I have a Microsoft Open License, a developers license to many of Microsofts products. Today I wanted to evaluate Crystal Report for user at a customer of mine. While this seems easy enough it took me several hours to manage this “small” task. Here’s roughly what happend.
First off, my agreement with Microsoft recently expired and I had bought a renewal which had to be activated. Fair enough, according to the letter I had recieved I should visit a site at eopen.microsoft.com and so I enter the address and waited. Nothing. Was the server down? After waiting again some 20 minutes “for the server to come back” I realized that on the paper it said https and not http. I entered https and there was a reply! How could they not redirect to (or at least inform about) the secure site on the normal address/port?
20 minutes wasted.
Well into the site I found my old agreement, found an “add agreement” link and added the new one. Done and done… or so I thought. I switched over to msdn.microsoft.com where I downloaded software before but here I’m still met by a message telling me my subscription is out. The two systems don’t seem synced and after som frustrating clicking about on both sites I conclude that I must enter a “benefit access code” which I’ve never heard of before. I try my agreement number(s) but no success. I go back to the eOpen site and check my agreements and they are still there, one of them active until 2010. I randomly click on every link I can find (and there are tons) in hope of finding where to get my benefit access code and I end up on the most diverse places all over Microsofts network. After about 1 hour of frantic clicking and searching I found a page that obviously had a blocked pop-up window I had overlooked, turns out this pop-up contained a agreement acceptance that I had to sign.
1 hour wasted.
With the agreement accepted I found I still could not access my licenses but I still figured I needed that benefit access code. After some clicking in the menu I found that I could assign my agreement to an employee (…and since I’m self employed I quickly assigned everything I could to myself), I added subsription options and lo and behold, in red text, “benefit access code”! I jump over to the MSDN site, enter my name, e-mail and the magic code…. and it’s rejected. I spend some time trying to figure this one out and decide I’ll wait for an introduction e-mail I’ve been promised by the system (maybe the code wasn’t active yet?).
30 minutes wasted.
An e-mail arrives with the access code, the exact same one I tried before. I hit it again and still I’m rejected. I try a couple of combinations only to find myself locked out of the login-system for entering the wrong information to often.
10 minutes wasted.
During my 10 minutes time-out period (it said 5 minutes but I was by this time furious with the system and had also recieved a survey from Microsoft to evaluate their website which I was delighted to take… I think I answered at least a couple of questions with something other than the worst possible option) I read my mail carefully and found that somehow, somewhere, my first and last names where switched. I entered MSDN again and entered the information again, but with my first and last names switched. Success!
5 minutes not entierly wasted, I did get in now!
Finally into the system. Now, let’s download Crystal Report which is a tool often used with Visual Basic. I search for Crystal Report. No result. I search for Visual Basic and get several options. I choose to download one of them and the download manager installs on the computer (this was not my regular computer so it did not have the downloader installed). After the installation the downloader starts… and stops… and freezes the machine. Reboot. Logout. Go home.
Only a few minutes wasted in the sense that I gave up and went home.
From home I have my work laptop connected and finally manage to download Visual Basic 6.0. I burn the two ISO-files to CDs and I install Visual Basic. All through the installation I search for options to include Crystal Report but find nothing. When the installation is complete and I search through the program options but can’t find it there either. Finally I go back to searching the Internet and find a Knowledge Base article describing it’s position. It feels like a treasure map. On one of the CD’s (though different one for every distribution) 4 levels down in a folder structure an Crystl32.exe is found! I double click it, install it and … where did it go? Poff. Gone? Re-reading the instructions I find that it does not create any shortcuts (why would they start now?) rather I either find it in the directory structure of Visual Basic or in the Add-in menu. Finally… and this last bit only took a little over an hour but at least there was steady progress all the time.
In conclusion… Microsoft, seriously: SIMPLICITY please!