Tour the world with Microsoft Helpdesk

I realise that complaining about Microsoft is in the same league as complaining about George W Bush or global warming: valid, but boring.

Still: I spent more than an hour on the phone with Microsoft today trying to find out what exactly the hell is wrong with my Windows 2003 Terminal Server licencing. I own (note OWN, PURCHASED, BOUGHT) 10 access licences for terminal server on my network. However, the Terminal Services Licencing Server refuses to see them as proper licences, and so they keep expiring and refusing to allow users to connect.

So I give these guys a call — “What do I do?”, I ask. They have this worldwide policy, it seems, of saying “I’ll be happy to help, but may I ask your name first please?”. “Jarred”, I say. “Thank you, Jarred”. I wrote a program in BASIC when I was 10 years old that could do that also.

I then get passed around like a piece of chocolate cake in a room full of bulemics from Ireland to Germany, from Germany to India, from India to South Africa. Each “help”desk person cheerfully telling me I was at the wrong place, and should please call somewhere else. Cheerfully, mind. With much cheer.

Eventually I wound up back at some SA Technical Support person who I’d spoken to earlier in the day. He informed that, yes, in fact, there is some well-known bug with Terminal Services. However I would have to pay to get help with it. Sorry, my product isn’t sold with support. A mere R999 per incident.

Ok…so Microsoft’s charges money to tell you how to get around one of their own bugs. I mean, that would be brilliant if it wasn’t so downright evil.

FYI, I still have not figured out this stuff. Installing and running Terminal Services is somewhere up there with installing a new kidney. What I have figured out is that each computer connecting to a terminal services machine needs to be issued with a Client Access Licence (CAL) by a Terminal Services Licence Server (which could, to keep things confusing, be the server you are trying to terminal service into). Get it? But because all of this is such a mess, you get a temporary CAL which then expires at some future date.

How to make the license permanent instead of temporary god alone knows. By reinstalling Terminal Services I seem to have bought another period of grace and perhaps I’ll just keep doing that because it took a lot less time then phoning Microsoft support.