Back in the Office, playing with Betas

Hi ho, hi ho, I'm back in the office and snowed under with 265 emails (and that's after cleaning them out). Whew.

But some interesting stuff coming through my aggregators and email.

Lots of good feedback about Windows Vista. Chris Pirillo sent me and Jim Allchin the kind of feedback that product teams die for (when I was a beta tester I won a $1400 laser printer for reporting about this number of bugs and issues about Adobe Acrobat). Yes, Jason Clarke, I'm making sure this list gets seen by everyone.

A reader asked me whether I think it's smart business, given my visibility, to point out everything that's wrong with Microsoft. After all, that might give people the idea that Windows Vista is buggier than it actually is, was the thesis.

That's a risk I'm willing to take. Why? First, my belief is that my readers are smarter than I am and can figure out the truth. Second, I am sick of companies always taking the "only report good PR" route — that's no way to build trust and improve products together. Third, I know a few people in power read my blog and I want the best possible Windows Vista out there (translation: public discussion increases the chances that these issues will be fixed and not swept under the rug). Fourth, this is the time to fix problems, not worry about PR. Fifth, I assume you all know how to use Technorati to search for the dirt on Microsoft anyway. :-)

I'll report when things work well too. For instance, Chris Pirillo used to really bag on Outlook (his bashes of Outlook are legendary). But look at his post "Outlook 2007 Might Not Suck!"

Anyway, thanks for this kind of feedback. Anyone else? Link to your bug reports here and I'll make sure they get entered into the bug tracker.

Comments

  1. I think the only people saying Outlook 2007 won’t suck are those fortunate enough to have an Exchange Server. For those of us coporate exiles, there is still no way to synch my email between my desktop, my development notebook, and my Motion tablet. I know there’s some synch software, but until Outlook moves away from the PST file format, we’re stuck with very bad synchronization, at best.

    Give me non-Exchange synchronization!!!!!

  2. I think the only people saying Outlook 2007 won’t suck are those fortunate enough to have an Exchange Server. For those of us coporate exiles, there is still no way to synch my email between my desktop, my development notebook, and my Motion tablet. I know there’s some synch software, but until Outlook moves away from the PST file format, we’re stuck with very bad synchronization, at best.

    Give me non-Exchange synchronization!!!!!

  3. That is some excellent feedback.

    It is the little things that will add up to be a big deal. All of those little things don’t seem like much separately, but together, it can make things a lot harder users to enjoy Vista.

  4. That is some excellent feedback.

    It is the little things that will add up to be a big deal. All of those little things don’t seem like much separately, but together, it can make things a lot harder users to enjoy Vista.

  5. I’ll still bag on Outlook. When the heck are you guys going to make it so I can actually access TWO different Exchange servers in the same profile???? God forbid SOME of us have accounts on multiple Window networks and want to look at the information without having to log out of Outlook and change profiles.

  6. I’ll still bag on Outlook. When the heck are you guys going to make it so I can actually access TWO different Exchange servers in the same profile???? God forbid SOME of us have accounts on multiple Window networks and want to look at the information without having to log out of Outlook and change profiles.

  7. Niki: what happened to IMAP?

    For example, (gasp), AOL Mail.

    And if you HAVE TO, you can use Plaxo to sync Tasks, Calendar items, and Notes (well, when Plaxo supports Outlook 2007).

    Sure, Outlook 2007 (or is it 2007 Outlook?) works very nicely with Exchange. But it’s not tied to it.

  8. Niki: what happened to IMAP?

    For example, (gasp), AOL Mail.

    And if you HAVE TO, you can use Plaxo to sync Tasks, Calendar items, and Notes (well, when Plaxo supports Outlook 2007).

    Sure, Outlook 2007 (or is it 2007 Outlook?) works very nicely with Exchange. But it’s not tied to it.

  9. I thought Allchin was on his way out? Should Kevin Johnson be the one being held responsible for this feedback?

  10. I thought Allchin was on his way out? Should Kevin Johnson be the one being held responsible for this feedback?

  11. Do you read? He titles it ‘Outlook 2007 Might Not Suck’ and then proceeds to list reasons why it sucks.

    They’ve fixed a handful of bugs, but…not nearly enough to convince me that this is any better than O2k.

    But assuming Chris Pirillo has anything worthwhile to say over a 24/7 LCD bug-eyed ‘Rebootish Web Creature’ view of the world, is your first mistake. Get some real usability engineers or some corporate productivity coach types to bolster your case. Outlook 2007 just seems more of the same, yet without the main feature I wanted, real sync.

