The content of this blog is my personal opinion only. Although I am an employee - currently of Nvidia, in the past of other companies such as Iagination Technologies, MIPS, Intellectual Ventures, Intel, AMD, Motorola, and Gould - I reveal this only so that the reader may account for any possible bias I may have towards my employer's products. The statements I make here in no way represent my employer's position, nor am I authorized to speak on behalf of my employer. In fact, this posting may not even represent my personal opinion, since occasionally I play devil's advocate.

See http://docs.google.com/View?id=dcxddbtr_23cg5thdfj for photo credits.

Friday, October 08, 2010

MS License Lock Box - yeah, right

Last year I gave in and purchased a copy of Microsoft Office. "Gave in" because I mainly use Open Office. Gave in, because (a) there was a cheap deal on Office 2007 Home and Student - 80$ for license to install on three machines, (b) I had just realized that my Vista tablet had functional speech recognition, no need to buy expensive Dragon, and my hands were in spasm (much as I prefer open source, I am not aware of any free software that does good speech recognition, or handwriting for that matter), and (c) I have grown to depend on Microsoft OneNote. (This last really minor, just a nice to have.)

80$ to install on three machines. Sounds good, eh?

Also, at the same time I purchased the optional "License Lock Box", which supposedly gave me the right to re-download the software for 3 years.

I installed the software immediately on my tablet. Did not get around to installing it on my wife & daughter's compute(s) for a few months. Was annoyed when I tried to that the original download rights lasted 60 days. I thought the License Lock Box was supposed to give me more time than that, but could not figure it out.

Wrote it off as yet more money poured down the drain into Microsoft.

Today, decided to try to set my daughter up. Her mother and I are Luddites: my daughter can't tupe. But here new school requires assignments on computer. Typing lessons are icumin in, but in the meantime, speech recognition. Which works better on Vista, using Microsoft Office.

Since I had long given up hope of using my Office 2007 license, I started purchasing Office 2010. Filled out all the forms, pressed the button "after which your credit card will be charged" - and was taken to a page that said "No such page found". On Microsoft's store website, using Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Sigh. Called Microsoft Store help. It appears that my transaction did not go through. But while I was on the line, asked about my Office 2007 license, and the "Licensing Lock Box".

The very helpful guy on the phone explained that, at that time, software sold from Microsoft's website was sold through a reseller, Digital River. And that the License Lock Box was their product, not Microsoft's. Aha!

Found that I could log in - with one of the umpteen Microsoft LiveId accounts.

Curiously, with Chrome and Firefox I can see my purchase history. But I can't see the "Download Now" button that I am supposed to use the re-download.

But with Internet Explore, I get told they have no history of my purchase. Again, it is curious that such a Microsoft-related site works worse with Internet Explorer than with non-MS browsers. But then again, it doesn't work welll with either.

So, annoyingly, it looks as if I *MIGHT* be able to exercise my license rights to 3 installs of Offoce 2007. But because of website brokenness, not before Monday. And Sophie has homework to do this weekend.

God! This is one of the big advantages of Open Source: if you have a problem, you can just re-download at any time. On any computer. No licensing hoops to jump through using information that can only be finagled out of the software reseller''s broken website on weekdays.


I thought that buying this "License Lock Box" was a Microsoft approximation to always being able to download the latest software from the cloud. Maybe so - but it's a bad approximation. Apparently not even from Microsoft.

Although the helpful guy at the Microsoft store said that they allow infinite re-downloads.