Microsoft VLSC N-2 Media Downloads


Microsoft’s VLSC (Volume Licensing Service Center) is the central portal for volume licensing customers to manage and download licence keys and media.

Microsoft’s Volume Licences all include “Downgrade Rights” which let you run previous version of the software, for instance:

Buy Windows 7, install XP or Buy Office 2010, install 2007

However, Microsoft have only ever provided the media for 1 previous version AKA N-1 so:

Windows 7 = Vista

Office 2010 = Office 2007

Exchange 2010 = Exchange 2003

If you needed to downgrade further than that, you were required to provide your own media…usually from a previous install.

That being said, Microsoft are now changing that!

From July 2010, VLSC users have been able to access:

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Server 2003 R2

and from September 2010, the following N-2 downloads will be made available:

  • Office 2003
  • SQL Server 2005
  • Exchange Server 2003

This will make it easier for organizations who still need to run these older versions.

(via Eric Ligman)

Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) 3.5


The change to VLSC (from eOpen & MVLS) in December 2009 didn’t go as smoothly as anyone hoped, with a couple of weeks of downtime, various issues and ongoing user confusion over the last 4 months. You can see the full run down of issues, as well as partner and customer comments here:

Read Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Centre (VLSC)

but this post is to cover the changes that are coming in April 2010 with VLSC 3.5.

Current VLSC

I’ve used the VLSC a number of times from the viewpoint of both a partner, and a customer and one of the biggest problems is the new layout. The location of menu options isn’t always particularly intuitive, leading to a lot of “random clicking” and menu surfing; clearly not what anyone wants. This has led to a lot of frustrated customers, angry that things are more difficult than they used to be, especially as most customers don’t enjoy licence management anyway!

Feedback

Microsoft ran a series of feedback sessions with customers and partners via Live Meeting, Phone interviews etc to see what problems people were experiencing and how they would change it.

I took part in one of the usability scenario Live Meetings, which involved me performing various tasks in VLSC while the Softies observed (Live Meeting Share Desktop feature FTW!). There were a few instances where, even though I’d done it before, I couldn’t remember where certain functions were and resorted to clicking through all the menus! I felt that the people in the meeting really were listening to what I said and that they really valued my feedback…the fact that a couple of the changes I suggested have now been implemented show this to be true 🙂

VLSC 3.5

VLSC 3.5 is being rolled out this month (April 2010) with a number of changes, facelifts and new features including:

Improved Navigation Bar:

The 2 main things customers need/want to do in VLSC are:

Download product media

Access licence keys

Under the old menu, it isn’t 100% clear where these are located but the new VLSC gives 2 new menu choices, just for these actions.

Improved Key Management:

There are a number of changes and improvements being made here with 2 of the biggest being:

Enabling customers to download all their VLK’s (Volume Licence Keys) to a local file, giving them easy offline access to all their keys. This will be a huge benefit to just about everyone 🙂

Providing the ability to see VLK’s relating to a specific licence ID. When companies have dozens of agreements, it can often be useful to see which keys relate specifically to which ID’s…and thus perhaps to which orders.

Manage on Behalf of:

This is a great change for Partners. Often we’ll get customers who don’t want to be involved with the day to day management of VLSC and so they ask us to “look after it” for them.

The new “Add Open Licence” feature gives non-administrative rights to the agreement, enabling partners to:

  • Download media
  • View VLK’s
  • Manage SA benefits

and more.

You can see the whole range of changes and more information over on Eric Ligman’s blog here:

http://blogs.msdn.com/mssmallbiz/archive/2010/03/29/announcing-microsoft-vlsc-3-5-with-add-open-license-coming-in-april.aspx

Although the initial launch of VLSC was something of an issue, Microsoft have done a great job of asking the right questions of the right people, listening to their feedback and implementing it in a timely manner. It’s great to seem them listening to customers and partners and taking action on what we say… 🙂

If you’ve had issues with the VLSC I’d love to hear what you think of these new changes…especially if you commented on my original VLSC post in December.

Will they make your life easier, are there any changes you’d still like to see?

More focus on Microsoft VLSC problems


The Microsoft VLSC website has been suffering issues for a month now (as this post chronicles) but it has been hard to get anyone to pay much attention to it. Now however, Bill Snyder over at Infoworld has written an article about the issues which will hopefully get us closer to getting a response from Microsoft. Check the article out here:

http://infoworld.com/t/cloud-computing/microsoft-snafu-calls-question-its-cloud-reliability-513

As you can see from the title, Bill makes some good points about Microsoft’s reliability as a Cloud Service provider. These are points that I’ve been thinking more and more recently and I do feel there’s something here that needs to be addressed by Microsoft.

Let me know what you think of the article…

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