Consumer Nightmare: Vista Express Upgrade
What the Companies Say About COAs
ModusLink admits to an early problem with authorizing COAs, but says the issue has since been remedied. According to Christine Pothier, the company's marketing communications manager, ModusLink had initially set up its system with a security measure that would lock a COA after it was entered. "Under certain circumstances, such as an interruption in [network] connectivity, the COA could get locked before [the customer] completed the upgrade process," Pothier says. "Early on when we realized that [the problem existed], changes were made to the application process to remedy that situation. We haven't seen that the ability to register COAs has been an issue moving forward," she says. ModusLink would not, however, specify exactly how long the company took to fix the connectivity problem.
As for HP, which entrusted ModusLink with managing the process, Siobhan Flanigan, an HP representative, says, "HP has received e-mails and phone calls from many customers concerning the ordering process for the Express Upgrade kit for Windows Vista. We are aware of these problems and are working on an aggressive schedule with the fulfillment vendor and the software product supplier to resolve these issues."
Dell, which decided to tackle the upgrade on its own, has also seen some problems with COA verifications. According to Russ Ray, senior product marketing manager for client software, "There have been several databases talking to each other in this process. In all of that data transfer, there's an opportunity for things to go wrong." Ray says that Dell eventually changed the database system so it could be updated manually, allowing customers to complete their upgrades. Like ModusLink, Dell would not specify the time frame for tackling the problem, saying only the fix was "immediate."
However, Ray adds, if Dell customers are still having trouble verifying their COAs, they should not be concerned about missing the March 31 upgrade registration deadline. "We'll take care of those," he says. "There are still some ongoing issues with customers--there's all kinds of things that are falling under customer-experience issues. The hard cutoff is the month of April."
Much of the problems likely are due to the large quantity of upgrade requests that all the companies involved were processing. ModusLink's Pothier says that when the process began, the company received an extremely high volume of calls, and "immediately after that additional resources were added to customer support."
Still Waiting for an Upgrade to Arrive
For many customers, not getting their certificate authorized isn't the only irritation: The wait for the upgrade to arrive has been maddening, some say. The processing companies, though, insist that that complaint is not valid. Pothier says her company is still shipping upgrade packages, and that "the specific time frame that has always been indicated was four to six weeks from the January 30 release date." Though that date has now clearly passed, ModusLink is still shipping upgrades and will do so until the end of June, she says.
Dell's Ray acknowledges a similar timeline. "We communicated pretty heavily that we would be shipping these through the end of April," he says. "To be fair, we wanted to stagger [the release] a bit so that the support element is staggered as well."
Microsoft has little to say on the matter. According to Microsoft representative Jessica Steinhebel, "Microsoft is aware that some customers have experienced issues when trying to register for their upgrades. The upgrade registration and fulfillment process is being handled by Microsoft's OEM partners, though, and [they can address] specific questions."
Amber Bouman of PC World contributed to this story.
Who to Contact If You Are Having Problems With Your Vista Upgrade
HP and Toshiba Owners
Because the Vista upgrade program has now ended, ModusLink will no longer process requests for new orders. The following customer-support contacts are only for those customers who are having trouble with existing orders.