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I Like Microsoft, But the Company Needs to Grow Up

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Microsoft has a myopic view of the world. If I personalized the company as a human being, I'd say s/he is self-centered. If it were a child, I'd assume it is an only child, unwilling to share his/her toys with others. In fact, I think Microsoft needs some parental discipline.

I am one of those dinosaurs still using Publisher software for certain purposes. I started using it when it first came out in 1998, and have watched it evolve into a decent small business tool for non-designers. Whenever I want to create something myself, it's easy and intuitive. When my company does design work for clients, well then our designers use appropriate Mac Web design software. But, since I love designing, it has worked well over the years for small projects.
My challenge now lies in Publisher-created Web sites. Only visitors using Internet Explorer can view them properly. Anyone using Firefox, Chrome or other browsers see a distorted view with links that aren't always functional. Really bad for business. So, I sent Microsoft a support e-mail inquiry. Here's what I got back:
From the information provided in your email I understand you have used Publisher to create Web site which works well with IE, but the visitors claims using other browser they see is distorted and the links don't work.
We are sorry for the inconvenience caused, but If the issue is with the other end and it works fine with you by using Internet Explorer, they you have to inform the other user to use internet explorer while browsing to you website as their web browser is not compatable wit hyour website.
It cleary mentions that the issue is with non Microsoft products, therefore that need to conct the third pary browswe support.

Aside from the litany of typos and sentence structure errors (bad for brand image), Microsoft is basically saying, "Too bad. Have your visitors use our software and they won't have any problems."
Forget the fact that hardly anyone uses Publisher anymore to create Web sites, you'd think they'd want to hold onto their Publisher fans. But, I guess not.
I like Microsoft because they are good corporate citizens, giving nonprofits and educational institutions a huge discount on software purchases. But when it comes to being cooperative and collaborative, it's time to grow up. I think it will help them keep market share, not lose it.

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A Canadian who relocated to the U.S., Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of SOLUTIONS Marketing & Consulting LLC, a boutique marketing and communications agency located in Scottsdale, Arizona. During her career, Elaine has worked for, and with, many organizations, associations, and businesses, across North America, on marketing strategy and communications tactics.

From her earlier agency career assignments freelance copywriting Procter & Gamble, Nestlé Carnation, and Kraft materials, to “inside” senior-level marketing positions, Elaine’s passion for marketing has evolved to helping clients reach new heights through strategic brand-building, integrated marketing communications, and customer orientation.

She has been a contributing writer for The Business Journal and her articles have appeared in many publications, including the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Marketing News, The Arizona Republic, Advancing Philanthropy, and several association publications. She has been interviewed by CNN, Connect Magazine, and The Capitol Times, and her content was included in Guerrilla Marketing for Nonprofits by Jay Conrad Levinson, Frank Adkins, and Chris Forbes. Nonprofit Consulting Essentials by Penelope Cagney. and Share of Mind, Share of Heart by Sybil F. Stershic.

Elaine is a Faculty Associate at the Arizona State University Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation and a professional member of the National Speakers Association – she does keynotes and presentations on business and nonprofit marketing, branding, customer orientation, and cause marketing at conferences and meetings.

Elaine’s career has also included stints as a cookbook author, teacher, singer, and television show host. A golf and tennis enthusiast, Elaine is enjoying life in the sunny Sonoran Desert while serving clients across North America.

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  • by Anonymous Sharepoint User Mon Feb 23, 2009 via blog

    If you're in a medium-large company, the other thing you have to keep IE around for is Sharepoint/Dynamics. Compatibility with anything other than IE? Not really.

  • by Neil Anuskiewicz Mon Feb 23, 2009 via blog

    Nevermind that many people use Firefox, Safari, etc., but their response to you is astounding both in its rudeness and arrogance. If Microsoft does not get its act together and soon, the Operating System (Windows) and the suite of tools (Office) are going to be displaced. My guess it will eventually be some version of Linux with a *very* friendly graphical user interface on top and some sort of office-like suites available through the cloud (e.g., like google docs). In corporate environments, IT departments will be able to do upgrades of every machine in the company and fixes from a central location without having to physically go to an individual desktop computer. If the hardware on an individuals desktop fails the IT department will just quickly swap out machines and with only minuts interruption in work you will be able to instantly access the same apps as before and your data exactly as before. The reason is that none of it will be dependent on the Operating System, the saved documents, or the hardware of an individual desktop. This will be a more sophisticated throw back to the dumb terminal days. Dumb terminals with friendly interfaces and much more horsepower. All of this will be more efficient and less headaches, less product failures, and more standardization of the industry. Microsoft will either be part of this or or not but they cannot stop it forever. Eventually, it is going to happen and they can either join in and even be a leader or they will have to get out of the way.

