Microsoft Transparency

So I tweeted this late last night (3/2/2011)
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I have gotten many response asking me WTF I am talking about.  There was no way I could respond in 140 characters so I thought I would create a blog post.  Partly because it was time to post something else to my blog and also because I truly believe Microsoft has been doing a good job lately at being transparent and I wanted to state my case.

Let me start out by saying I am a Microsoft fan boy.  I have been for many many years.

Has Microsoft ever disappointed me? Yes.

I have been disappointed with how long it is taking to get the first update for Windows Phone.  I really was hoping Microsoft would be doing updates very quickly to show they are really going to kick ass.  I think the Windows Phone 7 OS is the best OS out there.  iOS is showing its age and Android just reminds me of Windows Mobile 6.5 with a pretty shell on top of it.  Android seems to have the upgrade and fragmentation issues that Windows Mobile had in the 6.5 and earlier days.  With Windows Phone Microsoft has finally said wait a minute enough is enough.  This is what you have to support for hardware and we are going to make sure no matter who makes the device that we have a consistent API and hardware.  This is great for software developers as you don’t have to worry what Bluetooth stack is installed on the device like you would have had to with Windows Mobile.

I don’t know of many other companies that have podcasts run by their employees that talk about their major hardware and software platforms. You may think podcast by Microsoft employees are going to be a hour 30 minute or longer commercial on why their products are the best. That isn’t how there podcasts go. They tell you what is going on the good and the bad.

The first podcast I want to talk about is Windows Phone Radio which is hosted by Brian Seitz (@brianseitz) and Matt Akers (@skipdeez) .  In this podcast they try to be very transparent and talk about issues customers have found.  This is very relevant to current events and issues Microsoft is having trying to release their first update for Windows Phone.  They have hit some snags with some Samsung devices. Having a Samsung device this is annoying because they stopped the update for Samsung devices and I want the update.  I know all this because I have read about it on Windows Phone Blog, they have many questions and answers about this issue in this blog post.

Matt Akers has another podcast he does with Jessica Zahn (@jetherealz) for Zune called the Zune Insider. Here they also do a very good job of being up front with Zune customers. If there were problems with the service even if it was something you might not have noticed they talk about it. They even ask for user feedback and input. They want to know what we like or don’t like about the products.  If you have questions about Zune you should make sure to send an email to askzune@microsoft.com.

The last podcast I want to talk about is Major Nelson Radio which is for their Xbox platform.  This podcast you have four great hosts Larry Hyrb (@majornelson), e (@thevowel), Stephen Toulouse (@stepto), and Laura Massey (@lauralollipop).  They discuss everything gaming and not just for the Xbox platform.  Don’t get them started on Civ V.

Microsoft also has Twitter accounts for support and if you have any questions you about Xbox, Zune, or Windows Phone I would recommend sending a tweet to @XboxSupport, @ZuneSupport or @WinPhoneSupport for the product you need help with.  This is out there for everyone to see.  With all this on Twitter you can see any problems other customers have contacted them about and see what if any resolution was found.  I have used both @XboxSupport and @WinPhoneSupport and have always had great service.

With all these lines of communication directly to customers from employees not PR, but real honest employees like project mangers and in some cases developers/testers.  With all this I am not sure why people don’t think Microsoft is trying to be transparent or communicate.  Yes, there are still some things they aren’t transparent about, but I really think they are trying harder than any other company.  Do you think Apple would release details about iOS 5 or show iPhone 5 9 months before it is released?

Now a few things I think Microsoft could do better with the Windows Phone 7 developer program.  I would love early developer access to OS updates like Apple does with iOS after have announced the new features of the OS.  I would also like to see multiple developer login under 1 master developer account.  Apple does this with their developer account and makes it easy for distributed developers to get work done.  This would be great for the company I work for.  I don’t want to have to give someone in our other office my Live ID and password just so they can developer unlock a Windows Phone to test the software.  I remember hearing about being able to do beta releases of your Windows Phone software you were going to be able to post it to the marketplace as like a hidden beta.  Where me as the developer would need the beta users Live ID and then I could send them a deep link into the marketplace and then they could install the software.  I don’t know this was ever implemented but I am really hoping it does as this would be a much better solution than what you have to do on an iPhone to run pre-release software.

Microsoft has recently announced just some very cool stuff coming this year for Windows Phone 7, and they also have announced a Kinect PC SDK,. I am very exited to see what else will be coming from Microsoft this year and what will Windows 8 bring. Can’t wait for that beta.

I know most people still won’t agree with me, but you can’t please everyone.  Just ask Microsoft.