Not the Best Microsoft Experience

Today I received an email from Microsoft regarding an Annual Maintenance Notice for the Microsoft Certification Program. I haven’t logged into the MCP for a long time, so I thought I would take a look to see what nice improvements I might see. It was nice that the email included my MCID, so that saved me a minute looking it up. I was required to also provide an access code. Those are only good for 12 months, so I knew that the one I had previously used had expired. I followed the link to get a new access code. Here’s where things started to go wrong…

I filled out the four pieces of information: MCID, First Name, Last Name, Email, and submitted the form. I received an error message that the information was not found, which suggested that I may be using a different email address than the one associated with my account. My first disappointment was the lack of formatting applied to this page. The error looked like it was just thrown in at the top of the page by some developer as a quick solution. I would have though Microsoft had a web framework for handling forms details consistently and professionally across their sites, but it they do, it wasn’t used here, and there was apparently no review of this behavior from a QA perspective.

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I corrected the email address. It was my gmail.com account rather than my hotmail.com account, and then hit submit. Exactly nothing happened. The page reloaded, with no change whatsoever. It was time to get into Microsoft’s head to solve this one. Now I know that sometimes Microsoft forgets that we’re in the 21st century and thinks that all users must be using Internet Explorer. I was using Chrome, so I switched browser and tried again. It worked.

This time I got to the next page. Again, I’m scratching my head and wondering what happened to the Microsoft QA:

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The page was presented with a big blank area at the top, presumably where the branding and main site navigation is supposed to be. Reading the error message, I see that there is some more confusion over the email I am using.  This time it’s because I’m not signed into Windows Live with the same email address on my MCP profile. The instructions to click the “Sign Out” in the upper right corner of the page were not very useful since there is nothing on the upper right corner of the page.

My strategy to work around this issue was to hit the back button and hit refresh to bring up the previous page that did include the Windows Live button on the top-right. But lo-and-behold, I’m not even signed in.

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Ok, enough of this tomfoolery. I’ll just sign in, using the expected id, and repeat the process. So, I hit the button, entered my credentials, and the next thing I’m told is…

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Well, ok. Admittedly, I haven’t use a Windows Live sign-in for some time, so I’ll bite. The next screen tells me that an email has been sent to my gmail.com address with a security code. That was 15 minutes ago. I’ve checked my spam folder, but there’s no email.

[Time passes] It just arrived. I understand that Microsoft is probably queuing email notification requests, but it sure took a long time. Fortunately, I kept the page open that asked for the security code. I’m sure some folks would have closed the window and be hosed at this point. Perhaps Microsoft should include a password reset link in the email rather than the current method.

Regardless, three more steps ensue – I have to change my password, confirm my alternate email address, and provide additional security info. Finally, I was signed in. And I was pleasantly surprised that throughout all the trauma, Microsoft kept track of where I was originally authenticating from, and returned my to the MCP temporary access code request page.

Hmm… it’s still telling me that I’m not signed in with the same email address as the one on my profile. Surely, I did use the same one this time. I’ll just open up the MCP home page in a different tab, and confirm:

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Apparently, I am now a person with no name, and no way of seeing what account I’m signed in with. I’ll try something else. Let’s just go with whatever Microsoft has decided I’m signed in with:

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Apparently, that worked. And I made it to the next step!

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24 hours! Well, fortunately, it was only two minutes before the next email arrived. And that email was hilarious. At the top are in-page links for a dozen different languages (doesn’t Microsoft know my preferred language from my profile information?) Below, is a huge email with the content repeated in each of the languages. Google wanted to translate it for me from Japanese. I did a word count on the email just for kicks – 3,859 words to communicate a temporary access code…

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Anyway, I clicked the link to go to the MCP website and enter my access code. The next step was to review and update an extremely long and ugly form of profile information and required questions like “Which role best describes your primary use of software and technologies?” I was back in Chrome now, so perhaps the page looked better in IE. Next step was another big page asking me about technology preferences with about a hundred checkboxes—that’s a slight exaggeration, but it was enough that I just hit next without bothering to read through them.

But then came the magic moment. I WAS IN. I did it! I gained access to the MCP member area again. I see now that it is a test of skill, experience, and patience, that must be passed to reach this point, and to demonstrate worthiness of the MCP designation. I couldn’t be prouder of myself 😉

1 thought on “Not the Best Microsoft Experience”

  1. I had exactly the same problems few months ago (November 2013), when trying to register after passing my first certification exam 70-480.
    It took me a long time to understand what was my MCID, because in the 4000 characters email with 12 languages, it was difficult to find the MCID. Besides, since I was using Chrome, I wasn't able to register and at the end I rage quitted my attempts. Yesterday I passed my second certification, and I will write to the support to ask how can I make official both certifications. The Microsoft website is done so badly, that is not even funny. (And I am taking exams about web development!!).
    Best regards,
    Roberto Prevato

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