  • by Jeremy Epstein Mon Feb 23, 2009 via blog

    I used to work at MS. Found this interesting. Passed it over to some friends of mine there. Will be curious to see if it makes it to the right person and if he responds.

  • by Neil Anuskiewicz Mon Feb 23, 2009 via blog

    Jeremy, I would be also be fascinated to learn more about MS's plans when it comes to cloud computing and so on. They must know that the Windows/Office combo is not going to last forever and I assume they must be moving full steam ahead on planning for that day. It may be asking too much for someone from Microsoft to address this. If I thought they were on top of this, I would immediately invest and my confidence would increase. That goes for many others who are wondering about Microsoft. I have that conversation with people in the tech industry fairly often. These are not anti-Microsoft people but just people wondering what direction Microsoft is going? The answer seems to be they are going in many directions but what is the *primary* focus? Also, things like Elaine described flat-out can't happen. It is simply unacceptable.

  • by Elaine Fogel Tue Feb 24, 2009 via blog

    Thank you all for your comments! @Jeremy: I'm curious to know what you hear back. I eventually received another e-mail from MS and here it is: "My name is [name] and I am a manager from Microsoft Office & Outlook Technical Support Team. This is in connection to your case number [#] wherein the issue is with Publisher application. We understand that you wanted the Publisher to be compatible with all the browsers like Mozilla, Chrome etc. for your clients. I certainly understand this situation and at the same time we are trying to take this up to the next level and try performing a research for a better solution. We request you to bear with us until then as we need to check on all non microsoft applications as well. Trust you should understand the criticality of this issue. We really apologize for the inconvenience caused & assuring you of our best services at all times." @Neil: I'm assuming that the first response I received was from IT tech support and perhaps they are not fully trained in recognizing issues that go beyond IT resolutions. The manager who finally responded (above) did so because I escalated the case.

  • by Neil Anuskiewicz Tue Feb 24, 2009 via blog

    Yes, very true, Elaine. Your post just got me thinking about Microsoft. As a Pacific Northwest guy, I am very interested in where they are going.

  • by Elaine Fogel Wed Feb 25, 2009 via blog

    Thanks, Neil. As I said, I like Microsoft as a company. I think they do great things for the nonprofit and public sectors. I just think the protectionist attitude diminishes their brand reputation. But, that's just my opinion. And, I'm not a shareholder. :)

  • by Neil Anuskiewicz Fri Feb 27, 2009 via blog

    I agree, I really like what the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have done. Great work and I have a good friend who is a former employee and he is very cool and he personally donates to all kinds of causes. These are good people. The way Microsoft had conducted itself has been less than upstanding at times in the marketplace, which is a shame. Just as they were blind sided by the Internet, they *might* be blind sided again by some big changes. It is possible that they will end up leading the changes (e.g., cloud computing) this time rather than scrambling. They have lots of cash so I am sure their Research & Development people are working over time. As a Northwest guy, if anyone mentions Starbucks, Microsoft, Boeing, or Intel (big Intel presence here in Portland), you will catch my attention. Also, you will find I respond automatically to anything to do with climbing, hiking, bicycling, running, beer (Portland is Microbrew capital) and wine (the Willamette Valley is known for its Pinot). Poor Ted Mininni has been contending with me endlessly about coffee for a while now. Sorry Ted. It is amazing, I went to a wine shop for a tasting a couple Fridays ago and the proprietor (an English guy) was able to hold forth in great detail about the status of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, including details about the production delays. Only in the Northwest. :-) Well, the English wine shop proprieter can talk of many things. That is what I like about the English.

  • by Neil Anuskiewicz Fri Feb 27, 2009 via blog

    BTW, Elaine, you are 100% correct about not playing well with others. They will do more harm than good if they join in with International standards and don't try to create Microsoft only standards. It only makes people mad and they are no longer in a position where they can say "so what" to that. Times have changed.

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