Microsoft has reduced the number of product keys available to TechNet subscribers from ten to maximum five, for security reasons.

The change was first related by Microsoft blogger Paul Thurrott, less than a week ago, qualifying it as a supposed TechNet bug and on September 19, he updated his bog and confirmed it was intentional.

Apparently this reduction of the number of product-license keys was done without notice, according to The Register, even if Microsoft says it was mainly a security measure, meant to prevent piracy.

Here is Microsoft’s response to Mary Jo Foley’s questions about the change in the number of product-license keys:

“Microsoft is committed to helping prevent software piracy, which often results in end users being the victims of software counterfeiters.

“Counterfeiters abuse product keys to create fake software packages and distribute these to the public.

“These packages are not licensed, do not have support, and can also include malware and spyware.

“Therefore, Microsoft has decided to limit the number of product keys available through TechNet Subscriptions, for all products, to five for TechNet Professional and two for TechNet Standard.

“TechNet Subscriptions is intended to support software trial and evaluation, versus a production environment.

“We offer other programs for volume purchasing and installation; we believe this change maintains a sufficient number of product keys for the majority of our customers based on usage data, while greatly reducing the overall risk of piracy and counterfeiting.

“We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this action may have caused our subscribers.”

So now, TechNet Professional subscribers will now have a maximum of five product keys, while TechNet Standard subscribers will get access to just two keys.

All TechNet subscribers should know that Microsoft will not reduce the number of product keys provided to its MSDN licensees.

Previously to September 15, TechNet subscribers got 10 product keys as part of their subscription price.

A TechNet Standard subscription costs $199 ($149 for an upgrade) and the rice for a Professional subscription is $349 ($249 for a renewal).

For people who want to have media included, a TechNet subscription costs $599 ($499 for a renewal).

These subscriptions give access to Windows, Office, SharePoint, CRM, ERP and a wide range of other Microsoft software as part of the licensing fee.

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,” the company said, according to The Register.

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