The best Windows deal around

If you love to tinker with Microsoft software, you really should have a TechNet Plus subscription. For $349 ($249 to renew), you get a year-long subscription that gives you the right to download, install, and activate just about every piece of software that Microsoft makes: every edition of Windows Vista (including Ultimate and Enterprise), Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, every member of the Windows Server family, nearly every member of the Office family, and a slew of tools.

You can get more details on this TechNet Plus overview page, but what you won’t find there is this $100 off coupon, which I found courtesy of Kevin Remde. Enter the coupon code TMSAM08 when you place your order, and that $349 first-year price tag shrinks to $249. (Sorry, this offer is good only in the U.S., and it expires in May 2008, so don’t wait too long.)

A few more details:

  • The software is licensed for evaluation only, but it has no time bombs, so even if you choose not to renew, you can continue to use it. (Want more details about licensing? Read this FAQ.)
  • You also get access to beta software, such as Windows Server 2008.
  • Each annual subscription includes two complimentary Professional Support incidents, which would normally cost $59 each.
  • You get access to managed newsgroups, where you’re guaranteed an answer within one business day.

I’ve been a TechNet subscriber for three years, and it’s really a fabulous deal. In fact, for the work I do it’s indispensable. More questions? Hit the comments and ask away.

51 thoughts on “The best Windows deal around

  1. Technet is a great idea. I have been using it for the past year. It is nice to have access to each version of their software. I run a small tech support company and it is nice to have access to these programs without having to pay full licenses for each.

  2. I bit and ordered it. Thank you VERY much for that coupon code.

    I would also note that it appears that you need IE to actually order it. Scratch that. I can’t read tonight. It’s been a rather long day today. Too many people today calling me about their Comcast issues. (nothing to do with Bittorrent, just setup issues) I’ll just say that when you start to buy it, it’s a bit confusing. Just go ahead and hit the blue Buy now button. And ignore my rambling.

  3. If you are a current subscriber and you renew, do you get 10 additional activations for the test software you download?

  4. Ryan, you don’t get additional activations with a renewal. You just get continued access to the product keys you already have plus all new downloads.

  5. Serdar, the two main differences are price and licensing. The cheapest MSDN sub is $699 and it doesn’t include any Office programs. You’d have to read the FAQ to see the licensing differences. Basically, though, MSDN is for programmers and TechNet Plus is for implementers and testers.

  6. I believe the amount you quoted for Professional Support is only partially correct. Professional Support for IT Pros is as much as $259 per incident for any Microsoft product, including Enterprise products. I believe the $59 number you quoted is strictly for Windows Vista support. It’s actually a better deal than you’d think.

  7. Thank you very much for the information! I’ve thought about getting an MSDN subscription, but I couldn’t really afford it. This seems more in line with my needs.

    I often think Microsoft doesn’t try hard enough to educate more tech-minded customers about the differences in their various product offerings… Or, perhaps, they just make it too complicated. The plugged-in corporate MS drone knows all about the distribution channels, but the IT entrepreneur spends hours researching their web site, trying to figure out what meets his needs in a cost-effective manner.

    OEM licensing is a good example of this. Most retail stores won’t sell an OEM license to a poor schmuck who simply needs to reformat his HD. But he threw away his backup CD or —more likely — never even got one. Geek squad double-dip: ka-ching! (Sorry to rant.)

  8. I have to say, that for an online transaction with nothing physically being transferred, it’s taking MS long enough to do anything with the order.

  9. Bryan, I had the same problem. It took about 3 days before I got the subscriber ID from them.

  10. Thanks Brad! I’m almost at the 48 hour waiting point.

    I’d like to hit the servers before the weekend when my kids start grabbing bandwidth. :-O

  11. I’m sold, Ed. Does the package include Home Server?

    Look forward to hearing you on Windows Weekly soon.


  12. Perhaps I’m too obtuse to understand the FAQs I read for this MS program, but it seemed to read that the save and print functions don’t work within these available applications. Am I wrong?

  13. Bill, I would need to see a link to understand what you’re referring to, but I can assure you that the software you get through this program is absolutely identical in every functional way to the versions you would get at a retail store.

    Alex, alas, the program does not currently include Windows Home Server. That may change in the future, but not for now.

