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Microsoft's volume licensing portal is down for the count (again)

Microsoft volume-license customers and partners are voicing concerns -- and more -- about the fact the company's Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) has been down for a few days with little explanation.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor on

Microsoft volume-license customers and partners are voicing concerns -- and more -- about the fact the company's Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) has been down for a few days with little explanation.

At 3 p.m. ET today I grabbed a screen shot of the portal page. The page said the VLSC is "currently unavailable because we are making essential site improvements," and it will be back up by 5 p.m. PT on August 16.

(click on image above to enlarge)

Update: The VLSC now seems to be up (5 p.m. ET on August 16.). Microsoft officials are so far not providing any details on what happened beyond the statement above.

One Microsoft customer said Microsoft has been pushing out the expected return-to-normal time throughout the day:

"Today when I came in, there was a message saying it would be up by 6:00am PDT, then it became 9:00am, 10:00am, 1:00pm, an now 5:00pm PDT.  I expect the number to be incremented again as soon as that rolls around.

"This is very frustrating.  I wonder if this is another disaster."

When I checked Twitter, I realized this customer wasn't the only one left wondering what was going on.

@budchawla: The VLSC has been offline for three days and the promised "site will be available by" time keeps changing - GET IT SORTED @microsoft #fail

@ddrewery: Seriously microsoft!?! All the resources you have and you can't even meet your own pathetic deadlines for VLSC sight "improvements" #CITRT

@WJTech: Why is Microsoft's VLSC down all day today??? I need my KEYS!!!

The VLSC is the place where Microsoft customers and designated partners obtain and manage their product licensing keys. Last December, angry customers began reporting aboutVLSC site access problems that took Microsoft months to resolve. Microsoft ended up making a number of changes and rolling them out in April 2010 in the form of a new VLSC platform.

Susan Bradley, a well-known Microsoft Most Valuable Professional and Small Business Server expert, tweeted and blogged about the latest VLSC downtime and advised irate customers and partners to send their feedback to Microsoft via a link to a VLSC survey.

If you have not given feedback to Microsoft regarding the VLSC web site in the last six months, please.. take the time, fill out this survey and give feedback.

Bradley blogged: "Yes it sucks that they didn't ask before they made all the changes, yes it sucks that they've been offline all weekend, but now's your chance to say what you need from the VLSC web site."

I've asked Microsoft for more of an explanation as to what's going on. No word back yet. Stay tuned.

A spokesperson reiterated the same statement as above, and sent the following note: “Microsoft is currently making scheduled system updates. We apologize for any inconvenience. The site will be back online as soon as possible.”

I've asked again for more details, as to whether this is another new platform update being applied or what. If Microsoft officials will provide further details, I'll add them here.

Update (August 17): "Some of the updates took longer than expected" is all Microsoft will say in explaining the unavailability of the site.

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