The Surly Admin

Father, husband, IT Pro, cancer survivor

Volume Licensing Dis-Service Center

The following is a post from a fellow IT person over at Spiceworks, Limey.  If you don’t know about Spiceworks, click the link over to the right and check it out.  If you’re an IT person for an SMB it may very well be the most valuable tool you’ve ever used!  Read on to see the recent problems Limey had with Microsofts new licensing portal.

We all have it happen at some point, a planned upgrade doesn’t go so well and you have no choice but to roll back to the way it was while you assess what went wrong and plan the next steps. Unfortunately it seems that if you are Microsoft having a fall-back position doesn’t apply.

Due to a planned transition from the functional, yet dated eOpen portal to the shiny, new Volume License Service Center customers were unable to access their licenses over the weekend. Something obviously did not go to plan as the new site was throwing error message on a steady basis until Wednesday morning. Unfortunately, just because the site was back up did not mean that all the problems were fixed. At the time of writing this, Microsoft’s Open License customers can not add new agreements and therefore can not obtain Product Keys or download software for them, leaving those agreements unfulfilled.

The only known workaround, according to Hector at the Microsoft Support Center and confirmed by CDW, is to contact Worldwide Fulfillment and have them ship physical media at no cost. Sounds great but if their inventory system shows only one copy of the product you need then you just may not get it for 10 business days. Some workaround! Microsoft no longer gives Open Business agreement vendors the option to ship media meaning that it’s either online or WW Fulfillment, but Open Value agreements can still obtain media through the vendor.

According to one of CDW’s Microsoft licensing experts it should not be necessary to actually add new agreements to the VLSC as this should happen automatically upon purchase. This is not how the actual site appears to be operating, there is a definite spot to add Open License agreements, it just doesn’t work, a fact confirmed by Nick, Raoul and Hector.

Multiple Google searches bring up nothing on this issue except one article at http://tonymackelworth.wordpress.com/2009/10/29/eopen-replaced-with-volume-license-service-centre-vlsc which is dated October 29. Maybe I’m the only Microsoft customer trying to get a product I purchased installed and operational but I know that’s not the case as the message for the Support Center has been changed to reflect the abnormal hold times. I would suggest calling the Support Center but the number is now busy. Trust me, it’s for the best – I have about 5 hours of hold time this week already, and their hold music isn’t that good.

After five days, and five hours of being on hold this has been escalated to a lead supervisor at the Support Center. I’m now getting High Visibility, which should mean hourly updates via email. He also pulled up the account and apparently did something as I just received three emails that I have been granted additional permissions. While I was on the phone I also received notification that my media has shipped, so now the race is on to see who can get this problem resolved first. Either way it has been an exceedingly frustrating experience, in my eyes Microsoft really dropped the ball on this one.

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December 10, 2009 - Posted by | Technical |

5 Comments »

  1. Well, the Tony Mackelworth blog has a couple of other unhappy customers now. I know the rest are out there, they just haven’t found anything about the issue yet.

    The VLSC site went down last night for maintenance, I think around 10pm, and it’s still in the same state. Look at it as a time-saver!

    My media arrived but I didn’t get around to installing it until about 9pm. Not very successful either, looks like I’ll need to rebuild the server and start over. Guess what really ticked me off? To call MS Professional Support and not pay you need the SA number, which I can’t get because, well, you know ^^.

    Comment by Martin | December 12, 2009 | Reply

  2. well, I was able to get my key by calling, but now I need the media, which is only downloadable and the site is down for maintenance… nice…

    Comment by Steve | December 12, 2009 | Reply

  3. Amazing, I did not heard about that till now. Thx!!

    Comment by Unfaiveepiree | December 12, 2009 | Reply

  4. Tony Mackelworth has an update on his blog, http://tonymackelworth.wordpress.com/2009/12/14/microsoft-update-on-vlsc/ but the official site still says “down for maintenance”. Do you think MS could spare one website editing capable person for about 5 minutes to update the page with more details?

    Here’s my post from Tony’s original thread:
    Well, no email for me so far. One would think that it would make more sense to actually take down the page that says the site is down for maintenance and replace it with the text of the email. That, however, would have two drawbacks. First, it would be a very public testament to their failure whereas right now only the affected businesses are aware. Second, it would require common sense and if they had that then this wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

    Guess I can scratch MS off the list of MRP vendors to investigate. And before anyone says I’m cutting off my nose to spite my face, consider that it’s the only place I can hurt MS, in their pocket.

    Tony, maybe instead of working so hard, MS should work smarter. Put the eOpen site back up and it gives them something that WE don’t have: time.

    Steve, the Worldwide Fulfillment line can send you physical media free of charge. You tell them it’s a media exception, give them the Case number. Just be aware they ship UPS Ground so it will take a couple of days. 800-336-0098,4,1

    Comment by Limey | December 14, 2009 | Reply

  5. Finally I’m at a point where I can say I have everything I need from Microsoft. My media and keys were provided earlier but I couldn’t rest until I was able to access my licenses online. Today I was able to do just that.

    Thanks to Eric Ligman and his blog for showing more response than I thought MS were capable of. Find him at:
    http://blogs.msdn.com/mssmallbiz/archive/2010/01/11/latest-update-on-microsoft-volume-licensing-service-center-vlsc.aspx

    Comment by Limey | January 15, 2010 | Reply


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