Listening to customer feedback

On November 24, 2010, in Aurora, by

I was chatting with someone over the DE announcement and he said that main thing that was handled wrong was the line about how Microsoft had listened to customer feedback.  He said it was a BS line. 

I said, actually yes they did talk to customers. 

Dell and HP.

In the grand scheme of the world, there’s customers and then there are customers.  And while I can say in this bully pulpit of a blog that I can help people with the current versions of SBS, many time when it comes to betas, I’m not, and you’re not, the customer they listen to all the time.  Yeah, I can point to some connect bug wins, but I can also state without a doubt that if I was in charge of the Universe, SBS 2011, SBS 2011 essentials and Windows Home server next wouldn’t look the way they look.    To start with I wouldn’t have called Essential Business Server that, when it wasnt’, and I wouldn’t call “Aurora” Small Business Server Essentials.  Mark my word the naming of Aurora is going to lead to people getting confused between it and SBSv7 (SBS 2011 standard).  Lousy naming.

Then I’d have then more in virtualized pools then they are now.  I’d have a hyperV base and parts would be in virtualized sections.  But obviously, I’m not THE customer they are listening to, nor does my plan meet with their sales goals as while I’d want a virtualized/modularized platform, I sure wouldn’t be willing to pay for the licensing of it as it stands now.  I’d want it cheap.  But I’m always reminded by Mark Minasi’s quote that Microsoft builds software for the Fortune 499 (everyone but Apple).  While they have strong solutions for SMB, the base code that they build from is not built with SMB in mind (just look at Exchange 2010 as an example).  The SBS team doesn’t have the fortunes (and budget) to build a custom solution of specifically designed products for SMB.

When you look at the connect bug asking for DE back (nearly 1,900 and counting at the time of this blog post), it’s pretty obvious that Microsoft didn’t ask the constituency of their current Home Server customers what they thought of this ahead of time.  Nor did they ask SBS MVPs or WHS MVPs about their decision.  By the time the announcement got to us it was a done deal decision:

“Here is is, this is what we’re going to do.” 

So what happened to DE?  My take, it started to try to fit into a three headed beast.   In Paul Thurrott’s post  you can see the reality.  We know the history of DE.  That data corruption bug in v1 was a reputation breaking event.  v2 had to be perfect.  No runs, no drips, no errors.  Read again the part where it’s quoted “we discovered some application compatibility and disk tool problems related to its ability to correct data errors on the fly“. 

Bottom line, Aurora happened to DE.  The future customers of Aurora killed DE.  Home Server customers unfortunately got broadsided in the process.  As one of the Home Server MVPs said “at the end of the day, this was a business-orientated decision”.

P.S.  got word from several WHS MVPs that they don’t hate me.  They know that neither I nor they (nor any MVP, honestly) had any input into this decision.  It was a business decision by Microsoft on this one.


One Response to Listening to customer feedback

  1. Dean says:

    The real problem here is that people seem to want to use things in an office setting as if it was their living room. Hey, lets set up a media server so we can listen to music and watch videos while we work ! Lets use this hard drive that we have lying around from 2002 and this one from 1999 and hook them together to store our important data on !Whoooo Hooooo !

    There has to be a dividing line between home use and business use. Right now I just don’t see any way around it.

    It seems to me that the term ‘small business’ is used a lot as a catch all excuse to not do things in the proper manner. Kind of like a get out of jail free card. Oh, we don’t have to do that because we are a small business or I’m not spending money on that because we are a small business. I would think that the small businesses that become the most successful are the ones that had the disipline to do things correctly from the start.