Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

Question for Brian Hall

with 3 comments

In his post "Microsoft in ‘Cloud’ Computing: The Empire Strikes Back?", Steve Clayton states that he is meeting with Brian Hall, General Manager for Windows Live Business group, later this week and does anyone have questions that we’d like him to pose? Well Steve, yes, I do.

I’d like you to ask Brian if the Windows Live teams plan to increase their engagement with the Windows Live community in the coming months. I have complained bitterly to anyone that will listen about the lack of community engagement. Some examples:

  • Virtually no-one is answering questions on the General Live Dev forum: http://forums.microsoft.com/MSDN/ShowForum.aspx?ForumID=536&SiteID=1. If they don’t plan to answer questions on it they shouldn’t make it available. An answer of "the forums are there for customers to get help from other customers as well as from Microsoft" doesn’t wash either because Microsoft folks are the ones that can provide the best answers, especially in these fledgling stages.
  • http://feedback.live.com is by far the worst service on offer from Windows Live. We write our feedback, hit the button, and it disappears off into the ether never to be seen again. The feedback is one-way, it is never even acknowledged, and there is no route for the Windows Live teams to solicit further input. This is symptomatic of the lack of customer engagement from the Windows Live teams. I questioned Chris Jones about this during the MVP summit in March and he said it would improve, but I haven’t seen any improvement as yet. I would also question why the Windows Live teams have invested in their own feedback mechanism when one already exists with Microsoft Connect.
  • http://helpcommunity.live.com is a good resource but is woefully underused. On the other hand I would question why yet ANOTHER community portal is coming out of Microsoft. The answer may be that this is a customer-facing portal whereas the MSDN forums is a developer-facing portal – and I think that would be an OK justification. Regardless of that, its pointless if no-one uses it.
  • There is virtually zero interaction on the Windows Live MVP newsgroup. Farhan Thawar answers occasionally and the Windows Live MVP lead, Eric Sassaman, is on there now and again. But that’s it. I compare this to the SQL Server MVP newsgroup that I am used to where the SQL Server team are on there in their droves helping out and, crucially, asking the MVPs for their opinions as well.

I do complain about this a lot and people that know me in the Windows Live community are probably sick of me moaning about it. But that’s not going to stop me from saying it.



Written by Jamiet

September 3, 2007 at 4:41 pm

Posted in Windows Live

3 Responses

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  1. We’re not sick of it at all, Jamie – keep up the pressure.  I think it boils down to the age-old "what is Windows Live?" question.  Who’s in charge?  Who is responsible for working with the community?  Lots of folks seem to be in charge of trying to build a next generation community system, but no one seems prepared to manage what we’ve got now.
    Either you get marketing types (and that’s not all bad, I would put Farhan in that category, and the guys in Toronto are doing good work), or just about everyone else who have been so scared off by the Sinofsky "don’t be transparent, be translucent" mantra that they’re afraid to answer a question in a newsgroup.
    In addition, it must be said that these are new technologies and new communities.  The SQL newsgroups are well established, and populated by professionals who make their living with SQL, and have real benefits to sharing information/thoughts/criticisms.  There’s no such thing as a Windows Live professional, and the community is much less focused.  Kind of hard to compare those apples and oranges.
    Anyway keep it up, you’re doing the community a great service


    September 3, 2007 at 7:03 pm

  2. thanks Jamie – I’ll print out and hand to Brian on Weds. Will let you know what results


    September 3, 2007 at 9:46 pm

  3. Excellent. Thanks Steve. 
    And Kip, fair point about the comparison with SQL Server not being apples to apples. Maybe I shouldn’t be too harsh about that particular point – but I would still expect to see SOMEBODY on the MVP ng.
    cheers guys.


    September 3, 2007 at 9:55 pm

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