Microsoft Action Pack Subscription – What it is and Why you Need it

by Daniel Petri - January 8, 2009

Microsoft Action Pack Subscription – What it is and Why you Need it

Many MCSE students and serious IT Professionals set up their own test networks to learn the latest and greatest in software that Microsoft has to offer. In my opinion, there is no better way to learn Microsoft Networking than to actually plan, build and administer your own network. One problem that most students come across is getting all of the software that is necessary to setup and build your own network. Yeah, you can use evaluation copies but they are not available for all products and are also a hassle to deal with. You can also purchase the software for your home network but this also is not very practical and will cost you thousands of dollars just to set up a “practice” network.

Let me offer you an alternative; a Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (enter the full name into Google and you will see multiple listings for it). A Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (MAPS for short) provides you with a CD Case/Holder FILLED with valuable Microsoft software, basically just about everything that they make.

For example, the April 2009 quarterly update content includes:

  • Microsoft Virtual PC 2007(via download)
  • Windows Small Business Server 2008 Standard Edition(localized versions)
  • Windows Essential Business Server 2008 Standard Edition(localized versions)
  • Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008(via download)
  • Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2007 SP1(via download)
  • Microsoft System Center Essentials 2007 SP1(via download)

I am talking about full working copies of Microsoft software (take a look at the full list, it's impressive). This is just the start and all of them allow for multiple activations (i.e. Windows Vista business and Office 2007 allow for up to 10 activations, but there are more options included!). In all, there are around 50 CDs and you get quarterly updates featuring all of Microsoft's newest releases.

So what's the catch?  Well, a couple of things (3 actually).

First, you have to be a Microsoft partner. WAIT, don't stop reading, becoming a Microsoft partner may sound intimidating but it is easy and is FREE!  You can become a Microsoft partner if you are a consultant, teacher, support provider, etc.

Second, you must follow the licensing requirements. The software in MAPS is licensed as Not for Distribution (NFD). This is not an exact interpretation, but basically you can't use this software in other businesses, on your mom's computer, on one of your customer's computers, etc. It is for your "practice" network.

Third, it costs money; $299 per year to be exact. No, this is not small change but the amount of software that you are getting is easily in excess of $10,000. It is well worth it!  Are you interested?  You probably want to start here:

https://partner.microsoft.com

This is the home page for the Microsoft partner program where you can determine whether or not you qualify to become a Microsoft Partner.  If you are serious about your IT career I highly recommend the $299 investment, it is well worth the money.

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Contributing Author: Scott Skinger

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