Microsoft Sucks (and not in a nice way)

This evening has been one of those frustrating events where you begin to question whether you really know anything about computers at all. Having had a really pleasant last couple of days introducing a range of teachers and students to the wonders of blogs and wikis I came home tonight to do a little updating on the new Lenovo Thinkpad that I had purchased, having left my school and the leased notebook that accrues to teachers in the Victorian Edcuation Department. Though I now own a Macbook that I really enjoy, I thought that as most of the schools I will potentially be working in have Lenovos, I should also purchase one of them also. My thinking is that it is just more re-assuring for teachers to see you using the same machine as them plus it is also easier to direct them to where you think they should go if you share a common machine.

Thinking a new computer would also be nice to have as the previous one was more than three years old I have been quite disappointed to have, on more than one occassion already, had to hit the “kill” button or have had apps quit unexpectedly. I also have become almost innured to the fact that Vista constantly wants to question my state of mind whenever I want to make even the most modest install or change to any of the applications. I just love the darkening screen that preceeds a stern warning message questioning everything but my parentage, almost any time I presume to do something other than word processing or the like.

Tonight though things really got serious. The said laptop came pre-installed with a 60 day trial version of Microsoft Office, (which still has some 30 days left to run I should add). Given that I have begun to rely on this laptop, (though given this discussion I am wondering seriously why I do this??), I decided to convert the trial version into a fully operational version. My wife and I have a three user licensed copy of Microsoft Office Professional that we have only used two of the licences for which I figured I could load up.

Now according to Microsoft’s site,

“You can convert your trial version anytime during or after the trial period.”

Following the instructions as shown above, (at least I thought I was), I endeavoured to enter said product key but was told this key was invalid. After checking the help etc I found that somehow my trial version of Word was now corrupted and wanted to restart every time I wanted to shut it down. In addition I was unable to access any of the Word Options which should have enabled me to activate or change the status of the application.

Deciding that maybe I would try the phone helpline I checked out the details online only to find that Microsoft reserve the right to charge $80 or more for whatever they regard as other than a standard assist. With this in mind I rang with a little trepidation to be greeted by the standard options, “If you want ABC, press 1 etc, etc”. Having done the menu press through three menus I was finally asked to give the activate number that I was seeking to find out. Having endured the recorded voice saying that it couldn’t understand my silence for the mandatory three times I was finally forwarded to a real person. Now this person was on rather dodgy line which combined with a fairly heavy accent made the conversation rather hard to continue. Finally, after some eight or nine minutes, the consultant decided that I needed someone else to deal with my enquiry. Accordingly he gave me a new number and path to call which I duly did only to find myself in the same menu as before finally arriving at basically the same place I had been previously complete with the recorded voice asking for my non-existent activation code. After the three non-responses I was greeted by a nice cheery female consultant who, after suggesting that I uninstall the trial version and then install the purchased version, again decided I needed help from higher up.

This time I was placed on hold with music that made even elevator music seem faintly appealing. The next consultant finally came online and wanted to know my full name and other details. Being wary of possible dollar charges for this service I suggested that he really didn’t need this information to which after two or three minutes of ever more increasingly strident conversation, he finally agreed. Having been taken through all of the steps suggested by the previous two consultants I was again confronted with the suggestion that the only option was the un-install my trial version. This of course complete with the need to backup and store pst files, contacts etc before re-installing essentially the same program and then associating all the files again. Upon telling him that the Microsoft website suggests that I really didn’t need to do this, after again another ten minutes on the phone, it was suggested I again needed an even higher level of technical expertise. So once again it was bak to the rather blary music, this time punctuated by the annoying reminder that I was important, followed by other suggestions that I could always go online and submit my query in this format, as if.

Finally, some ten minutes later, I was able to speak to another very heavily accented male consultant who again wanted to know all my personal details under the premise that he might need to call me back……. Having convinced him that for all intents and purposes I was John Smith whose phone number was XXXXXXXX, (pick any digits you want to insert in place of the X’s, he again led me down the same set of procedures that consultant 1, 2 & 3 had taken me. By this time, some 65 minutes after I commenced my quest, and with my sugar levels running dangerously low, (after all it was dinner time), I knew what was coming next, the suggestion that I un-install and re-install. By now I was so well versed in the spiel that I actually suggested back to my consultant friend what he was going to tell me next, to unistall etc to which he suggested that was indeed his solution though if I was unhappy he could always pass me onto his supervisor.

