Today I was trying to renew the Microsoft Action Pack (MAP) subscription for my company. Now, the MAP really is a good deal: For €380 per year, any small company (less than 100 employees) that creates or integrates IT-solutions based on Microsoft technology gets access to almost all Microsoft software, with a small number of licenses for each product, that can be used for regular business use, including 3 full MSDN subscriptions. I had to do this renewal during my vacation, because Microsoft uses some pretty strong language for what happens if you let the subscription slip for only one day (you have to destroy all media, remove all licensed software, and even if you subscribe again later, you can never get the rights back to use older software versions).
The “interesting” part is, that just before you’re trying to use your credit card to pay, you get the message that you first have to complete an online seminar, with an accompanying assessment (test) for which you have to score 70%, before being allowed to proceed. So you have to go to 30 or so slides of an online seminar (which seems to be pretty outdated, with no mention of Windows 8 at all), trying to remember the differences between the various versions of Windows Sever 2008. This takes maybe 30 minutes, including the test. And after that, as it turns out, you have to take another online seminar and test, this time with specific questions about the Development & Design MAP (with questions like wat LINQ stands for). Not only is it a little bit absurd that to be allowed to pay money to Microsoft you have to complete some tests first, but also that it is assumed that the person who does the ordering and payment is able to follow these seminars and do the tests.
So, after an hour I passed all the tests (mostly answering “All of the above” to questions about what a specific piece of Micosoft software can do), and finally I was allowed to enter my credit-card details. Well, at least now I know that Windows Server 2008 Foundation can do nothing useful, and that the Microsoft licensing options are too complex for anyone to understand. Still love Visual Studio 2012 though (after removing the all-caps menus), so all’s good!