without a major repaid.

The computers on the other hand are pretty much outdated after 6 months. As you mentioned, new software are in design or in the works before the current software hit the market. In order to stay atop of the curve one really has to update their computer every six months if not sooner.


Daniel, the main difference is the type of software offered. There is obviously some overlap, but MSDN focuses heavily on development platforms, whereas Technet has most of the consumer and business apps.

Of course I'm just going off of memory, I haven't had an active MSDN subscription in years.


So, this article really striked my interest, as a fellow computer nerd. I knew of MSDN but not TechNet... I guess my question is... what's the downside? For personal use only...