20061230, 52

Bob Sutor referenced Heartwood Guitar Instruction for the chords collection. These are tight. Just spent over an hour rippling through what is available and am very pleased to have spent the time. A great use of the Internet. The site design and logo are about as good as it gets.

Two months ago i bought a copy of AOE III [after visiting my nephews out-of-state(they got me hooked by letting me play on a v e r y nice gaming rig on their LAN)]. I spent my $60US$61.28932 ($49.99 +tax+20 miles@U$0.39) + 1.1 hours, installed to the laptop, and away I went, racking up experience…6 weeks goes by and I try to connect to ES Online. Denied! This CD Key can only be used to create one account.

I spent 6 hours trying to troubleshoot, and the ES Forum directed me to MS Support. MS Support is evidently so inundated with more important issues that nearly a month went by before they addressed the issue. Pretty lousy service for a product that costs so much money! In the meantime, I returned the first game to EB Games, who (a little grudgingly) gave me a “new” game (it had been 60 days since purchase). The “new” game has the same problem–cannot create an ES Online account [Error (101)].

After first trying to increase the cost of the product by 16.7%, MS Support sends a solution that may make Age of Empires III work as advertised. The solution is to provide a new CD-Key. This includes a lengthy instructions set designed for “uninstalling” the product! Can you believe, that these instructions extend to registry edits? …and to creating a new user on Windows XP before re-installing the game? It is 12/2006 and this Microsoft Ensemble Studios game does not have a working un-installer!! It does not uninstall itself from the registry and from your computer?! –how very 1996.

Perhaps, if AOE III was made by a software manufacturer other than Microsoft, I could excuse the failure to provide a working uninstaller. If I was playing AOE III online right now, instead of futzing with solutions to software inadequacies from the dominant software manufacturer in the known universe, I would probably have never posted about this on-going issue.

If I had such a lousy time with a real person selling a real product…I could walk away.

The truth is, if I did not have nephews that enjoyed so much the prospect of playing me online from across the country–I would take Age of Empires III back to EB Games and never buy another Ensemble Studios product again. Buyer beware.

Update:  To uninstall the broken product and install a “new” new product, with the new CD Key, requires the manual deletion of the Age of Empires key from within the Windows registry after using the “uninstaller”…see, even Microsoft does not really uninstall its software when one uses the uninstaller. Any wonder a Windows computer needs re-imaging every now and again?