Microsoft licensing still sucks

Okay, I get a fair amount of free shit from Microsoft via Dreamspark, but I’ve also paid the Microsoft tax and even bought several products in my life time so I feel I’ve a right to complain.

A while back I downloaded the ISO from “Project 2016”, and today I finally got around to installing it because it became apparent trying to do without it was causing more harm than good. It mentioned something about disabling incompatible products, and then proceeded to eat Word 2013 - which I need, this whole weekend.

No problem, I uninstalled Project and went looking for how to restore Word. Apparently, you can’t do that: I need a product key, which I’m pretty sure I never got, to even access an installer. The frustrating thing is, when I view the licenses, I’ve very clearly still got an Office “ProPlus” time-based license still active on my machine. For those playing along at home, here’s the command to inspect licenses if you have Office 2013 installed on a 64-bit Windows OS:

cscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\OSPP.VBS" /dstatus

Apparently if you get Office through your school, it doesn’t work like Dreamspark - they give you a subscription to Office 365 (the online travesty that somehow manages to be worse than Google Docs) which may or may not include the actual programs (mine does). I’m using a Microsoft Live account that was my old Skype account, because I really don’t give a shit and OneDrive is a complete abortion, but there’s no Office license on there. So I thought (before contacting support) that maybe I had another account based off my school email, so I tried resetting that password, at least five or six times, each time being told that account didn’t exist. I checked my old Live account that’s tied to a hotmail, there isn’t a license there either.

I went through two Microsoft “Help Agents” (I think that’s what they’re called), Aditya and Yvonne, both of whom connected to my computer and did the usual bullshit of trying to find Word “no it’s not installed on your computer” (I know this), “it doesn’t look like you ever had it” and my favourite “you were using a trial version and it’s expired”. No, I don’t think I’ve been using a trial version three years after I bought my laptop.

After reiterating my attempts to support multiple times, trying to find ways to dig keys out of the registry or anywhere else they might live (and learning that after Office 2010 it’s pretty much impossible), being told “if you can’t give us the product key, you can buy it again for $10/month”, and being hung up on by the second support tech for saying (quoted verbatim, no profanity whatsoever) “this is a nightmare”, I start thinking about whether I want to try and convert my document to something LibreOffice can use (honestly the only thing I found that LibreOffice can’t do well is referencing - it’s dog-shit slow, but somehow Microsoft Office, despite doing very little that Office 97 didn’t do, is slow on a machine that’s orders of magnitude faster), or do I resort to piracy?

I decided to give it one more attempt at seeing if I had an account with my school email, since that’s where they emailed the confirmation for the Office 365 thing, and lo and behold I have one. Log into Office 365 and there’s a button right there “Install to my device” (or something of that nature).

So I have to wonder:

  • Why is a separate, stand-alone piece of software incompatible with older versions of Microsoft Office?
  • Why, if there’s a valid license on my machine, can’t I access installers? Yet again, their anti-piracy measures almost drove me to piracy.
  • Why don’t support have a way of at least verifying that an account exists at a given email address?
  • Why can’t support look up a license that was given to an email address, without taking remote access to the user’s machine and having the user attempt to log in?
  • Why the fuck didn’t my password reset work five or six times before?

And finally, why can’t open source seem to win against such an absolute train-wreck that is most commercial software?

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle



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Horsham, VIC, Australia

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