Tips, tricks and all the info about MSDN

Using MSDN at Telecom

, posted: 3-Dec-2009 15:29

MSDN Subscription MSDN
Let's be honest.  For most of my daily programming requirements, "Google is my friend."  I rarely need to use paid support options.  In five years at Telecom, I've used the Concierge Support option once.  However, for getting access to all Microsoft software on demand, MSDN Subscription is DA BOMB. 
Here are the support options available under MSDN Subscription.  A detailed description of each one follows.
  • Online Concierge Chat Do you need guidance finding the answers you are looking for, or assistance with a non-technical question? Access the MSDN Online Concierge available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (except US National Holidays).
  • Subscriber Downloads Download software and get product keys.
  • Microsoft E-learning Take advantage of free Microsoft E-learning courses to hone your skills
  • MSDN Forums/Managed Newsgroups Get expert answers to your technical questions within two business days. (English only)
  • Support Incidents For your toughest technical questions, contact Microsoft Support.
  • MSDN Magazine Subscription Sign up each year to stay informed of Microsoft development technologies and trends. 
Concierge Support MSDN Online Concierge From the MSDN Subscription Site:
Welcome to Online Concierge, an online service created to help you explore the resources available to you as a MSDN Subscriber. Please feel free to ask the Microsoft Online Concierge any questions on locating specific technical resources. This service is staffed by Microsoft Online Concierges who will, via a Web-based chat service, help you locate technical resources by:
  • Using your MSDN subscription
  • Using the MSDN Web site and other Microsoft online resources
  • Using and searching the Microsoft Knowledge Base
For specific technical questions, use the MSDN Managed Newsgroups or technical support options.
This is the premiere support option.  It is a live MSN chat with a Microsoft Support Engineer.  You get a number of these calls per annum (see the calculation in the Support Incidents section below). 
As previously stated, I rarely use them.