  14. Ed,

    Home Server or no, I’m signing up. Thanks for the coupon code and thanks for all the information you provide on Microsoft.

    Great job on the Laporte-Thurott podcast. Looking to your MediaSmart Server first look webcast later this month.


  15. Nice to see Microsoft haven’t spotted that there is now over $2 to the £ – the UK price is £283.39, even taking away the 17.5% VAT that is still $498. So I wont be getting it any time soon. Something like £199 would be more like it.

  16. Ed, thanks a bundle for this! I read the FAQ’s and EULA- I’m a little confused. Say I wanted to set up 10 machines in my Lab to dual- boot Vista with XP, and have Office installed on all of them. Where am I getting the COAs or activation codes? I update all of the machines through Windows Update, and make images of all the Hard Drives. What happens if I forget to renew my subscription a year later? Do these boxes implode or lock up? Just want to make sure I understand B4 plunking any $250- But if this is true, it’s a terrific investment!

  17. Fred, there’s a Product Key page where you get to request keys for individual products. Each key is good for 10 separate activations on different hardware, and the license is perpetual, meaning it doesn’t expire if your subscription runs out. The reason to renew your subscription is to get access to new releases, not to maintain access to old ones.

  18. Could someone contrast the Technet product with the MS Action Pack program, which also gives you 10 licenses? It appears that Action Pack can be used for business purposes and does not include as many products.
    I have been an Action Pack subscriber for years, but would want to change to TechNet based on this descirption…

    Thanks for the info!

  19. Ed,

    After the year is up, can you still do fresh installs on up to 10 systems, in total? (I understand you can continue using the software you’ve already installed.)

  20. Thanks for the coupon, this will be a nice saving. As for all the differences and finding out max and next year licences… how much do you want to be paid to use the software? This is a good deal, so simply take it and pay for it, you are getting great value. For the diff with Action pack. AP is not for lab, you have the right for a year to use the products live in your bussines. For the others wanting more than 10 licences for 25$/piece sounds like something you should renew. not often can you be legit for this cheap… at this price and you still don’t want to pay, there are places you can “get” software for free at your own risk. why buy it, if you are not respecting the contract? stealing an egg or a pig is worse? not recongizing a deal is sad.
    Here’s a real tip; the next time you buy something ie future shop and Best Buy, go to the expensive place and get the price slashed an added % difference from the price match. this will be real savings, enjoy.

  21. OK, I don’t mean to sound thick here, but does this mean that someone could pay $249 for this subscription, then download & install all-you-can-eat from a selection of Microsoft appilcations over the course of the following year, including evaluating those apps on more than one PC (getting a separate license/key for up to ten installations), all of which would remain fully useful and functioning even after the subscription expires? Meaning, for example, that the $249 I just spent for Office 2007 Small Business could have instead bought me this subscription which would have included Office 2007 Small Business plus much more? Or am I missing something?

  22. B.D., the difference is in the license. You cannot legally use the TechNet copies to do actual work. The software is for evaluation purposes only. So if you’re using Office Small Business in your work, you still need the purchased license.

    DJ, the Action Pack is for registered members of the System Builders program. It’s intended for use by people who sell Microsoft products for a living.

    B. Goodman, the software inventory includes a download (which you can then burn to CD/DVD) and a license key that is good for 10 separate activations. Those activations are not tied to the subscription status at all.

  23. Ed;
    To be completely clear, as I understand, I can evaluate all downloaded software on my home network (read “Dear God I have teenagers” :-)) in perpetuity???
    As I already “plunked down” the cash, I’m hoping I read this stuff right!
    Thanx again for the post in any case.
    (Gosh, sure hope we don’t stress Roadrunners bandwidth!!!) My stuff was coming down at 860k/sec.!)

  24. DJ, you’ll have to read the license agreements for yourself and decide what is and isn’t permitted. I can tell you how the program works but can’t make judgment calls for you…

  25. Without the promo code the TechNet sub costs $349 in the USA – but exactly the same subscription costs $566 in the UK (£283).

    Even allowing for 17.5% VAT (tax) that’s $156 more!

    What a rip-off.

  26. In the current TechNet newsletter, Microsoft are promoting TechNet Plus in the UK for £188+VAT. Offer ends 29 Feb 2008.

