TechNet, the popular Microsoft service that gave subscribers access to most of the software giant's products for an annual charge, will close this year.
A representative for Microsoft's PR agency in the United States, Waggoner-Edstrom, told iTnews the service was being retired and that evaluation offerings should be used instead.
"Microsoft has decided to retire the TechNet Subscription service, and focus on growing its free offerings, including cloud-based evaluation experiences through the TechNet Evaluation Center, expert-led learning through the Microsoft Virtual Academy, and community-moderated technical support through the TechNet Forums," the represenative said.
Microsoft evaluation software is typically set to expire in intervals of 90 and 180 days.
TechNet started in 1998 with software being distributed in large packets of Compact Discs and later via internet downloads.
For a moderate charge, US$149 and US$249 for the TechNet Standard and Professional subscriptions respectively, the service provided access to a large range of software with product keys for multiple activations on several devices.
The licensing agreements banned TechNet subscribers from using the software for commercial purposes and stated it was for evaluation only. This condition is thought to have been widely flouted however, with the software also being pirated.
Microsoft tried to reduce the illicit copying of its software by reducing the number of product keys for activation made available to subscribers, but the company has not stated if piracy was the reason for closing TechNet, only saying that "IT trends and business dynamics have changed'.
New subscriptions won't be accepted after August 31 this year, and they have be activated before the end of September.
Subscriptions will be honoured for a year until September 2014, and those with an active Microsoft Certified Trainer Accreditation will have access to the program until end of March next year.
Product keys for TechNet acquired software won't expire after the program dies, but the licenses associated with the products in question will.
The substantially costlier Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) scheme will be retained, ditto the Action Pack program for select partners. Both of these provide access to Microsoft software that can be activated.