    PS – Gotta love the OFFICIAL Microsoft response to the latest security snafu outbreak, “ummm, just run Word in SAFE MODE” — press and analyst laughter could be heard from NYC to the Valley in a millisecond instant. Too funny.

  12. Do you read? He titles it ‘Outlook 2007 Might Not Suck’ and then proceeds to list reasons why it sucks.

    They’ve fixed a handful of bugs, but…not nearly enough to convince me that this is any better than O2k.

    But assuming Chris Pirillo has anything worthwhile to say over a 24/7 LCD bug-eyed ‘Rebootish Web Creature’ view of the world, is your first mistake. Get some real usability engineers or some corporate productivity coach types to bolster your case. Outlook 2007 just seems more of the same, yet without the main feature I wanted, real sync.

    PS – Gotta love the OFFICIAL Microsoft response to the latest security snafu outbreak, “ummm, just run Word in SAFE MODE” — press and analyst laughter could be heard from NYC to the Valley in a millisecond instant. Too funny.

  13. Chris P. raises many issues on fit and finish. It’s the small details that matter sometimes and demonstrates quality of a product. Unfortunately given the bomb run Vista is under, I have serious doubts that Microsoft will address a significant number of these issues in time for Vista 1.0.
    I really hope someone at Microsoft goes through Chris’ list and files bug reports on each issue raised. And hopefully they are not prioritized as “nice to have” and get swept under the rug just to get Vista out the door on time.

  14. Chris P. raises many issues on fit and finish. It’s the small details that matter sometimes and demonstrates quality of a product. Unfortunately given the bomb run Vista is under, I have serious doubts that Microsoft will address a significant number of these issues in time for Vista 1.0.
    I really hope someone at Microsoft goes through Chris’ list and files bug reports on each issue raised. And hopefully they are not prioritized as “nice to have” and get swept under the rug just to get Vista out the door on time.

  15. You are the Scobleizer. Anything you say is good PR.

    On this note, I take my hat off to the Microsoft bloggers! All the Gates & Ballmer clownery at various conferences has brought 1% of the good PR you guys do every day.

  16. You are the Scobleizer. Anything you say is good PR.

    On this note, I take my hat off to the Microsoft bloggers! All the Gates & Ballmer clownery at various conferences has brought 1% of the good PR you guys do every day.

  17. I personally couldn’t care less about most of the feedback he’s given on Vista. I, like most everyone I know and certainly everyone whose pc I assist with, will only see glass for the few minutes it takes me to turn it off. Like every version of windows prior, the first thing turned off is the absolutely useless eye candy that makes a 2Ghz pc respond like a 350Mhz one.

  18. I personally couldn’t care less about most of the feedback he’s given on Vista. I, like most everyone I know and certainly everyone whose pc I assist with, will only see glass for the few minutes it takes me to turn it off. Like every version of windows prior, the first thing turned off is the absolutely useless eye candy that makes a 2Ghz pc respond like a 350Mhz one.

  19. I’m disappointed that my relatively new Tablet PC won’t be able to take advantage of Windows Aero. (Although I have a DirectX 9, 64MB 32-bit integrated video chip – just no Pixel Shader 2.) Since I’ll be paying for Windows Vista and won’t be able to use a major feature, I still want a theme which is leaps and bounds above Windows XP’s theme. The non-Aero theme now just isn’t up to par. I’ve talked to friends and they too seem to be suffering the same issue, primarily on their mobile pc’s. Is this a concern that Microsoft is taking seriously and will address?

  20. I’m disappointed that my relatively new Tablet PC won’t be able to take advantage of Windows Aero. (Although I have a DirectX 9, 64MB 32-bit integrated video chip – just no Pixel Shader 2.) Since I’ll be paying for Windows Vista and won’t be able to use a major feature, I still want a theme which is leaps and bounds above Windows XP’s theme. The non-Aero theme now just isn’t up to par. I’ve talked to friends and they too seem to be suffering the same issue, primarily on their mobile pc’s. Is this a concern that Microsoft is taking seriously and will address?

  21. Question for you guys.. Is there a website where I can go to see what network cards actually work with the Vista beta? My integrated one doesn’t work and I don’t want to buy one that doesn’t work.

  22. Question for you guys.. Is there a website where I can go to see what network cards actually work with the Vista beta? My integrated one doesn’t work and I don’t want to buy one that doesn’t work.

