21 March 2007

Mediocratic Microsoft

My experiences with Microsoft products have mostly been fairly good. Although the company (like many others) has a tendency to do updates more often than necessary, and to add more bells and whistles than is optimal.

However, I wonder whether Gatescorp is succumbing to the mediocratic virus.

I've been helping a colleague get used to her new PC, which came bundled with Windows Vista, the latest version of Microsoft Windows. Her previous PC had Windows XP. Two things (so far) have struck me as pretty damn unsatisfactory.

1) Her Hewlett Packard printer/scanner, which is a fairly recent model, wouldn't work with Vista. When I tried downloading a driver, I was told by the HP site "Driver not yet available. Should be available March 2007." (It was March 2007.) Now surely MS shouldn't release a new version of its operating system until it has ensured it's downwardly compatible with all existing products, especially those from major suppliers such as HP?

2) Several emails in her inbox cannot be deleted. Windows Mail reports an "unknown problem" and directs you to the MS support site. Where someone, who appears to be MS-authorised, advises in one of the threads (which you have to search through to find the relevant one) that the solution is to use the command prompt and instruct your PC to reorganise the mail files. And that it probably shouldn't be necessary to delete all your mail files. What??? You have got to be kidding me.

Do you try to do things perfectly, or do you aim for "99% error-free"? Looks like MS have started to pick the mediocratic option. Let's hope for all our sakes other major corporate players like British Airways don't follow suit.