Microsoft has reduced the number of product keys available to TechNet subscribers to 5 for Professional and 2 for Standard, down from the previous 10.
The new limits come into force for new TechNet subscribers in a move undertaken with such stealth that it had caught Microsoft blogger Paul Thurrott by surprise , initially calling the reduction a bug in TechNet according to The Register.
Microsoft issued a statement about the reduction in product licence keys as follows:
“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."
The company said TechNet subscriptions are intended to support software trial and evaluation rather than a "production environment" and went on to say that Microsoft offers "other programs for volume purchasing and installation."
In other words Microsoft doesn't want businesses using TechNet as a cheaper way to use Microsoft products.
"We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this action may have caused our subscribers," they said.