Microsoft closed access to new subscriptions to the TechNet subscription service on August 31, 2013. Prior and since then SysAdmins have been crying wondering how they could get the same software access. There are two methods, and one of them is FREE.
Option 1 - MSDN
MSDN, or Microsoft Developer Network, offer the same thing to its developers. A Subscription service providing access to an array of Microsoft software for developers to develop software for and test with. This access is a paid subscription much like what TechNet used to be. But starting at over AU$1000 for the basic package, is it really worth it when there is Option 2?
Option 2 - New TechNet
The newer TechNet offers free downloads off current and previous Windows, Office, SQL and other software, along with bonuses. Sound familiar?
TechNet Evaluation Center - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/evalcenter
TechNet Evaluation Center is where you can download the forementioned full featured products on a trial basis. Trial durations will vary between products, but some products will offer up to 90 days evaluation period. That's 3 months. Huge. Windows, Office, SQL, System Center. It has it all.
TechNet Virtual Labs - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/virtuallabs
Virtual Labs are awesome. This allows to learn and practice certain skills with Microsoft products from Server operations, scripting and more in hosted virtual machines. These are FULL working virtual machines. It means you can do what you like with them, break them, mess up or follow the guide and when you are done, just close out. No costs. No monthly subs or limit on number of VMs. Go nuts. Windows Server (including SBS and Essentials), SQL, PowerShell, Office and more is offered and array of lessons to go with them.
Microsoft Virtual Academy - http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com
Simply put, this is where you will find guides, webinars and more about current and upcoming products and help with all thing Microsoft as an IT Pro. This is also a great resource if you are training to go for a Microsoft certification. Using the Learning Plan will help you track you progress with a chosen free course and rewards you with points on completion.
Gone are the days of CD wallets full of outdated software (as much as I will alos miss them), the new TechNet is definitely the way to go.
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