After Hours

Microsoft gaffes aplenty

Microsoft has been in the news lately for problems in its products and services, and the anti-Microsoft crowd is getting whipped into a frenzy over their chance to pillory their adversary.

Microsoft has been in the news lately for problems in its products and services, and the anti-Microsoft crowd is getting whipped into a frenzy over their chance to pillory their adversary. Over the last two weeks of December, the Xbox Live service, Microsoft's online gaming service, experienced glitches as an "unprecedented" number of new subscribers signed up. These glitches have prompted a class action lawsuit as well as a preliminary offer by Microsoft to give all subscribers a free game from its Xbox Live Arcade.

Xbox Live Woes Prompt Class Action Suit Against Microsoft (Wired)

Microsoft Giving Xbox Live Users a Free Game (Slashdot)

This news comes on the heels of an Office Service Pack that Microsoft put out, which disabled the ability to save and open up older file formats. Microsoft originally reported that the change was a result of the insecure nature of these file formats, but it retracted that assertion and stated that it was the code in Office that opens those older formats that was insecure. Microsoft has since apologized and put out tools that make opening up Office for older formats available, but plenty of damage has already been done.

Microsoft Office Drops Support For Older File Formats (Wired)

Microsoft Apologizes for Disabling File Formats in Office Update (Wired)

I personally think it could be good for Microsoft in the long run to have some high-profile problems like this, as these problems will (hopefully) cause it to work harder to please its customers. In the meantime, it is good for competitors like OpenOffice, Google Docs, and others, as they will see their market share grow from the dissatisfaction with the problematic updates. In addition, these problems only add weight to my opinion that Microsoft updates should only be applied after extensive testing. Were you affected by any of the latest Microsoft gaffes?

23 comments
akayani
akayani

I admit to just clicking yes to any MS update. Has it caused me any problems. NO. But when I have had a problem with a MS product a Google search usually finds the solution quickly. No need to phone anyone (Apple). No need to search till the cows come home (Linux). It's the power of the crowd that wins every time. Ethically I love Linux. But it's a drama I can live without. I think it works fine if all the apps you want are packaged by the dudes that distribute the OS. But for all its faults MS make a fine OS that doesn't tax my brain when loading applications.

Tig2
Tig2

Vista was the point that Microsoft lost me. WGA in Service Pack 3 for XP is where they are losing family members. I will simply not install SP3 on Mom's computer. She would simply be confused in the event that Microsoft decided that she was pirating. I hear many people who are actively seeking Microsoft alternatives. While not surprising, I do seem to spend a bit of time reminding people that they need to explore all of the available options and make choices based on how they want to use the computer. For some, that may mean a move to Open Source, for others, moving to a Mac, still others will find that Microsoft continues to be their best choice. What is important is that people are making a CHOICE, not being forced into the wrong alternative.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

The only one that gained any advantage was micro$oft. I think you are not alone in being ultimately turned off by Vista. Our IT folk flatly refuse to install it, and we are a MAJOR global player. That translates to BILLIONS M$ will not see from us. After the Windows ME fiasco, too many major players are taking M$BS with more than a few grains of salt. I don't know what my next computer will run, but it won't be running Vista. I may even get a Mac myself.

fatman65535
fatman65535

WGA: "Windows Genuine Advantage" (Microsoft) WGA: "Writers Guild of America" (self evident) WGA [b]really[/b] stands for: "We're Greedy A------".

eM DuBYaH
eM DuBYaH

i'm now wiping up coffee off of my keyboard & display. that's a hoot -- right on!!! LOL!

Tig2
Tig2

Follow my blog. Still early days yet but I'm discussing my experience with moving to a Mac. It may be a way that you can determine if that is a path you want to take.

seanferd
seanferd

Yeah, I couldn't possibly pay those prices. I think that they are good for the high-end market, and for people who want a machine that just works. Especially for those who want an appliance with no messin' around, patrticularly if they are the types who would by a new PC every other year anyway, and are disinclined to peek under the hood.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

It's fully buffered, which is overkill for all but server class hardware (which a Macpro is esentially a server in a desktop box) or extremely hardcore video editing (no, I don't mean pr0n, lol). If I want smoking video game performance, above average memory clock speeds and reliability, I don't need fully buffered memory for that.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

From what I've seen the desktop (Mac Pro) is simply expensive. You're getting a platform with dual Xeon capability and fully buffered memory, which is server grade hardware. At home, I simply don't need that so it is a big waste...assuming that's the best price out there. I'm definitely open to options if there are cheaper product sources. For the same price as a Mac Pro (with 1 processor, 4 gigs of memory and dual NVidia cards) I can build a pc with top notch components (same hard drives, processors, memory and video cards) and have enough money left over to purchase a 22" high end monitor. Even with a open budget for someone else, I find it hard to spend that much more money. It's pretty easy to put together a dual graphics card machine with a Core 2 Extreme (quad) for under $1500 these days...and that has power to spare. I find it hard to pay in the $2000 range for a similarly equipped Mac just to get the Mac experience. Like I said...free OSX to run on anything, and I'll be a customer. And I'd love to see if that hardware is all it's cracked up to be performance wise. Beauty is in the eye of the beerholder, and everyone I know with a Macbook running windows are just sold on the neat features and clean looks (personally I'm a big fan of the black macbook). I haven't seen where the Macbook is any better (or worse) than similarly equipped Sonys/ASUS/Thinkpads. Lol...then there are those people who could hang out in the Apple store all day drinking frappuccinos...but that's another story. I'm not putting down Macs, that's just why I personally wouldn't spend that kind of dough on one. My view remains the same...free up the software to run on anything. IMO Apple locking you into their hardware is no different the Microsoft and company locking people into their software. Microsft just does it on a larger scale, lol...seems to me like I'd be trading one tyrant for another in a trendy new suit.