Subscriber Downloads This is the procedure for downloading new software:
Currently, here is the list of available products to download:
  • Updated Products (31)
  • Applications (68)
  • Business Solutions (25)
  • Designer Tools (5)
  • Developer Tools (44)
  • MSDN Library (11)
  • Operating Systems (30)
  • Servers (72)
  • Tools and Resources (106)
I am like a kid in a sweet shop!
Microsoft E-learning Microsoft E-Learning Benefits for MSDN Subscribers From the MSDN Subscription site:
As an MSDN subscriber, you get access to Microsoft E-Learning course collections to stay up-to-date on Microsoft technologies, and can also reduce the strain on your training budget.
Microsoft E-Learning offers online training to help you master Microsoft technologies in a cost effective way, whether you want to learn a new technology, take your skills to the next level, or prepare for Microsoft Certification exams.
MSDN Subscription Level
Microsoft E-Learning benefits per calendar year* Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN Visual Studio Premium with MSDN All current MSDN Premium levels 2 course collections Visual Studio Professional with MSDN Visual Studio Professional with MSDN Professional Visual Studio Test Elements with MSDN MSDN Embedded MSDN Operating Systems 1 course collection
*Any usage prior to January 1st, 2010 will be counted toward the 2010 calendar year benefit.
A course collection is a set of courses and resources on a specific topic, typically containing 10 courses with 20 hours of instruction. Each course has an estimated retail value of up to $349 per year.
What to know before you start learning:
  • If you are eligible for 2 course collections per year, you must select both at the same time.
  • You will be able to browse the course options prior to making your selection.
  • Microsoft E-Learning is offered in English.
How to choose the right E-Learning collection? Created by technology experts, Learning Plans help you save time by organizing training resources that are most relevant to your goals into a self-guided path. Microsoft E-Learning collections or courses are included in Learning Plans. Find a Learning Plan that matches your goal and take advantage of the free E-Learning benefit.
E-Learning courses are all well and good, and I would use them, if I didn't also have unlimited legal access to all Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) courses.  These are the instructor-led courses which I get access to as a Microsoft Certified Trainer.  Plus, I'm not a big fan of on-line training.  There tends to be a time constraint.  I prefer purchasing a Self-Paced Training Kit and working my way solidly through the book, then testing myself with the Practice Tests that come with the Kit.
MSDN Forums Priority Subscriber Support in MSDN Forums From the MSDN Subscriptions site:
MSDN subscribers now benefit from priority support in MSDN Forums. We will be finishing our transition from supporting newsgroups in early 2010 (we will replace the remaining newsgroup links below with Forums links at that time) so that you can get answers to your technical questions in a variety of subject areas. A Microsoft engineer will respond within 2 business days to your posting if the community hasn't already gotten you the answer. MSDN Forums are very active community and a great place to both get help and help others.
To receive priority support in the MSDN Forums designated below, please make sure to sign in with the same Windows Live ID you use to access your other subscription benefits; no special configuration is needed.
Personally, Google finds the answer quicker than me trying to understand and drill down all the correct sub-categories to get to the area where my question might get answered in two hours.  Support Incidents Technical Support From the MSDN Subscription site:
As an MSDN Subscriber, you may be entitled to receive up to four technical support incidents depending on your subscription level. These support incidents can be used to resolve technical break-fix issues in a non-production environment and are the equivalent of paid Professional Support incidents. You can use a technical support incident to find a solution to a production issue if you can replicate that issue in a non-production environment. Paid MSDN Subscribers receive the following number of incidents based on the subscription level:
  • Premium, Ultimate: 4 incidents per subscription
  • Operating Systems, Embedded, Professional, Test Elements: 2 incidents per subscription
To use the professional incidents included with your subscription, you must:
  1. Call in to one of the numbers below and ask to create a support contract. Please have your MSDN Benefit Access Number (BAN) or Subscriber ID available.  The contract creation may take a few hours to process.
  2. Use your support incidents by phone or e-mail (using the same telephone numbers and email addresses below), or submit an incident online.  In most cases you will be called back by an engineer after submitting your problem information.
Not for Resale (NFR) subscriptions including those provided through the Microsoft Partner Network, Microsoft BizSpark, Microsoft Empower for ISVs, Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP), Microsoft Regional Directors, do not include the standard Technical Support Incidents. Microsoft Certified Partners, Microsoft Empower for ISVs, and Microsoft BizSpark members receive other technical support as a benefit of their program membership. Members of these programs should consult program information for the specific benefits.
See my discussion above in Concierge Support on why I don't tend to use Support Incidents. MSDN Magazine This would be free, if we lived in the US.  Since we don't, it costs US$25 for a years subscription (12 issues) for delivery to NZ.
Full of very technical good stuff, half of which frightens me, and the other half I don't even pretend to understand.  But, after about a year, then past articles start to make sense!

Conclusion Despite what I said about Support Options, I find MSDN Subscription invaluable for the Subscriber Downloads only.
I can't say I use MSDN every day, but it's good to know that it's there when I need it.
Telecom_spark I work for the Workgroup Solutions Team (WST), part of Applications Development, Maintenance and Support.  That "Development" word is important, because it means we're part of Programme Delivery, not Operations Support.  This means we get to play with lots of cool stuff develop with the latest tools.
  • Programme Delivery is a department of the Transformation, Technology and Shared Services (TT&SS) business unit.  This means, we get to deliver applications to all other parts of Telecom (Operational Separation schedules permitting!).
  • WST is Telecom's only internally-focussed .NET development team.  You may have heard of our externally-focussed .NET Development team: Gen-i!
  • WST is tasked with hunting down Microsoft Access databases within the organisation and bagging them: hunt, kill, destroy and replace with SQL Server back-end and ASP.NET front-end.
  • I love my job.
FaceShot3_Small About the Author James Hippolite remembers being 15 in the 5th form at Nelson College, when he sat up one night coding a biorhythms application on his newly acquired second-hand Apple IIe.  At 3am, he ran into his mother's bedroom to excitedly inform her he'd successfully finished.  Her measured response allowed him to continue to feel good about coding. James holds Microsoft certification as a Professional Developer (MCPD: Web Developer), IT Professional (MCITP: Database Developer) and Trainer (MCT). He lives in Wellington and is currently employed full time in a large corporate and loving the regular hours that non-consultants enjoy.

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