It Should Not Be This Difficult

Categories: The Server Room
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Published on: July 19, 2012

My summer has been going very smooth.

Then my Windows gear showed up.

Look, I fully support the business teacher’s decision to stick with PCs in her lab. She is more comfortable teaching MS Office, and the students should get some exposure to Windows and Office. However, just setting up the new server and PC laptops has been an exercise in frustration.

First, apparently vendors can’t just give us license keys anymore. I had to call an 800 number and work through a communications barrier to retrieve the license key for Office 2010. She took down basic information: my name, my company, my license/enrollment information, my product name, and my email address. Then she just emailed me a license key.

Why could I not just punch this information into a website and have it spit the information back at me? It would have been a lot faster and easier.

Then after I punched in the code, Office 2010 refused to activate. It would only tell me “be sure you are connected to the Internet.” Of course, I was. Surfing in any browser worked like a champ. I could ping out to various locations just fine. I even made sure the content filter wasn’t blocking me, and I tried again. No dice.

I clicked activate by phone, and was presented with this screen:

Eat a Dick, Microsoft
They’ve got to be kidding.

This time it was all automated, and I had to type in this 54-digit code. I typed it in because apparently the voice prompt doesn’t understand plain English any better than the Asian woman on the Office activation line. I entered the 48-digit response code it recited, then tried to get it to read it back to me, but it never did figure it out. After three rounds of my saying “continue” and it responding “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that” I started heaping abuse upon it in the hope someone will listen to the recorded alleged conversation.

At first, Office didn’t activate. I closed it, restarted the program, and voilá, it was happy.

Then on to my new server. This time I logged on to their volume licensing website (which, for some reason, I could not use for Office) and was presented with a long list of licenses. I bought one copy of Windows 2008 Server, but it gave me keys for two pages’ worth of versions and service packs. I tried one key, the server rejected it. Tried another key, and fortunately that one took.

It should not be like this. I don’t juggle these problems on the Apple side, not even on the servers. Apple’s access keys come with a nice sticker I can attach to my equipment so it doesn’t get lost when I reinstall. Even using the App Store for OS X 10.7 going forward will be faster and easier than Microsoft’s licensing mess.

Get it together, Microsoft. This is a step back, and only reinforces the perception that working with Microsoft is all pain and frustration. This is exactly what chased me to Linux years ago, and now to Apple, and it’s exactly what is making many of my colleagues consider the same move.

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