Kevin Leach, the president of Trump Systems Inc. of Brampton, Ont., went online on New Year’s Eve to buy some Microsoft Open licenses for his client. A simple process, he thought. Leach’s experience end up being anything but simple.
He was hoping to get the paperwork in on time to qualify for some special rebates that would pad his margins.
The process for acquiring Open licenses was something he was used to and liked the 24-hour turnaround time. What Leach did not realize was that on Dec. 16th Microsoft changed the process for obtaining Open licenses.
According to Corinne Sharp, Microsoft Canada’s national director for partner sales and marketing, the new process was intended to speed up the acquisition for licenses for solution providers.
“The reason why we upgraded was to improve the customer experience. The channel had multiple tools and interfaces to go through. We needed to make it easier so we merged the tools into VLSC (Volume Licensing Service Centre). We have an integrated approach now and solution providers can track and manage licenses easier,” she said.
VLSC is Microsoft’s main online portal for licensing information, downloading software and managing volume licensing benefits and subscriptions.
For Leach the new process had him waiting 48 hours to get an acknowledgment of the order from Microsoft. Then Leach waited another 48 hours to be given permission to download the software. After that, Leach was unable to download the software because his customer, a local construction company, did not have a WindowsLive ID. The problem Leach has with the new system is that it did not inform him of this key requirement. “This new process is not as smooth as it could have been. There was no warning that my request would not be processed. If a customer does not have a WindowsLive ID the order goes into limbo,” he said.
Leach called the Microsoft Help Desk where he was told that the customer needed a WindowsLive ID.
“It reminded me of a 1960s sitcom where the husband gets the cold shoulder from his wife and he asks ‘what’s wrong’ only to hear ‘well, if you don’t know then I won’t tell you!’”
Sharp does sympathize with Leach and admitted the volume of calls to the call centre did go up dramatically shortly after the launch. However, the volume of calls has returned to a normal level. Sharp said that Microsoft Canada is worked proactively to speed up the process and said that it should return to a 24 hour turnaround shortly.
Her ultimate goal is for solution providers to have a two-hour turnaround with this new process.
The new process is exactly that; a process and the company is going through an evolution so that channel partners can easier track and manage assets, Sharp added.
Trumps’ customer was unhappy over the delays. The software was eventually installed and everything is running smoothly, Leach said.
Sharp recognized that these delays have led to customer dissatisfaction, but that Microsoft was actively addressing these concerns especially for smaller customers who do not have a dedicated IT person on staff to manage the IT assets.
As for customers requiring a WindowsLive ID, it’s a matter of security. Customers ultimately own the license and the software even if they hand over permission to their IT environment to a solution provider, Sharp said.
During the first month of this new process Microsoft Canada learned that many customers forgot that they even had a WindowsLive ID or the person with the ID left the organization and did not tell their supervisor and this led to delays. Sometimes there was a merger or an acquisition and the ID gets lost. “We need to help the customer and the partner through that. This might have been inconvenient, but the customer is legally responsible and it is all about protecting the assets and the data,” she said.
Leach would like to see the process of obtaining Open licenses done in real time. “It’s just another thing to spend time on when I am already short of time,” he said.