Microsoft Disappoints (again)

So a number of days after Microsoft released the much anticipated Visual Studio 2008 I’m still trying to download it from MSDN. Initially I wasn’t going to post about this but it has been the cause of so much frustration that I can contain it no longer. Normally downloading files from MSDN is a relatively straight forward process.  You logon, you find the file you want, the File Transfer Manager appears and after a while the file downloads.  As you would expect, if there is a network connection issue the file download will pause and the manager will continue to retry (the number of retry attempts can be configured etc).  If for whatever reason the manager can’t reconnect, the download will remain in the list until you decide to resume it (perhaps when your connection has been restored).

Unfortunately someone at Microsoft decided that now would be a great time to try out a third party download manager that quite frankly is one of the worst products I have ever seen.  Whoever is responsible should be hung-drawn and quartered for this decision – Visual Studio 2008 is a product that so many people have been waiting for, using this download manager is effectively an insult to every developer who has ever supported the Microsoft way of doing things. 

So, you might ask why I’m so negative about this download manager.  Well, the fact that I’m on my third download attempt and that the previous two attempts got to 90% of the 3+Gb download before completely failing might have something to do with it.  The other reasons are:

  • Requires the Pop-up blocker to be disabled

  • Prompts to download the file to the Documents folder, instead of Downloads by default

  • Because it is an ActiveX object it actually downloads to a temporary folder under Vista.  This gives you a weird prompt asking if you want to see the temporary folder (if you don’t click yes, you will probably never find the file it just downloaded for you)

  • It doesn’t seem capable of retrying if there is even a minor network connection failure

  • It doesn’t appear in the taskbar so the only way to view it is to minimise all other windows (of course clicking view desktop will hide it too)

  • If you leave it to download when you go to lunch and it runs into issues, the chances of being able to resume are almost 0 (this has happened twice now at 90% where I’ve had to restart)

  • There is no ability to close the manager and resume later. And there doesn’t seem to be any way to configure the download manager.

For a product that really only has a single user case (ie download a file) this is pathetic. Microsoft lift your game and prove that you too can deliver Customer Service.

Update: Looks like Microsoft have now added all the SKUs to the main MSDN Subscribers download area and that they have fixed any performance problems with the File Transfer Manager. 

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