Microsoft has responded to the uproar among Windows users over the cancellation of its popular TechNet subscription scheme by extending the service for some users.
The program allowed customers wanting to trial software to download full versions at a low cost.
In response to feedback, Microsoft announced existing subscribers will get a 90-day extension if their accounts expire between September 1 this year and September 30 next year, providing continued access to downloads and support. Volume Licensing Program customers are exempted from the extension.
The free extension provides additional time for customers to prepare for TechNet retirement, Microsoft said.
Eligible Asia-Pacific customers will be notified of extended subscriptions via email over the next few weeks.
Another change that Microsoft hopes will ameliorate customers is the availaibility of past versions of software in the TechNet Evaluation Centre, such as Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.
The TechNet Evalution Centre provides access to free Microsoft downloads for trial and testing which are fully-featured but "time-bombed" so that they expire after a certain period of time, usually between 30 to 180 days.
Failing a resurrection of TechNet, an online petition started by Cody Skidmore calls on Microsoft to create a more affordable version of the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscription service, without the Visual Studio development environment and associated tools.
The petition by IT professionals, independent software vendors and Microsoft-certified trainers has gained almost 11,000 signatures.
An MSDN subscription that provides similar access to software as TechNet costs $9755 with a $4096 renewal charge. The full version of MSDN costs $21,202, and to renew it annually, $6775.
In comparison, Microsoft's three versions of TechNet subscriptions with varying access to software cost $337, $618 and $1048 respectively.