    I haven’t signed up yet, but I’m now very tempted 🙂

    I do have one question: Are the 10 products keys for each version of (say) Windows Vista or are you only allowed a maximum of 10 activations for the lot?

    What I mean is: Could I activate 10 copies of Vista Utlimate and activate 10 copies of Vista Business?

    It is highly unlikely I would ever get anywhere near this maximum, but it would be useful to know nonetheless.

  27. Tabby,

    You get a key for each Vista edition, and each key allows 10 activations. So that would be 10 copies of Ultimate and 10 copies of Business and 10 copies of Home Basic and ……

  28. Thanks Ed, that’s handy to know as I carry out some client software testing and often need to rebuild a laptop and consequently would need to re-activate Vista each time.

    Whilst it may not be necessary to activate Vista for pure test purposes, I have been caught out on a few occasions where I have revisited a particular test machine, only to find the grace period has expired and been unable to retest the software.

    Sounds like TechNet Plus will meet my needs, albeit I will need to check the licensing conditions carefully.

  29. It’s worthwhile to note that the Activation Pack gives you licenses for regular, commercial purposes, where the TechNet subscription is for evaulation purposes only. Software included with each package is slightly different, but both inlude the main OSes and Office apps.

  30. When you say the license is perpetual, does that mean you can continue to activate the software beyond one year, and pass WGA validation tests? It seems obvious that this ought to be the case, but you never know. Sorry for asking, if it’s a stupid question.

  31. The code “TMSAM08” does not work as of today 24th Jan 2008. It returns “The promotion code you entered is no longer valid.”

  32. I just went to a technet event yesterday and they were giving away free technet plus subs there right on the spot. we are talking about $349 off!

  33. I have been looking at getting the Technet Plus subscription for quite a while, but never bit until the $100 off promo. As a newly minted MCSE (as well as quite a few other MS and other industry standard certs that I’ve had for a while), I think the Technet Plus sub will help with alot of the stuff that is impossible to learn or reinforce in a live production environment or even a corporate testing environment limited by licensing constraints. Granted, there are limited time trial versions of the new products as well, but it’s definitely nice to know that I’ll have the product without the need to rebuild a box once I have everything working EXACTLY like I want it to work and then -poof- the trial expires.

    Guess I’ll have to spring for some “real” server hardware for my home lab now 🙂

    Ed, are there any plans to extend a complimentary Technet subscriptions to those earning major end certifications (MCITP: EA, MCPD, MCA, etc) in the future? I know at one time MS did that, but I guess it got a little pricey for them.

  34. The current best promo code I have for Technet subscription is TMSAML06 and will get you a price of $209 US. Enjoy!

  35. ^^^
    +1 There are a few different codes you can enter. TMSAM04 still works and gets you a $100 discount.

    Great subscription. I’ve signed up for this and the AP a number of times over the past few years and by far this is the best solution for the home “eval” user. To stay in the clear at work, sign up for the Action Pack.

  36. I know it has been said but peopple must understand that if you are looking for software to use evryday for your personal computers then you will need to purchase legit copies. These aren’t just cheap liscenses. These liscense are for IT professionals to eveluate and test microsoft software to aid it support issues and the like. As someone who works in the industry I ask that people don’t abuse this subscription so microsoft doesn’t do away with it or start raising the price. If you are looking for a application pack for production please take a look at action pack. If you still don’t qualify, purchase the software from a retail outlet.

  37. Thanks for this. It finally gave me enough incentive to try out Vista, the result of which is that I’m now a Vista 64 convert. After years of paying full boat to essentially be an OS beta tester, it’s nice to see some value from Microsoft.

  38. I have downloaded the vista enterprise and I get the meaasge that the trial period is over and I need to purchase a license to contniue with the functinality of it. I thought with the tech net plus subscription I would be able to use it and update it as needed with not ime limits is this not a true case. please let me know.

  39. James, you have to go to your Product Keys page in TechNet, get a product key, and use that key to activate your copy.

  40. Technet Plus sounds like a great program, question, does it also let you download older version than what Microsoft is currently pushing. With the change to 64-bit, I need access to some older 32-bit stuff, ie. Exchange, SBS, etc.

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