March 2017


Utilizing the benefits of action pack subscriptions


Beyond my 9-5 job as a systems engineer, I have started a small side business consulting in different aspects of Information Technology. As part of doing so, I went and invested in Microsoft’s Action Pack subscription, and I will say, if you qualify for it, would be one of the best investments you make.

this is my own opinion, if there is any affiliate program for this, I’m not aware of it. Just want to help those who could find this useful

What is action pack?

Action Pack is an annual subscription that you can get as part of becoming a Microsoft Partner (hence my starting statement that you need to qualify). with it, you get continuous access to most of Microsoft’s portfolio of software for production and development use.

What is required

You have to sign up as a Microsoft Partner, filling out the MON (Microsoft Partner Agreement). The main thing here would be that you must run a business where a main category of income can come at least in part from selling Microsoft products or services. If you don’t fit this criteria, sadly you are out of luck!


With the subscription, you get 3 MSDN professional subscriptions as part of your membership. For the named users in your organization you grant this right to, they have the ability to fully use MSDN as well as rights to a large chunk of Microsoft software to to development or lab testing with. this means for that user, they are free to go nuts with their lab environment, without having to worry about the timeout periods you’d run into with the regular evaluation versions!

Internal use rights

The big piece other than being able to set up a development lab at a reasonable price point, is the internal use rights for Microsoft software. The development labs have to be exactly for that, development. If you want to run a business, you need the licenses, CALS and all that jazz. This piece gives you that portion, allowing you a certain amount of Desktop, office and server software to be used in your company as long as you keep your subscription active. The numbers and amounts do change over time, but as of the time of writing I can give a few items you get right from the gate.

Cloud all the things!

Speaking of development and internal use, one of the other perks is that you get 100 dollars a month in free Microsoft Azure credit to utilize however you like! This is fantastic for learning how to do deployments in the cloud and testing anotmstiob you may be working on, without having to spend anything extra. I see it as my home lab sandbox I can access from anywhere!

On the Dynamics 365 piece which you get 5 licenses for as part of the subscripts you get access to level 2 of Microsoft Flow! This is a connect cloud service to service system that makes it easy to drag and drop automations together. If you’ve used zapier, this in the same ball park. I wished that they had more services available to connect to, but I can’t argue with free!

Do’s and don’ts

Major factor here, follow the letter of the law. Stay within the guidelines and you’ll be fine. Remember you can be audited by Microsoft and you don’t want to have to pay an unexpected bill because you used the software incorrectly. It’s like the IRS, you may never be audited, but you never want to take that chance.

When things say for development or internal use, that’s what they mean. Don’t use your software on clients systems, or load MSDN keys on your production hardware! I figure most of this is a given, but it never hurts to say again.

If you qualify, I can’t think if any reason not to sign up. It’s one of the best values in the business!


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