  23. ONe thing that would be nice would be to allow for a preference to have the Ribbon collapsed by default. regardless of size, that thing eats up space that is better devoted to actual work, not UI. But collapsed, it does a nice job, especially with a properly configured QAT

  24. ONe thing that would be nice would be to allow for a preference to have the Ribbon collapsed by default. regardless of size, that thing eats up space that is better devoted to actual work, not UI. But collapsed, it does a nice job, especially with a properly configured QAT

  25. Thanks for responding to my question about good vs bad PR! You make some excellent points, and I respect your position. I suppose because I am not an industry insider, will not be reviewing any beta versions of Windows, it just struck me as odd that this type of discussion didn’t have its own forum. Its one thing to test a new movie before it is released by showing it to an audience. It is another to have a member of the movie’s production staff scream that the ending is weak to people not involved with the production or testing audience.
    Thanks again – hope things are going okay for your mom.
    -Dan

  26. Thanks for responding to my question about good vs bad PR! You make some excellent points, and I respect your position. I suppose because I am not an industry insider, will not be reviewing any beta versions of Windows, it just struck me as odd that this type of discussion didn’t have its own forum. Its one thing to test a new movie before it is released by showing it to an audience. It is another to have a member of the movie’s production staff scream that the ending is weak to people not involved with the production or testing audience.
    Thanks again – hope things are going okay for your mom.
    -Dan

  27. PR needs to seriously exam where its value is in the “conversation” exchange. The energy, honesty and value created here on this blog far outstrips anything a PR person can do.

    As a former owner of large technology PR firm, I can say that the PR industry is a major state of disarray. There are some agencies that get it, like Edelman, but most are stuck trying to figure out Ad Value of their article placement rather than listening and helping their clients engage in the conversation.

    Keep it rolling….

  28. PR needs to seriously exam where its value is in the “conversation” exchange. The energy, honesty and value created here on this blog far outstrips anything a PR person can do.

    As a former owner of large technology PR firm, I can say that the PR industry is a major state of disarray. There are some agencies that get it, like Edelman, but most are stuck trying to figure out Ad Value of their article placement rather than listening and helping their clients engage in the conversation.

    Keep it rolling….

  29. Chris is so right to bemoan the same old, did I mention old, icons. I used Win95 and NT4 back in the day and I shouldn’t see icons continue to be used today.

  30. Chris is so right to bemoan the same old, did I mention old, icons. I used Win95 and NT4 back in the day and I shouldn’t see icons continue to be used today.

  31. I am wondering when people will realize it is time for the software and hardware people to set up to the plate and get drivers and software compatible with Vista. ATI and nVidia are working hard to get thier drivers out for Vista-where are the other hardware folks????????? Lexmark told me they do not know if they will make drivers compatible with Vista for my printer-why is that Microsoft’s fault? If I was selling hardware for computers I would be damn sure to be testing them on the betas and not after OS is released.

  32. I am wondering when people will realize it is time for the software and hardware people to set up to the plate and get drivers and software compatible with Vista. ATI and nVidia are working hard to get thier drivers out for Vista-where are the other hardware folks????????? Lexmark told me they do not know if they will make drivers compatible with Vista for my printer-why is that Microsoft’s fault? If I was selling hardware for computers I would be damn sure to be testing them on the betas and not after OS is released.

  33. My primary issue with Vista (including beta 2) is that it becomes unbootable in an unreparable way with great regularity on my laptop. More details on my blog..

  34. My primary issue with Vista (including beta 2) is that it becomes unbootable in an unreparable way with great regularity on my laptop. More details on my blog..

  35. [...] What Robert has written about his recent experiences makes it difficult to hold onto that view. Even his posts about Microsoft seem more frank now. You’re the real deal, Robert. I hope you find the answers you’re looking for, or at least get more comfortable with the questions. Share and Enjoy:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  36. [...] I’ve only just posted about Scoble collecting bugs Last week when I described installing the newest Vista build I said there was a problem with the Smartcard reader and I’d filed a bug report. Well, as I sit here using the free internet connection in the Manchester Malmaison hotel preparing for my next presentation I’ve just received mail to say the issue is resolved – progress reports are handled a little differently if the reporter is inside Microsoft, but I use the same process to file the bug as any other beta tester. Good to see the process works properly. If you want to be able to say something got fixed in Vista because of you, now’s your chance. And I’m going to bug a couple of things I hadn’t bothered with before. Published Tuesday, June 06, 2006 9:33 AM by jamesone Filed Under: Windows Vista [...]

