Microsoft slashes number of TechNet keys for subscribers

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Piracy blamed as Microsoft cuts TechNet keys to three per product

Microsoft is reducing the number of Windows and Office product keys TechNet subscribers can obtain, in an attempt to thwart piracy.

TechNet is Microsoft's long-running subscription package for IT professionals, which allows them to get access to the full gamut of Microsoft software for an annual subscription fee.

The TechNet Standard subscription, for example, gives access to most of Microsoft's full products for $199 a year, including Windows and Office.

Two years ago, Microsoft cut the number of product keys for each product down from ten to five, in a bid to thwart piracy. Now, as first spotted by ZDNet's Ed Bott, Microsoft is reducing that number to just three keys per product, once again citing piracy as the reason.

Microsoft warns that once the maximum number of keys has been allocated for each product, no more will be made available without the purchase of an additional subscription. However, each key can have multiple activations.

In a statement, Microsoft said its hand had been forced by high levels of piracy on its subcription packages. "Microsoft offers discounted and free products for evaluation through a variety of programmatic offerings," Microsoft said in a statement sent to PC Pro.

"Over the past few months, pirates have exploited these programs and systems to obtain free or lower cost genuine product and have then resold at significant profit margins, depriving Microsoft and its partners of legitimate revenue and leaving users with an improperly licensed and unsupported product.

"Significantly lower prices have helped to undermine channel integrity and drive additional corruption. These changes help us mitigate piracy while helping us serve legitimate customers."

TechNet software is officially only meant to be used for evaluation purposes.

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