This is a horror story. One that makes me cringe to think about it. I have wasted so much time, have been made so angry over this, that I feel a need to vent a little.
First, some background.
Microsoft's Terminal Services Licensing is difficult to understand fully (one need just read the Usenet newsgroups dedicated to Terminal Services to see), however, there is one rather easy to understand aspect: Windows 2000 Server can give temporary licenses to Windows 98 and XP Home clients. These temporary licenses expire after 90 days. To continue using the temporary license one can, in Microsoft's words, "transfer a Terminal Services (TS) client access license (CAL) internally from one client computer to another in the same company within Terminal Services Licensing."
Although this "license transfer" is allowable by EULA, one has to call Microsoft's Terminal Services Licensing Customer Service Center. You can complete this reissue process only by using the telephone for a charge of $245.00USD. *
But -- and this is the one easy to understand part -- one can "reset" the 90 day license just by deleting a Registry Key on the client computer. I can live with that. Every 90 days I just reset my access counter. Very simple. Get this: Delete a registry key. Very simple.
But, ah, no... We have remote users... So we now enter the...
Microsoft Madness Zone! With a side road called AOL Hell.
One fine day a remote user contacts me with the usual e-mail stating that she "Can't connect." Subsequent e-mails resulted in my learning that indeed it was that the TS license had expired. ("Oh, yes. I did get the warning. But I didn't understand it.")
"Just run REGEDIT and... Click the start button. Click run. Enter R E G ..."
"But this is so difficult!" she moaned. "I can't do this!" she groaned. "Fine," I say. "I'll send you a file to do it for you." ** So I e-mail her a file which, when she "double-clicks" it, will delete the registry key. Of course, the route is through AOL. Turns out, AOL does not know what to do with a file name that ends in ".reg" ***
"So, just save the file... I mean attachment, and double click it," I say, on the phone now for she could not understand the e-mail. "Okay. I think I saved it. Now what to I do?" And it got worse. She could not find and ".reg" file. (Slapping forehead... grumble about hide extensions...) "Oh. Let me try and explain about file extensions. You see, Microsoft... [snip] So look for a file with an icon of little blue-green squares..." Very confused now (both of us), I had her search for the base filename. Eventually she found something with a "MIM" extension she said. "MIM?" I asked? "Yes, M-I-M." **** Totally confused now (and frustrated). I decided to try something else.
I then created a HTML page with a link to the REG file and put them both on a website. I sent her the link to that page (not wanting AOL anywhere near it) I told her to open the address in Internet Explorer -- which she did. She clicks on the link to the file and she says something odd about just seeing "M Store". (Turns out that for .REG files, Internet Explorer does not offer to save but simply views them; "M store" was her referring to some of the file's content.)
Getting her to right-click to save -- and making sure she notes where the file was saved -- she finally got to double-click on the file. "Click yes and then finish," I say.
That she was really happy when she got the remote access to work did not satisfy me in any way -- I know that I will have to repeat this process in about 90 days.
It gets worse
Later, when this happened to another user, I thought that I would again e-mail the .REG file to the person -- he uses Microsoft Outlook. Well, this time I was sending with Microsoft Outlook, and it warned that sending a .REG file might now work. Well, I'll send it to myself first -- it does not work because Outlook knows of the security risk and has blocked the file.
Okay, Microsoft wants to protect users from running programs that complete strangers send them, fine. But what about friends? Is there some "I Know What I'm Doing" Outlook setting? Perhaps there is a registry setting for it?
Fine. I'll just rename the file to .TXT and provide instructions to rename the file back. I send it as a test to myself. When I try to save the file Outlook tells me that it "cannot save the URL to a file," that it "Can't find this file," and that I should "Make sure that the path and file name are correct." *****
A Google search of that error message points me to the Microsoft Knowledge Base KB810646 which states: This problem occurs when you install Microsoft Office 2000 Service Pack 3 (SP-3). ****** Well, I guess I never saves a file attachment since installing SP3 because this is the first I heard of it.
Since it is certain that the recipient will have SP3 installed I again will refer him to the webpage I created, providing detailed instructions about how to save the file.
Is this really the State of the Art in 21st Century Desktop Computing?
This is all a complete nightmare as I see it.
A complete and utter FAILURE on almost all levels of Microsoft software.
Madness... Complete and Utter Madness... Microsoft Madness
* Via some MS voodoo chant or something? Why can't an Administrator administrator his/her own computer? Is there some secret access code that must be given verbally and which can not be written down? I don't know. I'd love to see some brave soul anonymously post to the 'Net what goes on during this process.
** For those not experienced in Windows, one can automate registry hacking by using .REG files. Windows associates .REG files with its REGEDIT program.
*** Because in the Microsoft Madness Zone files are not really files but "things" such as programs or pictures or recordings. And these "things" verified solely by their "cover" -- the ending letters of their name, i.e., ends in ".exe" run it! Ends in ".gif" view it!
**** It turns out that AOL, when is encounters a file with an extension that it does not handle, will save the file in its MIME state, changing the extension to ".mim".
***** Microsoft's award winning error messages make so much sense! And what makes this "windows paradigm" so dumb, is that when an error "window" pops up, there is no way of getting further help -- no help button, no log files, no nothing -- one can not even use the mouse or keyboard to copy the text of the message!!!!!
****** Microsoft goes on to say: To resolve this problem immediately, contact Microsoft Product Support Services to obtain the fix. For a complete list of Microsoft Product Support Services phone numbers and information about support costs, visit the following Microsoft Web site:. What the fuck?!?!?