Why people hate Microsoft

I’ve been working for months on developing a web application. One of my design goals is for the application to run in virtually any web browser – Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera. So I frequently test the application using a variety of browsers.

About two months ago, I discovered a bug in Internet Explorer 8 beta 2. I spent hours documenting the problem and posted a simple example to the discussion forums. Within minutes, I got a response. The person from Microsoft didn’t bother to look at my example, but he told me that all web browsers have bugs.

Instead of thanking me for my hours of time that I spent isolating the problem, I got a rude and condescending answer. After I complained, another person eventually responded and showed me that this bug was already registered in Microsoft’s bug tracking system. (Though they haven’t acknowledged when or if it will be fixed).

Today, I found a second bug. It’s very obscure: when you go from one page to another, some specialized graphics don’t get displayed properly. They do display correctly if you refresh the second page or if you go to it immediately. This bug was so obscure that it took me nearly the whole day to isolate the precise problem and write a simple example.

Again, I posted my example to the Microsoft discussion forums. And I got another condescending response: go read the FAQs. This didn’t address my question, and it shows that no one has bothered to take the 2 minutes to test my example. Nevermind that I spent hours to find the bug.

In both cases, I did an extensive diagnosis and posted a succinct example to Microsoft – about a dozen lines of code (isolated from my 1000+ line subroutine). My thanks? An obnoxious attitude.

Doesn’t make me want to help them in the future.

And they wonder why people hate them.

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3 Comments on “Why people hate Microsoft”

  1. Steve Says:

    I don’t think Microsoft is exactly alone in this kind of attitude towards customers. Having been on the inside of the sausage making factory myself (so to speak), I can’t begin to tell you how often customers are overlooked or ignored, either intentionally or otherwise.

    I can’t say there’s one root cause — it really varies. Sometimes it’s because the problem you post looks too much like a RTFM one, and nobody likes those. Sometimes it’s because the people responsible for managing the bug lists and responding to customers have just grown tired of dealing with criticism about their product.

    Overall, though, it’s a systemic problem that’s not entirely unique to Microsoft…

  2. Greg Says:

    I know firsthand that customer support is hard. But I don’t accept the excuse that it’s OK to have lousy service because other companies have lousy service.

    When someone sends a question that says “when I try steps 1-2-3, I get this bug”, then it behooves the company to say something besides: “all software has bugs” or “this is covered in the FAQs” (when it isn’t).

  3. Alan Oursland Says:

    Do you have link to your forum posts?

    That is a horrible attitude to take towards customers. I know that there is training within Microsoft on how to appropriately treat customers. I also know that there are a lot of young people here who haven’t developed a customer centric attitude.

    http://connect.microsoft.com is the place where we gather bug reports for beta products. There may also be ways to submit bugs for released products, but I don’t really know. I do know that those bug reports eventually make it to the developers and eventually get fixed. I would recommend applying to the “Internet Explorer Beta Feedback” program and giving your problem to them.

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