Over the the last several months, I've become more and more frustrated with Microsoft's eOpen licensing/download site. I finally reached the point today at which I *needed* to vent some frustrations. Luckily, I had recently been provided with the contact information for a local "Strategic Engagement Manager". I typed up my frustrations and emailed her, hoping that she'd be able to put me in contact with someone on the eOpen team. The email I sent is below. I'll post updates as I get them.

Hi [name redacted] - I realize you're not part of the eOpen team. As explained below, in writing to you, I'm hoping that you'll be able to refer me to someone in the eOpen team as attempts to get support on this through the official channels have always been unproductive.

(While the below stated issues are separate from what [name redacted] wrote you about yesterday, both issues are indicative of the problems that are endemic with the eOpen website)

We ([company name redacted]) started using the eOpen webpage for licensing and product downloads about a year ago. Ever since then, 90% of the time I visit the site, either the licensing section is down, the product downloads section is down, or both. In most cases, these downtime episodes last for 12 hours or more. Needless to say, this is *incredibly* frustrating. Due to the way the "online licensing" scheme works, we tend only to visit the site when we're in need of licensing information/product downloads. Because the service is down so often and for such extended periods of time, many of our internal projects have gotten delayed due to us being unable to get licensing information from you. As you could expect, these delays don't go over well with management. It also goes without saying that, when management hears of the reason for the delay, it gives them pause as to whether or not it's a good decision to go with a Microsoft solution in the future.

In the past when there has been downtime, I have made attempts to contact the MVLS tech support desk. From what I can tell, the only way to contact them is via email (or at least that's the only way published on the eOpen site). In each case, they took long enough to get back to me (usually 36 to 48 hours) that the outage had resolved itself, rendering useless whatever troubleshooting tips support had recommended.

I certainly understand the desire for Microsoft to use the web to disseminate licensing and product downloads. I'm also of the mindset that, in most cases, online license management is preferable to the customer as well - *if* and only if it's implemented in a stable and reliable fashion. That is not the case with the current eOpen website.

Try doing a google search for "Microsoft eOpen down". You'll see that there are many, many people around the world that are experiencing the exact same frustrations as we have been. Many of the complaints go back two and three years. This tells me that Microsoft has done nothing (or very little) during this time to improve the service. That's unacceptable.

I fully realize that [company name redacted] is a small customer of Microsoft and that in and of ourselves, we don’t have a whole lot of "pull" to get things changed within your organization. In this case, I see myself as speaking for the larger community of IT professionals that have to use eOpen on a frequent basis. I just desire to be put in contact with a clueful eOpen team member that can respond in a coherent fashion to some of these concerns and who can also provide information as to what Microsoft is doing to resolve the issues and when we can expect them to be resolved. I don't think that's too much to ask.

Thanks [name redacted] - please let me know if you'd like more information about this.

-Erik Anderson

Update: 2008-08-06, 12:26pm:
I received an out-of-office response from the MS contact. She's going to be out of the office until August 11th. Fortunately she gave an alternate contact in her autoreply. I've forwarded the original message to this alternate contact.

Update: 2008-08-06, 7:00pm:
The downloads section of the eOpen site has officially been down for 36 hours now. I still haven't heard anything back from the MS contacts I emailed. I decided also to send an email to my Dell sales rep, in the hopes that he'd be able to put me in touch with their MS licensing rep.

Update: 2008-08-07, 11:45am:
Just got off the phone with MS MVLS support. They're aware of the eOpen downloads problem. Supposedly it has been down due to "maintenance" since last Thursday. That's one week of downtime. Nice, huh. Anyway, due to the downtime, they were able to dispatch a physical media kit to me. I asked for it to be overnighted, which they weren't willing to do unless I provided our own UPS account number. I'm guessing that I would have been able to get them to foot the overnight shipping bill if I kept pressing them on it, but at this point, I was frustrated enough I just didn't want to deal with that. So...if you're in the same situation, call MVLS support at 866-230-0560 or email them at [email protected] They'll hook you up with a media kit.