Microsoft is gearing up for the next major release of the PC software that integrates with its web services: Windows Live Essentials. Wave 4 of the Windows Live Essentials software should be available to the masses in the next few weeks. Some folks have already been privy to the beta, and are extolling the new features.
As well as major changes heading down the pike for the software on the PC, we are now beginning to see changes on the features and design of the web sites that Windows Live Essentials uses. Not always to the better, it has to be said. OK, we expect some hiccups – so for example, when I tried to access some web pages today I got an error message saying it’s currently unavailable because of a technical hitch. But, Microsoft does have this history of opening its mouth only to change feet, and I fear things have not improved.
For example, in Windows Live Spaces, there was a “Statistics” feature that allowed the owner of a Space to see what activity there was. Quite useful, and I often checked it out to see which of my blog entries were generating traffic.
But as of today, that feature has disappeared without any warning from Microsoft. Lots of people are complaining about it on a Windows Live Spaces forum. But the prize for “open mouth, change feet” goes to Microsoft support person Carolyn. Here’s her answer to someone asking why the “Statistics” feature has suddenly vanished:
Thank you for the report regarding the statistics feature. At this time we have removed this feature while we explore another solution. We appreciate your patience and hope to have updates availble [sic] for you shortly.
Stunning. Let’s just savour the full richness of that shall we? – “At this time we have removed this feature while we explore another solution”. This is truly worthy of Monty Python. The difference is that the Python team knew they were creating humour. The people at Microsoft’s Windows Live Services simply don’t appear to have a clue.
Update: There’s now a “solution” message posted that says:
With the latest release to the end-to-end Windows Live suite, we have removed the statistics feature from Windows Live Spaces. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. As we continue to evolve and improve the Windows Live suite, we add to and deepen many features, but of course are also sometimes faced with tough tradeoffs and decide to discontinue features. We will continue to keep you informed of any changes and coming improvements in the product.
Of course the whole point is that Microsoft did not “continue to keep us informed of any changes” – they simply removed the statistics facility without any warning whatsoever. I suppose it’s the underlying contempt for the customer that bothers me the most, but really, I should not expect anything better from them.