Contempt For The Customer

Microsoft is about to launch the next major version of Windows Live, the so-called Wave 4. I’ve already blogged about the fact that we’ve discovered at least one nasty surprise in amongst all the new features: Microsoft has removed the statistics feature from Windows Live Spaces. This means that we bloggers, who use Windows Live Spaces, no longer have any means of monitoring traffic on our blogs.

I’m mentioning this again, because I am rather taken aback by the responses from Microsoft representatives on the support forums for Windows Live Spaces to those of us who have asked why the statistics feature has been removed. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Microsoft is displaying contempt for the customer over this.

It’s been quite instructive to view the evolution of these responses as the Microsoft representatives replied to the rising tide of indignation from users. First came the totally clueless response:

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.

Then came:

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.

As I wrote before, 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. Now, the responses try to strike a conciliatory note:

Hello All,

Thank you for your commentary and interest in the continuation of the statistics feature.  We certainly understand the frustration that comes when a feature you have been utilizing suddenly goes away without warning and for that we apologize.  At this time we have no additional information to share regarding statistics.  If new developments arise we will update the solution article located here

Talk about locking the stable door after the horse has bolted… It’s too late, Microsoft, the damage has been done. It’s quite clear from this response that statistics aren’t going to be coming back any time soon. As one commenter noted:

The whole thing beggars belief.

CRITICAL FUNCTION.  Stats helps me to identify Comment Spam (since Live Spaces does not have a good Comments management facility).  It helps me to identify the efficacy different promotional vehicles to the sight.  It helps me to identify parties and communities with similar interests so I can engage with them.

NO WARNING.  No warning that a change was going to happen.  No clarification on the redirect page.  Everyone is completely up to the own devices to used advanced navigation of Window Live’s difficult ‘Solution Center’ to find Carolyn’s clarification.

NO PLAN.  It’s not like Live is having a ‘momentary disruption’.  It appears that they don’t even know what if anything they are  going to do about it.
How does Microsoft defend this action?

In addition, Microsoft has announced that web gadgets can no longer be added to our Spaces, and those that are currently included in our blogs will cease to work in the near future. Terrific, so my blog will start decaying very soon. In addition, it appears that comments on blog posts are now limited in length. Doubtless there will be other nasty surprises crawling out of the woodwork as well.

I think the time has come to seriously consider moving my blog to another platform, probably Blogger. I shall make my decision once Wave 4 is launched and I can see for myself how much damage Microsoft has done to Windows Live Spaces as a blogging platform. The signs at the moment are not good; so bad in fact that a number of people are openly speculating on the forums that Microsoft will drop Windows Live Spaces altogether.

If so, then it will be a great pity. For a while, Windows Live Spaces was a reasonable blogging platform. However, Microsoft, with its contempt for the customer and cack-handed change management skills seems intent on destroying it.

Update: Since posting this, even more limitations on Windows Live Spaces have started to surface, so I’ve decided to jump ship even before the much vaunted Wave 4 is launched. I’ve decided to move to WordPress as my blogging platform, rather than Blogger as I originally thought. WordPress has more flexibility and looks better, IMHO, so that’s my choice.

Update 2: Okay, I’ve changed my mind – I’ve moved to Blogger, rather than WordPress. The reason I’ve switched, is because I found that Blogger allows me to embed Photosynths in my posts, whereas WordPress, like Windows Live Spaces, insists on stripping out the embed code. I can also use the LibraryThing widget on Blogger; once again, WordPress and Windows Live Spaces forbid its use. So, while the look of Blogger is a bit more basic than the endless styles of WordPress, overall it gives me more choice in what I can post. So, Blogger, it is

Update 3: Cough, I’ve finally decided to switch back to WordPress…

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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