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Microsoft tightens squeeze on TechNet parasites

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Microsoft is restricting the software available on IT-pro hangout TechNet to thwart illegal use of its gear.

The company is removing software not intended for use in an "IT professional managed business environment" – such as the Home Edition of Windows XP – while products no longer covered by its extended support cycle have also vanished.

Also gone are "redundant or multiple instances" of products – for example, standalone versions of apps such as Outlook will be cut but the full Office suite will remain.

Among other changes, Microsoft is restricting use of all software available to the 12-month period of a TechNet subscription. All the changes are due to come into effect "in the coming weeks".

Microsoft said here it's changing the rules of TechNet in order to: "[b]etter reflect the intent of the program – aiding IT professionals in evaluating current Microsoft software and to help protect the integrity of the subscription from unsupported use."

Translation: cut down on abuse by those who install the software on PCs or servers for work purposes or play time, or who let others borrow their subscription. The rules of TechNet are clear: you can only use software for testing and evaluating with accounts only being used by the named subscriber.

In March, Microsoft cut back on the number of product activation keys it hands out to TechNet subscribers, to members of the Microsoft Developer Network and Software Assurance programme and as part of its marketing giveaways because of piracy.

Microsoft said pirates were using the keys to obtain free or lower-cost products that they were selling at "significant" profit margins.

Suspensions for abusing the terms of TechNet, meanwhile, are not uncommon.

In June 2011, a Reg reader contacted us to say his TechNet account had been suspended, with the reason given by Microsoft that he'd "abused the terms" of his membership.

He denied abusing his account, and said the problem might have been that he had 'fessed up to using a Linux computer.

A spokesperson for Microsoft told us at the time that TechNet subscriptions are reviewed regularly to determine if product usage meets the programme's subscription's licence terms.

Thanks to Reg reader Tom for the tip on the TechNet rules change. ®

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