MSDN and accessability

Being a MCT pretty much involves staying up to date. Depending on how much stuff you otherwise have to do at work, this can easily turn into a big pile of TODO which because of dependencies and hiarchy just snow-balls itself into a huge mess.

Given Microsoft's release of Windows Vista with .NET 3.0 and all that involves, the upcoming release of .NET 3.0 with actual 3.0 languages (.NET 3.5), a flourishing set of Visual Studio and SQL Server add-ons, AJAX components and other handy libraries, you can pretty much say my snowball has been heading towards avalanche-dimensions.

So after seeing David Hayden rave about Entrerprise library, Enterprise library and pretty much nothing except Enterprise library for months now, I decided it might be worth checking out.

Lucky for me, he has done a few quick screencasts on the subject, and I decided to check them out. After doing so, I must admit it looked pretty neat, so I decided to follow his advice and check out the basic MSDN-webcast that these were supposed to build upon, just to have my basics covered.

And there is where my rant starts. MSDN, Microsoft Developer Network, evidently has some serious usability-issues. I can understand how different sections of MSDN has different access requirements. I can see how Microsoft prefers to require certain information to access certain content, so that they can trace usage. All this is fine, but come on!

Here is a list of what I needed to do to access one simple "webcast".

  • Update my MSDN/MCP-profile
  • Confirm that yes I want to view this webcast I was trying to watch
  • Register my attendance to this webcast (which was recorded a month ago)
  • Seeing as this webcast was evidently done live when it was done, I have to register a LiveMeeting screenname
  • After getting redirected to the LiveMeeting site, I have to supply my email and comapny, although this information doesn't seem to get used for anything
  • Then met with the fact that I need MSIE 6.0 SP1 or better. I prefer Firefox, so this is pretty much involved starting over at step 1 again.
  • Download a needed codec.

At the end of this process I had to think twice what I was actually trying to do. Ah right! I was trying to watch a webcast. Download the webcast (which is a wmv-file) and open it in any DirectShow-compliant player.

Is a simple login and a http-link too much to ask these days?

I'm trying to figure out how on earth anyone decided that this is a good way to present information and get people aware of the possibilities that you have with Microsoft technology.

This isn't really that much minor usability- or accessability-issue as it is a totally flawed process designed to be just that. Things like these just shows how Microsoft should start listening to their own design-guidelines.

Thanks to

Various reasons

Misc stuff