What Microsoft customers want

Now that the Microsoft antitrust trial is over and Microsoft is no longer distracted from its full-time effort to eliminate the word competition from the English language, I notice that the company’s spokesmen have retreated from their daily usage of the word innovation and have returned to justifying every product, policy and technology by saying: “This is what customers are asking for.” I’ve often wondered what customers would say if they wrote letters to Microsoft requesting the kinds of things the vendor delivers, so I decided to try my hand at drafting one.

Dear Microsoft:

Thank you for allowing customers like me to define your products and strategies. I’d like to offer some more suggestions, but first I want to comment on your progress.

The omnipresent talking paper clip was exactly as I had described the idea in my previous letter. The shared-source program was also precisely what I had in mind. I want a brief glimpse to make sure the source code exists; I trust you with the actual details. Thanks also for the SQL Server Slammer worm. The Internet has been way too fast lately, so the worm provided a nice temporary respite from all that speed.

Most of all, I want to thank you for solving the problem we had with the decision-makers in our company who don’t see the value of constantly upgrading our hardware and software. I was pleased to see that you used my idea of threatening a software audit, since I know for a fact that we misplaced most of our licences. Issuing the threat during tax season was a brilliant addition on your part, since it forced a quick decision without time to think it through.

On the other hand, I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed that you didn’t take my advice about increasing the frequency of reboots. I noticed I was able to move the mouse pointer in the latest version of Windows without the system informing me that I would need to reboot for the change in pointer position to take effect. I still think customers would love this feature, so please consider it for the next version.

As for my latest ideas, let me begin by saying that I strongly suggest that you craft Windows Server 2003 so that it refuses to run existing server applications like SQL Server 2000 and Exchange 2000. I don’t want the option of running any 2000 software on my 2003 operating system because I find it aesthetically unpleasant when the years don’t match up. I really like the idea of the single sign-on feature in Passport, but I often forget my password, and I don’t always have access to a computer.

Passport would be much more convenient if you could make it easy for a friend to enter a simple URL that instructs your servers to send my Passport information to his e-mail address.

I appreciate all you’ve done to limit the abilities of others to view or share my Microsoft Word files. I admit I was a bit worried that your commitment to XML would undo all those years of increasing incompatibilities between file formats, but I was pleased to find out that your XML files simply point to inscrutable Microsoft objects.

Nevertheless, it’s time to take this exclusivity to the next logical step. You need to design a hardware standard that encrypts documents, e-mail and even Web content to put this information out of the reach of everyone except people who are using the most recent versions of Microsoft software.

Finally, since you’re always asking, “Where do you want to go today?” I was pondering that question and I came up with the brilliant idea: an Internet-enabled portable potty! Surely the whiz kids in Redmond could design something like that. Anyway, thanks again for consistently delivering precisely what we customers want.

Sincerely,

A Satisfied User of Microsoft Software

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