Windows 7 Tip of the Week
Save Even More Money with a TechNet Standard Subscription

Tip date: June 19, 2010
Tipster: n/a


IMPORTANT UPDATE: In September 2010, Microsoft changed the terms for its TechNet Standard and TechNet Professional subscriptions, as I originally reported in the September 20, 2010 Mailbag. Under the new terms, Microsoft is providing only 2 product keys, not 10, for Office 2007, Office 2010, Windows XP, and Windows 7 in TechNet Standard. --Paul


Back in April, I published a tip for saving a lot of money if you need to install multiple copies of Windows 7 (and other Microsoft software): Via a subscription service called TechNet Plus Direct, you could download and install multiple, full versions of Windows 7, Vista and XP, Windows Server 2008/R2 and 2003, Microsoft Office and standalone Office apps, and more, all for just $350. TechNet Plus was, and still is, a great deal. But this month, Microsoft has provided a new, lower-end version of TechNet called TechNet Standard. This one costs just $200, but provides access to almost all of the same software as TechNet Plus. (Only enterprise-class software is omitted.) So if you're really on a budget but want to learn more about Microsoft software, and need multiple PC installs, this is the new sweet spot.


The following information was originally provided in the April 9 tip, but updated for TechNet Standard:

TechNet Standard

TechNet Subscription is a subscription service that Microsoft aims at IT pros. There are various versions of the service at various price levels, but the new version you should consider is called TechNet Subscription Standard, or TechNet Standard for short. It costs $199 for a year ($149 for renewals), and includes online access to downloadable ISO files for various Microsoft operating systems and applications, including full versions of Windows 7, Vista and XP, Microsoft Office and standalone Office apps, and more. That's a lot of stuff. But it gets better. Consider the following:

It's forever. Even though the subscription lasts only a year, the product keys for the products you have access to won't stop working after a year. So while you will lose download access to those ISOs after a year, as long as you saved copies of them, you can reinstall over and over again. The product keys are forever.

It's for multiple installs. Each product key can be used to install up to 10 versions of the OS or application, for the most part. But that's actually 100 (yes, 100) installs for each Windows 7 product edition, because you can activate each key 10 times. So you get 100 installs of Windows 7 Ultimate, 100 installs of Windows 7 Professional, 100 installs of Windows 7 Home Premium, and so on. That's an incredible value, though it should be noted that this program is designed for a single person. You can't share the product keys with others. What you're getting, essentially, as an individual is multiple, unlimited installs of the products that are included with the subscription ... for yourself.

It's for multiple installs. Each product key can be used to install up to 10 versions of the OS or application, for the most part. The exceptions are Windows XP, Windows 7, Office 2007, and Office 2010, for which subscribers now receive 2 keys, not 10. But that's actually 20 installs/activations for each Windows 7 product edition, because you can activate each key 10 times. So you get 20 installs of Windows 7 Ultimate, 20 installs of Windows 7 Professional, 20 installs of Windows 7 Home Premium, and so on. That's still an incredible value, though it should be noted that this program is designed for a single person. You can't share the product keys with others. What you're getting, essentially, as an individual, is multiple, unlimited installs of the products that are included with the subscription ... for yourself.

They're full product versions. These are not time-limited products, and they're not upgrade versions. TechNet Subscription Standard supplies full product versions.

TechNet Plus

It's for non-commercial use only. While TechNet Standard is aimed at IT pros for testing purposes only, it's only real legal limitation is that these products cannot be used in production environments for commercial purposes. So you can't run your company's web site on a version of Windows Server you got from TechNet. But there's no reason you can't run them on your home computers. In fact, Microsoft specifically says in its TechNet Subscriptions FAQ that "the TechNet Subscription license terms grant one user the right to install the program software on any devices, including those located at his or her home ... one user may install and use the evaluation software, only to evaluate it. You may not use it in a live operating environment, a staging or production environment..."

You get free software updates. If you subscribe to TechNet Standard now and Microsoft releases, say, a new Windows or Office version during the time when your subscription is active, you'll get access to the new version in addition to the previously available version. Likewise, previous suported software versions are available as well.

It's inexpensive. If you want three or more copies of Windows 7 Home Premium, TechNet Standard is much less expensive than going the retail route, and by a wide margin. In fact, it's no contest.

The trick? You just need to understand that it exists. And now you do.