seanferd
seanferd

Yeah, you are paying for over-engineering with a lot of markup. Apple sells only server-class RAM apparently, plus, you know, you're paying for the name. I think the entire point is that Apple doesn't want anything in their systems failing, let alone having the blame placed on them.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Apple makes there money at the Apple stores.. everything there has a premium markup for the honor of being serounded by that much white shelving and display tables. I nearly fell off my chair when I check the website for pricing and saw 1 gig of ram for 300$.. If you go through a third party retailer you should be able to avoid the premium pricing. They should be comparable to any other hardware of same quality outside of the Apple (tm) stores.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I'm in the same boat. I want the "Mac" experience, but I am unwilling to pay that much money for their hardware. I've played with other people's Mac's and I like it. The second they open up their software to run on any pc platform they'll have a new customer with cash in hand buying OS X...but for now they can keep their overpriced hardware. Microsoft locks you into their software and Mac locks you into their hardware. Hacintosh's are great for exprimenting, but they just don't "work" like a real Mac.

wilko
wilko

Already gone that route. Don't have a choice at work but at home I used Linux for 5 years or so and now have an iMac. Very hard to imagine anyone using a Mac for long and then wanting to return to Windows.

Tig2
Tig2

If there is an Apple store in your area, go play with one. Microcenter also carries the line and will let you play a bit. OS X is another way of saying GUI on BSD. It's Unix under the hood. That means that you can open the terminal and be at the command line. Same advice I offered Locrian- watch my blog. This week is mouse and keyboard, next week is desktop and disk mounting. While not deeply technical, it will give you a sense of the differences between Mac and PC. I had some prior experience with Macs in the past but have been in Windows world for a long time. I can tell you that the change has not been as difficult as I initially thought but the experience of having to RTFM over things that I can do automatically has been strange.

eM DuBYaH
eM DuBYaH

my next little project is going to be a Hacintosh Mac. i want to experience a Mac, and see what it's like. i've been a PC/windows/DOS guy from the get go.

Neil Higgins
Neil Higgins

I use Ubuntu at home,because it is my choice.At work XP,and Vista are the common desktops of the office.Open Source is the way forward for me,having carefully thought out my future path.Yet to ignore Microsoft,or hope they would simply fade away,after the problems with Vista,is simply not going to happen. I have had my learning curve from 3.1 to Business Edition.Now it is time for me to move on.It is of course,choice.Long may it be so.

armstrongb
armstrongb

Many businesses that I consult have older files in "old" formats stored for legal and operational reasons. Many still use Office 97 and see no functional reason to upgrade their Word processing and associated "Office" software. They are now expressing fear to me about my recommendations to upgrade, so the recent 2003 snafu has had the opposite effect, it may prevent people from upgrading since they will fear that they can not open the documents and spreadsheets from older versions. Microsoft created a de facto standard with their file formats that were accepted widely and used globally. The flip side of this coin is that this vendor, and any other vendor who has such market dominance, has a responsibility to provide some ability to open the older formats. This is a new paradigm, unique to software. If you think about it, how are we as a society positioned to maintain archives of information for a variety of historical reasons if the formats used to store the data changes for whatever reason? The downside to the Microsoft model is that this company feels no such responsibility. And it is hard to blame them since we hold no other company to that standard. Yet, how do we keep important data that we need to preserve available for future generations?

Tig2
Tig2

Use Open Office to open docs from older versions of Word. It will also often open files that Word thinks are corrupt. You can save an Open Office doc in Word.doc format as well. Same goes for Excel and Power Point. www.openoffice.org

Andy Moon
Andy Moon

I was only personally affected by the Xbox Live issue as I do not apply updates for (generally) a couple of weeks after release so that I can get a feel for how the updates affect other people. We did not do the SP3 upgrade before we left for our two week holiday vacation, so that one thankfully passed us by. The Xbox Live issue was bothersome, but not critical as I was still able to get on and play Halo, though after Christmas (all the new Xboxes and games) the service was definitely bad. Has Microsoft negatively impacted you recently?

lmassey
lmassey

I decided that I would, against my gut instincts, upgrade to IE 7.0. I almost never use IE (I prefer Firefox), but a few sites I visit require it. I can't even describe the depth of my frustration with this product. It seems it exists only to make sure I don't visit ANY websites (well, maybe except for microsoft.com!). I guess this would be great for preventing kids from looking at porn or something, but as far as actually using it for anything productive, it is worthless at best and produces lots of unnecessary work at worst. HATE IT!! Makes me ponder Macs for the first time EVER. Have recently been playing with Google's documents and find them awfully easy to use, so I'm also fantasizing about using these rather than MS Office. Of course, this will never happen in my work environment - too much change for the folks here - but I believe I will switch my personal stuff to Google docs one day soon and avoid MS in this way. Here's hoping that all the websites that matter will configure so that Firefox will function fully. Maybe if everyone drops IE someone at MS will get a clue!!

eM DuBYaH
eM DuBYaH

It totally blows me away, why do they constantly do this? Do they think they're winning customers over by pulling stunts like the WGA in the SP? Shutting down the ability to save in older file formats? That would really screw me up. I'm pursuing my degree online, and the file format is Office 2k3. I have 2k7 on my laptop. If I can't save in 2k3 format, I can't turn my homework in.

Deano14
Deano14

The patch wouldn't let Office 2003 open the office 97 format (or before). Microsoft have released a conversion utility to convert office 97 documents if you need to convert "old" documents. You can still save and open Office 03 documents in Office 07.

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