Upgraders beware: A tale of hidden costs and frustration

So I recently I upgraded to Windows 8 and while I’m sure that the software is a big improvement over XP, which is what I had on this particular machine, it became a source of much frustration for me. It all started when I ran Microsoft’s compatibility utility to see where I stood with my upgrade. It flagged Skype as having issues, and about ten other pieces of software as requiring an upgrade after installation. The computer that we were doing it on was for an admin and so we said ok we’ll go ahead and do the upgrade. I stepped through the basic steps to install the operating system and once it was done our admin went to go work on a piece of correspondence. Microsoft Office didn’t work. In fact, Microsoft Office couldn’t be found, so clearly there must be a mistake. So we took a look at it and couldn’t figure out how to get it work and decided to contact Microsoft. This was where the trouble really began.

When we got a hold of Microsoft they said that this has been known to happen and asked if we had the keys to our previous Microsoft Office install? Well as you can guess from the fact that it was an XP machine, it’s a pretty old installation. In fact, it was several years old and we’re a small business and we couldn’t find the licensing keys. We had moved offices since it had been installed and one of the things we lost was a book with a lot of the licensing keys and other things in it. So I ask the Microsoft contact, with the assumption that it should be fairly simple to get a key, to get the problem worked out, or to roll back to the original configuration, what to do. The admin spent about three hours on the phone, got hung up on twice, and couldn’t get anything accomplished.

So I got on the chat and found out that there was no way to get back to XP and that I’d have to buy a new copy of Microsoft Office. I had to do this despite the fact that we have downloaded lots of other things from the Microsoft store. We should be listed as a pretty good customer and have been a Microsoft partner in the past. I guess at the end of the day my frustration stems out of all the software problems we could possibly have, this one is clearly by design. It would appear to be to drive revenue because otherwise why wouldn’t you mention the probability of losing your Office access in the installation somewhere. Putting something like, “Make sure if you do this upgrade you have your product keys available, otherwise you’re going to have to buy new software.” It just seems that given the fact that they take a lot of time to warn you about many other software issues you might experience, it seems disingenuous to not warn you about software problems that they know you’re going to have; like if you have Microsoft office it’s not going to work when you start Windows 8 back up. Also if you don’t have your license keys or access to the physical media that you installed from, you’re not going o be able to use it.

Now I understand that they have an interest in maintaining a hold over there software but on some level, I feel like we’re probably on the lower end of likely pirates given that we’re a software company and buy plenty of other things from Microsoft. If we were pirating software we probably would have got a crack for all the accompanying software and taken care of the problem ourselves. The fact that they’re not willing to issue a new license key is ridiculous. Either warn us in advance if you know this problem is likely to happen or don’t make a big issue of it when you call in. Basically, we had three separate support people tell us that there’s nothing else that we can do besides buy the license. It’s already cost us more in resource time then it would have been to buy the license in the first place. It’s just bad business and is leaving an extremely poor taste in my mouth.

A few years back, we had decided to standardize on Windows despite the fact that most of us had been Mac users for a long time. This standardization of Windows was really for the access to some business software. In fact, to this day I write and use almost solely my Mac, which makes this situation even more frustrating because I’ve never experienced this sort of problem with Mac. It makes me wonder if Microsoft, other than having the type of market dominance that it’s had, would they abuse their customers this way if they were in a less dominant position. It makes me curious what other people think about this. Do you think that since I don’t have the license it means I don’t own it and was right to be made to rebuy it or you they feel that an accommodation should have been made for me? I’d be very curious to hear what people’s feedback is.

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