Microsoft have recently launched a new TechNet Evaluation Center, which has a much improved crisper looking user interface along with offering some new features.
This new-look TechNet Evaluation Center site provides users with the ability to personlize their experience with the portal, and captures/tracks the user’s participation in any evaluations, virtual labs, tech journeys, resources and more. The interface is also designed to be compatible across various mobile platforms and form factors such as tablets and smart phones which will no doubt prove useful to some.
However, despite the new fancy looking interface and an increased ease of use, the TechNet Evaluation Center doesn’t bring anything new to fill the gap left by the discontinuation of the Microsoft TechNet subscription programme, which provided IT Professionals with the ability to spin up Microsoft software in their lab without the worry of any time restrictions and loss of time in building out their lab environment when the evaluation period ends.
The Windows Server software continues to be downloaded for an evaluation period of 180 days and Microsoft desktop operating systems, such as Windows 8, having a 90 day evaluation period. The virtual labs on offer are generally 2 hours in duration which will be useful for learning a particular feature though not for spinning up and getting your hands dirty with the product for any length of time. Unless of course your happy to spin up multiple sessions and re-apply any changes to settings, etc that you may have made. That said, the virtual labs are certainly a welcomed service and do provide significant value.
It’s good to see Microsoft making the interface to access both evaluation and virtual labs easier and more accessible, though this is one techie that would definitely welcome the return of the TechNet subscription programme, purely for the increased flexibility in the lack of time restrictions applied.