  37. [...] Time to start a Vista cool wall On “Top Gear” – the BBC’s motoring show. They have a cool wall where they classify cars as “sub-Zero”, “Cool”, “Uncool” or “Seriously uncool”. My car rates as uncool, but being bothered by Top Gear would put me in the seriously uncool category. I posted recently about looking at benefits rather than Total cost of ownership and picked a out some features that I thought were cool. Of course one should also look at the disbenefits – not so much bugs as things that aren’t well done either in the concept or the execution. Since giving me to the link to Geek News Central story about Windows media player and Podcasting support (or the lack thereof), Robert Scoble has suggested people post bug reports to his blog (brave man). Since I keep using the word “Cool” at the moment – rather uncool for a man of my advanced years, I thought I should list the cool and uncool, so here is my starter list for the vista cool wall. Additions to the this list can be posted here, but Bugs to Scoble please. Sub-zero the new look. Obvious:  but I need to jump up and down and scream “It’s not just eye candy”. Use Vista for a couple of days and then go back to XP to find that somehow Vista’s look translates into smoother working. I don’t know if ClearType has been tweaked or if the new fonts work better with it, but on my high-res laptop screen Vista is easier to read. OK “Glass” might be eye candy, but it’s still very cool.    Sub-zero. Search Everywhere, and using properties not just text searching. Search folders – which applications don’t need to understand. Sub-zero – “Reading pane” preview in the shell. Copy from messages, documents and spreadsheets, show video and PowerPoint presentations in situ. Uncool – Any application which doesn’t support the reading pane or search Adobe PDF being the obvious case. Cool. Network Printers dialog goes straight to checking AD if you specify network printer Cool DVD burning support. Actually the lack of this in XP was pretty uncool. Cool IE7+ Generally – actually it would rate as Subzero, but for two uncool features: lack drag and drop support to the address and search bars, and lack of “search for highlighted” easy to add before final release (I hope) it’s odd that I can search my web history in IE but not Windows search. Sub-zero RSS Support understanding it in IE, the common feed list for other applications – especially Outlook 2007, the background transfer service – although shouldn’t that be part of the sync center ? Uncool The sync center Good sync seems to be a very elusive goal. This isn’t finished yet, but it seems too complicated – especially the interaction with Media Player. I should be able to say:if you see a network, look for this path and sync these files. If you see the internet copy these files / fetch these RSS feeds. If you see my camera copy files to my PC (replacing the IMG part of the name and keeping the serial number)if you see my Media player (including Windows Mobile device or iPOD) copy this music to it. If you see my Windows Mobile device (or 3rd party phone) copy my contacts to it. It should be Cool that Mobile device support is in the base OS, but its not working out that way. Seriously uncool The new Windows media player is unaware of the feed list bringing in all those lovely Pod casts. Easy to fix. Uncool. XML paper specification. Yes, XML’s useful, yes an alternative to PDF is good. But can we greet another file format with anything else but a yawn? Sorry, XPS is in the good but dull camp. If we really are going to get in a fight with Adobe let’s put a “Print to PDF” driver in the operating system (and let’s have a PDF import in word) User Access control. Cool or Uncool ? Cool that you get protected from your self and various bits of Malware, or Good but dull (uncool) can security be cool ? or Uncool that you get asked to confirm what you’re doing quite so much – some of it needs streamlining. Proof that security can be Cool, fast user switching for domain members. I never fully understood why this wasn’t in XP. At home my wife an I share a PC and rely on fast user switching, all the stuff we leave open is just there. But to share a PC at work, users have to shut their programs down and log off. Uncool. Not any more. Cool. New bits in the command prompt Try pressing the TAB key in a command window – it works through files and folders. Command line Tasklist, TaskKill and Shutdown. Seriously Uncool you can’t drag and drop a file into the command prompt any more. Easy to fix before final release (I hope) Sub-zero the new photo gallery which has some simple image editing, a good slide show and use of search. I wish they would embed the tag and caption as EXIF data so it stays with the file and is there when someone looks at old images in 20 or 40 or 100 years. The principle of “don’t change the original file” is usually good, but this is an exception. I’ll add to this list – but comments are on. Feel free to add your own. Published Tuesday, June 06, 2006 10:02 PM by jamesone [...]

  38. [...] Encourage feedback. Scoble, who’s equally good at admitting what’s wrong with his company (of course, he’s no longer at Microsoft, but that’s beside the point), in that same post points out that feedback from guys like Chris Pirillo is like gold. Confident companies want to see the rough edges, because they should know they’re able to fix them. The more they fix, the better the product, and the more distance between their product and anyone else’s. [...]