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MSDN Subscription Terms Vastly Curtailed

Like many of my professional colleagues who research and write about Windows, I’m an MSDN subscriber. Thanks to some great gigs in the past three years I’ve actually upped my ante to around $1,600 a year for the MSDN Premium-level subscription so as to gain access to developer tools as well as MS Office, and the usual collection of desktop and server operating systems. Late last week, Ed Bott served notice through a blog post entitled “To fight piracy, Microsoft tightens MSDN and TechNet terms again,” where he lays out the following changes to these programs that are bound to have a chilling effect on subscriptions for folks like himself and me:

  • Fewer license keys: For MSDN subscribers, the number of product keys for client software (including Windows OSes) and MS Office drop from 10 to 5 for current versions, 3 for older versions. TechNet subscribers still get 3 keys per version.
  • Fewer keys per day: For both MSDN and TechNet subscribers the total number of keys one can claim daily drops from over 50 to 10. This is intended to curb pirates who have been milking subscriptions to sell illegal OS and application copies as quickly as possible.
  • Fewer products: Today, subscribers can grab any version of MS Office plus standalone programs in the Office suite (that is, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and so forth). Under the new regime, only full suites will be available, and older versions of software gone (no more Office 97 or Windows 98, for example).
  • No more perpetual software rights: TechNet users lose perpetual license rights to software they download. Today’s subscribers can continue to use software even after an active TechNet subscription lapses. Under the new regime, when the subscription goes, so do the rights to use the software obtained while that subscription was still in effect.

There are some mitigating circumstances, however, that should ease potential pain to legitimate subscribers to these programs. Any valid product key can be activated multiple times, so three to five keys actually cover dozens of installations.  Legitimate subscribers can also ask for additional keys, and MS indicates it should be able to honor such requests in three business days. Should make life more interesting for TechNet subscribers, and more miserable for would be pirates. Arrrrrrrrr!

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