Feeds

Microsoft secretly yanks TechNet product keys

Even own staff think it's a bug

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Microsoft has quietly changed the terms of its TechNet subscription service by reducing the number of product keys made available for download to its users, The Register has learned.

On 15 September Redmond lowered the number of product keys dished out to TechNet subscribers from 10 to a maximum of five, in Microsoft’s latest effort to stamp out software piracy.

However, MS made the switcheroo without first informing its subscribers of the tweak to its TechNet small print. Product keys are used by Microsoft and other software vendors to certify that a user's copy of a particular program is genuine, and they typically require online activation.

When the change occurred, even some of Microsoft’s own employees were apparently caught out by the product key reduction, with some telling customers that there was a bug in the system.

Some subscribers who later contacted Microsoft’s TechNet team were told that the company lowered the number of product keys made available for download as “additional security measures”.

The change hasn’t hit long-term subscribers to the service, because Microsoft left those keys in place.

“We did not take away any keys. Just the amount of keys available ‘ad hoc’ via the portal has been reduced, all previously claimed keys are still available,” it said.

“The reduction is due to an updated anti-piracy policy. More information will be made available for all customers soon.”

Microsoft's new policy means that TechNet Professional subscribers now get access to a maximum of five product keys, while TechNet Standard subscribers gain access to just two keys.

But as Reg reader Jon Aubrey – who tipped us off about the change – told us, new TechNet subscribers have been “stung hard” by the reduction.

“The first thing I knew about it was when I went to download a new key for MS Office 2010 and found there were no more keys to get out of my 10 keys, when I only had registered two of them,” Jon said.

“I contacted Microsoft twice and both times had the ‘there is a bug in TechNet, don't worry’ - until I was told to directly contact the TechNet team, who told me that they'd reduced the keys under our noses without informing us.”

El Reg has asked Microsoft to tell us more about the TechNet product key rejig, but it hadn’t got back to us with comment at time of writing. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you
Black Screen of Death plagues early Google-mobe batch
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.