By this stage I had had enough and given that there was already a corruption in my Trial Word I decided that 70+ minutes was more than enough time to chat with call centres on foreign shores and I bade my friend and Microsoft goodnight. Now all I have to do is backup and un-istall, surely this won’t take 70 minutes, will it?? Stand by…..

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11 Responses to Microsoft Sucks (and not in a nice way)

  1. That’s hilarious! And all too common… I’ve had a few of those nightmare calls myself lately… including one yesterday to 3 Mobile to ask why my new Nokia phone insists on using a different network access point to the one I think it ought to be using, but how on earth can they take 75 minutes to tell me this (and still provide a non answer)

    I usually make my phone calls using Skype, and it’s handy to record THEM for my own customer assurance program! Maybe I should string a few together and release it as a podcast!

    Sorry to hear of your woes John! I’m going to go and hug my Mac now and tell it that I love it…

  2. johnp says:

    Yo Chris,

    Damn, next time it will definitely be a Skype call, oh what fun that would be to play back 🙂

  3. Lucy Barrow says:

    John, whilst I had a good laugh at the way you described your situation, it is all quite sad, isn’t it? “…the darkening screen that preceeds a stern warning…” in Vista…aaah yes, that is why you will hear a chorus all the way from Ballarat past Geelong…”Bloody Vista!”
    I am amazed how companies like Microsoft have the nerve to suggest that they might charge US for their technical “support”. Seems to me that they should be paying YOU for the time you wasted in getting their software to function properly and legally. John, I really hope you have much better luck with the “uninstall and reinstall”!
    Lucy 🙂

  4. Jo McLeay says:

    Ohhhh John…. That’s not a good story although an all too common one. With such a large share of the market I guess they think they can get away with it. I agree with Lucy what a nerve!!

  5. Dear John,

    I have been through this scenario a couple of times with various iterations of Windows. I though that I would never be rid of them, but have finally switched to mac and to Google (corporate version). Neither is infallable but at least I don’t get all the Microsoft monitoring.

    I also thought that you might like to have a look at our beta schools website – it’s entirely free but we have had far less uptake in Australia than in countries like New Zealand. Part of the reason is probably the local dominance of Mathletics, but then again they have Microsoft as a shareholder (which geven your blog might not be such a benefit in the long run)

  6. Hey, John, sometimes it is easier to teach maths and just use pen and paper. I am passionate about the emerging technologies but they can be so frustrating sometimes and as for people or machines who answer help lines…….!!!

  7. Matt Gilbert says:

    I have a one word suggestion to end all of this frustration.


  8. eddie says:

    I am ready to try linux….sounds very stable…..

  9. David says:

    Tell Microsoft How you Feel “REALLY”

    Give People a free upgrade to Windows 7 if they have a Valid Vista Product Key Number OR., Give people download rights to TechNet, MSDN, to download an updated Copy there Windows Vista Service Split stream ISO.. so far Microsoft Sucks! Personally i am forced to use Microsoft due to the fact you dominate the software and its unfair charging people for software that is WAY WAY Overpriced for the average low income people… i would steal from you and give to the pore. you make me sick Microsoft. i hope bill gates falls off the face of the Earth. I would Burn my CD in front of the Redmond office and Protest how Microsoft Sucks and i would not even piss on it to put out the fire!

    Burn in hell Microsoft

    Pass this on to them

  10. Mariane says:

    I have been using Open Office for years because otherwise I kept getting problems of the “incompatible type” kind between different versions of .doc documents. And because of the great number of annoying features in MicroShit Office. But now they are trying to turn Open Office into a clone of MSO, so where can I go?

    Are more people going to use Open Office if it becomes a clone of MSO? I don’t think so. Many people have MSO preinstalled at work but if they want OO they have to install it themselves. If it becomes a clone of MSO, why should we bother?

    Anybody knows an “Intelligent Office” out there? Something which does not think that 1.04 is a date even after I have specifically told it it was a number? Something which does not feel it has the right to corrupt my data by arbitrarily turning 1.04 into a date with not even a warning? Something which does what I tell it to do and not what it thinks I should be doing?

  11. Guy says:

    Microsoft rules! For real yo!

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