MSDN, or evidence that Microsoft isn’t pure evil

George,

This is a VERY kind act, and I don’t think a simple "thank you" cuts it. As
you know, I’m going through the trauma of rebuilding my software suite from
scratch on a virgin laptop, and you just saved life as I call it! Truly,
thank you.

I’m going to acknowledge Microsoft’s generosity in my blog. I have to. I
don’t care even if Microsoft gets a tax credit for it, you have still come
through to keep me going a while longer.

Of course, certain details will be censored.

—–Original Message—–
From: George
Sent: Monday, August 21, 2006 8:51 PM
To: Scott Royall
Subject: RE: Will it ever end?

Scott, I was simply trying to clarify what your needs were; I certainly
didn’t mean to imply that you were asking for a ‘free lunch’; nor is
Microsoft expecting anything in return. I’ve been able to procure an
MSDN download account for you [1]. The account is VS Pro w/MSDN Premium
(the new Universal) and is good for two years. Let me know if you have
any problems accessing it.

First: Scott
Last: Royall
Email: royall@conchbbs.com

Thanks,
George

—–Original Message—–
From: Scott Royall [mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
Sent: Monday, August 21, 2006 6:40 PM
To: ‘Scott Royall’; George
Subject: RE: Will it ever end?

George,

I confess I’m curious to read your reaction to the email below. Nobody
realistic expects a free lunch. That is, I wonder what Microsoft would
expect in return. This sort of arrangement could be very complicated
with teams of lawyers on both sides working to assure compliance.
Hopefully, we’d avoid that, but I’m trying to communicate to you that
I’m well aware of Robert Heinlein’s axiom: "There’s no such thing as a
free lunch." I’m no leech, and I would expect Microsoft to somehow
benefit from helping me.

Scott

—–Original Message—–
From: Scott Royall [mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 17, 2006 2:23 PM
To: ‘George’
Subject: RE: Will it ever end?

A big part of me recoils at that idea. I don’t even like receiving
Social Security Disability because I know full well that I’m still able
to do what I earned my BS in, computer science. Unfortunately, I can’t
even convince potential employers to interview me. It’s as if my 14
years at Shell counted for nothing. It’s not my fault Shell decided to
move their whole IT operation to bloody Malaysia! <Sigh>

If I turn your question around and ask myself what I would do if a poor
disabled person asked me for a Xpress-It license gratis, the reality is
that I would probably reluctantly consent. Altruism is only part of my
reasoning though. Yes, there’s good karma in giving someone the ability
to say absolutely whatever they wish, but it’s also good for my
struggling business. The more Xpress-It is seen (and heard) by the
speech impaired, the greater the chance that they demand it.

Unfortunately, I can’t quite use that logic with Microsoft because I am
not really able to guarantee a return on their sponsorship investment.
Logically, it stands to reason that sales of Xpress-It would drive some
sales of Windows boxes. After all, a general purpose computer is far
cheaper than the dedicated devices the AAC field is still gravitating
to. Experience has shown, however, that AAC professionals are really
reluctant to change their habit. I cannot say with certainty when that
barrier will start to come down, but a version of Xpress-It based on the
UMPC is going to be that much harder to ignore. I’m trying to be both
honest and upfront about the situation. The truth has to include stating
that the future of Xpress-It is pretty much out of my hands at this
point, because I’m flat out of money.
Either Microsoft or someone else steps up to help continue the fight for
attention by underwriting their contribution to continued development,
or everything stops.

What do you think, George? Has Microsoft been infected by Bill Gates’
recent philanthropies? I still remember the "good old days" when Shell
sponsored my attendance at Tech-Eds. I only saw one other wheelchair
user there so I was pretty unique.

Scott

—–Original Message—–
From: George
Sent: Wednesday, August 16, 2006 10:03 PM
To: Scott Royall
Subject: RE: Will it ever end?

Specifically, you are unable to continue your MSDN subscription and
would be interested in having us sponsor one, correct?

Thanks,
George

—–Original Message—–
From: Scott Royall [mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 16, 2006 7:53 PM
To: George
Subject: RE: Will it ever end?

You didn’t miss anything. The Empower ISV program will only grant me a
few OS licenses. That’s helpful, but, as I noted below, it still leaves
me needing licenses for things costing over a grand. Ouch. I have no way
at this juncture to pay that.

—–Original Message—–
From: George
Sent: Wednesday, August 16, 2006 9:34 PM
To: Scott Royall
Subject: RE: Will it ever end?

Scott, just checking back (I may have missed a mail); did the ISV
program help?

Thanks,
George

—–Original Message—–
From: Scott Royall [mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 10, 2006 4:09 PM
To: George Bullock
Subject: RE: Will it ever end?

Well, Empower would be a start, giving me XP (and presumably Vista).
But, that still leaves Office, Visual Studio, and–believe it or
not–Streets and Maps. No, no Money. Intuit has me on that franchise.

—–Original Message—–
From: George
Sent: Thursday, August 10, 2006 3:16 PM
To: Scott Royall
Subject: RE: Will it ever end?

Scott, I really appreciate your situation here; I’m not directly in
MSDN; James Van Eaton is the closest contact there. If you go check out
the Empower program and let me know whether or not that will solve your
problem I would be glad to see what might be possible after that.

Thanks,
George

—–Original Message—–
From: Scott Royall [mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 09, 2006 8:13 PM
To: George
Subject: FW: Will it ever end?

George,

I doubt you’ve been reading my blog, but this entry brought you to mind.
The short version of the story is that Dell decided to replace my main
laptop, a XPS Gen2, with the latest equivalent. That all sounds great,
but the reality is a bit less glorious. You can also see how useful the
backup was.

I shudder to think what it would cost to replace all of the Microsoft
crap I use. That was another big reason why I kept the MSDN subscription
as long as I did. Since I only have developer machines, I was within the
EULA, and the subscription was a lifesaver.

No, I have not yet checked out the Empower program yet. I’ve been
frankly treading water lately.

Scott

—–Original Message—–
From: Scott Royall [mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 09, 2006 7:13 PM
To: ‘lester’
Subject: Will it ever end?

Lester,

As my voicemail indicated, I’m in a world of hurt. Not only does my Gen2
hard-drive not fit in the M1710 (damn SATA connectors), but the 1710
somehow managed to EAT the backup copy of my file set when I connected
that. I’ve used Microsoft Backup and I’ve never seen it do quite this
before! I’ve tried every recovery utility I can think of, and their
consensus seems to be that the backup device, a Maxtor OneTouch, has no
data to recover.
Obviously, the situation is potentially devastating to me, as I may lose
several thousand dollars worth of software. In many cases, I still have
the installation images, but my file with my product keys is MIA from
both places that had copies.

My only hope–and it’s a forlorn one–is if my departed Gen2 can somehow
be intercepted and returned to me as-is long enough for me to slap the
hard-drive in and recreate the damn backup set. I realize that even
making that suggestion is likely to put Dell’s "system" into a grand mal
seizure, but, damnit, I sensed that something really bad could happen. I
know you’re doing the best you can. This is the sort of thing that can
happen when policies collide with customer needs.

Scott

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