Microsoft, My Wife is Crying
Microsoft hurt my wife. Below is the email I sent to CEO Steven Ballmer (Bill Gates stepped down a while ago) and Chief Marketing Officer Mich Mathews (since this could become a PR issue, and I know that marketing can wield some heavy influence on development.)
Steve and Mich,
My wife is crying (or at least she was 5 minutes ago). She’s up very late (it’s nearly 4:00 AM here now) because she needs to complete several drawings for a final project in her class, all due tomorrow. She has to leave for work in a few hours, but it’s that time of the year again for students, and duty calls.
The reason I’m emailing you about this, is because, basically, it’s your fault. Her computer (running Windows 7) rebooted while she was actively working on it. The reboot was triggered by Windows Update, which apparently selected that moment to decide to update. Then, without any warning whatsoever, the whole machine shut down to “complete the update process”, and she lost about 90 minutes of work. 90 minutes is a long time, and will make anyone angry; but, at 4:00 AM, when you are counting the seconds until you can finally get a couple hours of sleep, 90 minutes is a lifetime, and will make you borderline suicidal.
The root cause (this is where you come in) is really the culture of “We know better than the customer” that has been cultivated in your organization. This problem with Windows Update has been reported before, more times than anyone can count. I won’t bother proving it, because everyone in the tech department certainly already knows about it. Your design and development teams have chosen to ignore your customers for countless years on this issue, because they designed it this way on purpose. They think they are right, and they don’t care how badly it hurts your customers.
This time the hurt customer was my wife, and I’m not going to sit and take a silent beating on it anymore. I hope that this problem with your organization and product were simply an oversight at your level, and that you will quickly take action to resolve the issue. To that end, I look forward to your reply.
But, if you don’t reply, or are as uncooperative as the people currently spearheading this insanity, I’ll email again. If you block my email address, I’ll raise an army of similarly livid customers to email you. Getting this issue resolved has just become my number one priority, and I’m very motivated.
I assume that you are also motivated to ensure the happiness of your customers, especially the less technical ones, like my wife, who represent the bulk of your market. With that in mind, let me share two bits of information that may be of value in convincing your technical team to revise this behavior:
1. When the computer rebooted, my wife was hysterical, but she had no idea what was going on. I could tell (it was obviously shutting down to automatically install updates) but my wife didn’t have the slightest idea. She figured Windows had done something wrong, like perhaps it was crashing or something. In other words, she figured it was your fault, but didn’t know why, and couldn’t have provided any sort of useful information to a support rep.
2. She held out hope that perhaps the program she was working with would have saved her work or something. It didn’t. The first words out of her mouth when her last glimmer of hope disappeared were “I hate Microsoft”, said with all the venom you can imagine.
I’ve no idea if it will make it through the army of administrative assistants who likely run interference on these email addresses. If so, I’ll certainly post the reply. If not, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
For the record, I didn’t go straight to the CEO, and this isn’t my first time complaining about this problem. I started by contacting customer support, but a few minutes in it was obvious that they lacked the leverage to get anything resolved, and just wanted to pass me on to the next rung on the ladder. I know from previous experience on this issue that the folks in development are very attached to their view of how this should work, and they aren’t going to change just because the customers complain. This issue will never be resolved unless orders come down from superiors outside of the Windows Update development team.