Windows Vista has RTM'ed

… which, normally, would be a source of much excitement. So I pull down the Vista bits, fire up VMWare (not that I don’t trust it yet, it’s just that… well.. you know… it is a 1.0 release and all, and besides, I do all my work now in VMWare images, and…), and sort through the whole “Vista doesn’t like the VMWare CD emulation problem” (by mounting the ISO on the host using Daemon-Tools, so that to VMWare it looks like a real DVD). Voila. Installation proceeds.

And then, Vista prompts me for a license key. This should be the easiest step in the whole process: Being an MVP, we get license keys to everything Microsoft makes. So I cruise on up to the MSDN site, ask for a Vista Ultimate key, and…

“Error while requesting Product Keys. Please try again later or contact customer support. Please try again later. Thank you for your patience.”

I try again.

“Error while requesting Product Keys. Please try again later or contact customer support. Please try again later. Thank you for your patience.”

One more time–Microsoft software has been known to work the third time (or not at all).

“Error while requesting Product Keys. Please try again later or contact customer support. Please try again later. Thank you for your patience.”

Now, fortunately, Vista will allow you to install without the product key up front. But you’ve got to wonder what the folks in Microsoft’s MSDN support department were thinking when they didn’t check to make sure requesting product keys would work before posting Vista to the Subscriber Downloads section: “Well, you know, it’s not like the MVPs, the folks that we’ve rewarded for loyalty and external product support, it’s not like they would want to download Vista right away and start playing with it or anything… and besides, it’s not like they’d want the fullest-featured version of Vista, all they want to do is install the Home/Basic/StrippedDownToNothing version, right?”

Get it fixed, MSDN. And preferably before I have to reinstall Vista in a VMWare image again because I don’t get a product key registered in time.

Oh, and for the future? You might want to check these things before you put the silly thing online. And that error message… Oy! “Thank you for your patience”?!? That has GOT to be the most overused phrase in all of customer service. So much so that I’m considering a new crusade to eliminate it from the vocabulary of any and all customer service representatives and management. (If I had any patience, I doubt I would be spending it waiting for somebody to get their act together on this. Now, waiting for my son to make his next move in Catan, THAT’s a worthwhile exercise in patience…)

So sorry, Microsoft, but this earns you the highest mark of disrespect I can offer in the blog: “Duh…”

Update: So I went back in to MSDN Subscriber Downloads and got the Product Key without a hitch this time around, but it still doesn’t change (a) the inexcusable fact that MSDN couldn’t handle the load of its MSDN Subscribers downloading Vista, or (b) the fact that it couldn’t even handle the load of people downloading product keys. Possible solutions for future releases: how about handing out product keys before the release? Just about a week or two ahead of the actual release, post a notice telling subscribers that “RTM keys are available”, and that’d reduce at least a little bit of the load. I think subscribers can understand the difficulties of providing enough server bandwidth to download a 2.5 GB ISO image (!), but not having the product keys ready to go, that’s just really hard to understand….