I’m working on a specification document for my new job. I need to draw a diagram showing how various servers communicate with each other. Unfortunately, Word keeps hanging after I get a few boxes done.
I kill Word, submit the error report, and Microsoft tells me to download some updates. Fine. Except now I need to validate my installation of Office. Fine. Validation is only possible if I’m running IE, and I use FF. Fine/Grrr. I copy the URL of the page I’m on, launch IE, and paste it in. Same error message. Grrr.
I click around a bit, find the right link to get back on the path, and try installing the validation control. Doesn’t work. Try again. Works, apparently. No, wait, it wants me to install it again. Third time. Oh, look, my installation of Office is valid! Thanks, but I already knew that.
Okay, now can I update Office? No, it says that the update manager thingy isn’t available for me. So I click around some more, find the Office Update section. No guidance is provided as to which update I might need. SP4 is more than 100MB. Does it include all of the previous updates? Do I need SP3 to be installed first? Do I have SP3 installed?
I close IE, head back to Firefox, and download OpenOffice.org.
Kate and I did the server shuffle a few weeks ago. Kate’s desktop computer became our mail/web server, and our web/mail server became a file server, and Kate got a new Mac Mini to use as her desktop computer.
We started setting up the file server yesterday — formatting the old computer and installing Windows XP on it. After going through the setup process, I tried to install updates to make sure my computer didn’t turn into a spam zombie. I was redirected to the Microsoft Genuine Software something-or-other, and then got this screen:
A few points about this:
- I am using a legally purchased and activated copy of Windows XP, within the terms of the EULA.
- With all the resources Microsoft has at its disposal, there is no excuse to present me with an “unknown error”. Whatever my failure case is, Microsoft should have tested for it and presented me with a more meaningful message. This is just laziness.
- What is my “local product support team”? My IT department? Sorry, but my house doesn’t have one. The place of purchase? This software was purchased more than 5 years ago from some long-forgotten small PC shop. Do they mean Microsoft support? Probably, but do they really expect me to start searching their website for the phone number? Ever hear of hyperlinking? And should I really be expected to wade through some phone queue just to make their software useable?
Microsoft needs to realize that I have a choice as to which operating system I install. Windows is already in the minority in our household (the score is Linux: 4, Windows: 2, MacOS: 1). They can’t continue to rely on their position as the “default” operating system, and creating a frustrating user experience right from the start has only eroded that position even further.
This is all about user experience. If Microsoft had provided clearer guidance, I would’t be so incensed. But instead they’ve put up a blank wall and expected me to go find my own ladder to get over it.