In a recent blog post I mentioned two instances of troubleshooter wizards in Windows 7 that failed to find a problem. In both cases, humans eventually fixed the problem on their own.
This raised the question, to me at least, of whether it is possible to help Microsoft and tell them about the problems that their troubleshooters missed?
Considering the large hulking bureaucratic entity that Microsoft appears to be, I expected to fail. But, I gave it a try anyway.
It's easy to find the Contact Us page at microsoft.com. Hovering the mouse over the feedback link, produces a link to Windows 7 Product Feedback.
The Windows 7 feedback page strikes me as the virtual equivalent of a concrete wall.
For one, it leads with this: "Unfortunately, we cannot provide a personal response to your comments". In keeping with this, there is no provision for your entering any contact information. Your name? Not interested. Your email address? Ditto.
Why not? With tens of billions of dollars in the bank, why can't Microsoft engage with their customers on their flagship product?
Certainly some ideas and observations will be useful even if many or most are not. Why not respond, in some way, to anyone that offers something useful? Could it be they deal with so many problems that the concept of a suggestion is off their radar screen? Heck, even Steve Jobs responds to emails from customers.
Could it be that they don't respond because they don't read the feedback? Perhaps it's part of the "not invented here" syndrome.
Adding insult to injury, the form requires you select an edition of Windows 7, as if feedback on the Home Premium version would not apply to the Professional version. So typically bureaucratic.
Despite all this, I entered a suggestion for the printer troubleshooter. It felt like putting a message in a bottle and setting it adrift in the ocean. I'll never know where, or if, the suggestion landed.
When you don't engage with your customers, it's to be expected that your software will be sub-optimal.
And, all this assumes the troubleshooters are even updated. Are they? I've never seen a troubleshooter update in the list of optional software from Windows Update. I follow tech news and can't say that I've ever read about an update to a troubleshooting wizard. Maybe as part of a service pack?
I also verified my previous claim about the Windows 7 network diagnostic wizard being, to be kind, challenged.
From a Windows 7 laptop using WiFi, I referenced an XP computer on my LAN with \\ipaddress to list the shared folders. When the WiFi network connection had both Client for Microsoft Networks and File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks, disabled, it didn't work. Pretty obvious, but not to the troubleshooter which couldn't find anything wrong.
Has anyone ever tried to offer suggestions to Microsoft? Did I miss a potential feedback channel?
They spent millions on Windows 7 ads to give the impression that they listen to their customers, but I suspect the reality is somewhat different.