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By | Kelly Fiveash 10th February 2010 15:49

Microsoft volume licensing site serves up customer details

Time to enlist Beetle Juice?

Microsoft’s woes over at its revamped but pretty flaky Volume Licensing Service Center website continued today, after the firm inadvertently let slip the wrong subscription information to at least one of its customers.

Many MS volume licence users have complained about Redmond’s lacklustre efforts to get its VLSC website fully operational for all its biz customers since Microsoft relaunched its portal in late December.

As we previously reported, Microsoft’s new site has been hamstrung by a variety of technical cockups that have left customers grumbling about the inadequacy of the new portal, as well as the ineptness they had been greeted with when making complaints to the software vendor.

Reg reader Simon told us about Microsoft’s latest boo boo.

“This morning I had to setup my access to our new volume subscription and on registering my email address it believes that I am someone called ******, ******** with an email address of *********************. I also have access to a large number of subscription information including company names and email addresses,” he said.

“Seems they [Microsoft] haven't got their gremlins out of the system yet.”

Simon also sent us screenshots of the details he was currently able to view via the site, but for obvious reasons we won't be republishing them here.

The Register contacted Microsoft to find out what had gone wrong and to ask if the firm was alarmed about an apparent gaping hole in its security procedures for the revamped VLSC site. At time of writing no one had got back to us with comment.

Late last week the company span out a webcast for its long-suffering partners and customers to help them better understand what tools were available on the VLSC portal.

“As you may know (especially if you are a Microsoft Volume License customer), the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) is an online tool helps customers and partners manage VL program agreements, get access to licensed products and associated product VL keys,” noted MS Windows core OS division chief of staff M3 Sweatt in a Satisfy Me blog post that failed to once mention the recent trouble over at the VLSC ranch.

“The February 3 Partner Webcast has more info from the VLSC team on the enhancements make it easier for you and your customers to manage Microsoft Volume Licensing agreements, download licensed products, and access volume license keys.”

Let's turn on the juice and see what shakes loose

In December Microsoft decided to altogether shut down its volume licensing website, while the company gave the portal a makeover.

At the time many complained about the more than week-long outage and rightly wondered why such a huge tech beast couldn’t work in tandem between old and new without bringing the system offline completely.

Redmond clearly disagreed and instead shuttered its eOpen licence and volume licensing service sites on 7 December. Microsoft apologised to customers affected by the scheduled outage, and the overhauled portal flickered back to business as (sort of) usual a few days before Christmas.

But the story didn’t end there - many of Microsoft’s customers and partners continued to gripe about the vendor's volume licensing site, because it was locking many users out of the system due to a registration error.

"In standard systems testing, we encountered an issue with the registration system. While the vast majority of partners and customers are able to access the system, there remain some issues that are causing difficulties for some and it has taken us longer than expected to correct these issues," the company told us in January.

Microsoft said back then that it was scurrying to fix that problem, but didn't offer a timescale on when the site might work for everyone.

"We understand the inconvenience that this causes and greatly value doing business with our partners and customers," it said.

And - as of today - Microsoft has so far greeted the latest VLSC snafu with silence.

“I had created access to the site for myself through our initial account that we had setup for our agreement,” Simon told El Reg.

“I had given myself full access to everything that I could under that account. I have emailed Microsoft but it is going to an American run email and is probably in a huge queue of emails. I certainly didn’t do anything unusual when setting up the account. My liveid has been around for years too.”

We pointed out to Microsoft that it was reasonable for customers to expect the software multinational to have ironed out all the creases in its overhauled system by now.

After all, while one might expect teething problems when a company revamps its service, Microsoft's growing list of VLSC problems don't look set to be fixed anytime soon. Come on Redmond, what's gone wrong? ®

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