Microsoft's Ridiculous CTP Upgrades

With frequent bloggers like myself sometimes coming up with topics can be challenging to say the least.  Then at other times topics are thrust upon you no matter how hard you try to fight it.  This is one of those times. I was one of the unfortunate ones who installed the CTP of the Visual Studio Team Edition for DBAs (VSTE for DBAs).  Now I'm getting ready to install the RTM version and I'm havin

With frequent bloggers like myself sometimes coming up with topics can be challenging to say the least.  Then at other times topics are thrust upon you no matter how hard you try to fight it.  This is one of those times.

I was one of the unfortunate ones who installed the CTP of the Visual Studio Team Edition for DBAs (VSTE for DBAs).  Now I'm getting ready to install the RTM version and I'm having trouble uninstalling the CTP.  I don't have the CD anymore, and the code isn't up on MSDN.  So, I'm stuck with trying to uninstall my CTP so I can install the RTM.  And did I mention that the RTM won't uninstall, nor will it install on top of the older version.  So, I did what any hard-working conscientious DBA would do... I called my guys at MS to see how to get it uninstalled. 

Now, mind you, I've got VS2005 up and running on my  Vista box and fully patched and working well.  And MS not really trying anything at all to get me uninstalled, their only 2 suggestions have been to uninstall VS entirely along with the .NET framework and WinFX.  Then use this tool they have that will completely wipe all traces of it off of my box, and then reinstall and put the new VSTE on there afterwards.  The 2nd solution, and you're going to love this one, is to completely rebuild my box from scratch.  Again, keep in mind that they've done nothing at all to try to uninstall VSTE by itself.

When Yukon was still Yukon, you could uninstall those CTPs by hand if you needed to.  It took a few minutes, but it was far less time than rebuilding your box.  And what's really important, you didn't have to hold on to every scrap of media you had in order to get rid of the previous version.  It was easier if you did, but it wasn't necessary, and the methods for doing it manually were easy to come by.  I think I even posted it in blog to make it even easier.

You would think that it's fair to have to uninstall VS completely since you had to uninstall Yukon completely.  However, VSTE for DBAs is just a plug-in to VS.  It requires VS Pro.  So, you should be able to keep the host application in tact and just deal with the plug-in.

What I'm left with here is a sense of foreboding for end users.  I'm lucky in that I'm a journalist and I get special attention that ordinary users don't get.  If you top that off with the fact that I'm doing this to try to kick off the official InfoWorld Review of the product and it becomes even more appalling.  If I can't get anything out of them, what chance does an ordinary user have?  It's typically a good idea to hold off on putting CTPs on your servers unless you have a dedicated test box.  It looks like now it's getting practically impossible to expect to be able to install a CTP on your desktop either.  If the answer to uninstalling a CTP from my box is to rebuild, then there's something seriously wrong with the CTP program.  It's just flatout lazy coding.  And I tell my devs all the time that laziness is no excuse for bad code. 

MS, here's a hint... whenever you provide someone with beta code, you need to also give them a way to get it off.  Perhaps the RTM should have some knowledge of uninstalling components.  It's just a thought.

I'm really not writing this out of spite.  I can see how it would be taken that way because the timing's right, but I'm not.  I'm honestly concerned for the end users who don't have the connections at MS that I have.  What is an ordinary user going to do?  It's happened to me a few times when a company has blown me or my company off until they found out I was in the press and then they tripped over themselves to fix the problem.  Why do I have to have the ability to publicly call you out before you'll own up to your responsibilities?  Most customers don't have that luxury, and I really feel for them.  They're just stuck.  And it's no joke either because not only does word get around, but so does IT staff.  People in our industry change jobs like every year or so, and it takes but one bad experience to turn someone against you.  And you may not care because they're at a young startup and won't make up hardly any of your customer base, but beware... that guy may go on to a Fortune 500 company next month and if the topic of your software comes up, he will tell everyone what he knows about you and how you deal with your customers.  Now you're out a huge client and you'll never know it.  I've stopped more software purchases than I can count based on my initial experiences with any given company.  And it's funny how long that sticks with you too.  People remember a really bad experience for a long time.  Putting a dumb support engineer on the phone can ruin a company's reputation.  I quite often judge a company's customer service by their pre-sales support on something really small.  If they're not very willing to help you spend your money, then they're not very willing to keep it.  It's like the cell phone companies who put together these really amazing deals for new customers, and exclude the loyal customers who've been with them for a long time.  It's ridiculous.  You're going to reward someone who could take off next month by giving them an excellent deal, and punish the ones who have proven you'll get their money.  Nice move.  Anyway, that's all I had to say.

So instead of spending my evening being productive with anything, I'll be wiping my box clean of VS in an attempt to get this review off the ground.

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