Michael J. Swart

August 17, 2010

Microsoft Connect From Our Point of View

Filed under: SQLServerPedia Syndication,Technical Articles — Tags: , — Michael J. Swart @ 12:00 pm

I first heard about Microsoft Connect in early 2008. I was at a conference and a speaker from Microsoft touted the benefits of the site.┬áIt’s a site that allows users to submit feedback on Microsoft Products (which include SQL Server of course). We were told that every issue on the site was taken very seriously and that stale or unhandled issues get escalated and are treated like a big deal. I remember feeling excited at having this direct line to Microsoft’s product teams.

Today Buck Woody (of Microsoft) posted another article pushing connect.microsoft.com. He’s had other posts on this topic before and thinks it’s a great thing.

Connect as Seen By Microsoft

And it is a great thing especially for Microsoft. They get great feedback:

  • They get bug reports which help improve quality of the released product tremendously.
  • They get suggestions which go into new features of the product. It helps get a sense of what users are really hoping to see.

Connect as Seen By Users

And it’s a great for users because we know we have a say in the product.

Except when we don’t.

There are too many issues where the submitter doesn’t know what Microsoft’s plans are with the issue.

Maybe here’s a reason. They’re hasn’t been a change to the database engine or Management Studio since 2008. And it looks like we’re about a year away from the next one. So any suggested features or fixes submitted for that time are still pending.

And that’s fine, but it means that Microsoft’s only feedback to us is inside the issue itself. Often an issue will have little or no feedback (349116, 361832) and then our perception that we have a direct line to Microsoft disappears.

But those are two isolated cases right? Yes and No. In one of my very first blog posts two years ago How useful is connect.microsoft.com, I took an arbitrary sample of issues. Today, two years later, I look at the same sample*, and I see that 41% still have an “active” status. I’ll repeat what I said in that post:

“If MS had a better track record than that, connect.microsoft.com would be seen as a real place to be heard. That would encourage even more feedback.”

It’s Not a Perfect System

Buck Woody says:

No, it’s not a perfect system, but it’s more than I’ve seen at most software vendors I deal with.

I agree with that. It is a lot better than other software vendors. Oracle is definitely behind in this respect. As far as I can tell their only feedback is their regular support desk. But all that means is that Microsoft is the leader in the race in which no one else seems to be running. And Microsoft could do even better.

What I’d Like to See Done

I don’t want to downplay the good work that Microsoft has done. When we’re told that “Microsoft really does look at these issues” I tend to believe it. I am confident that the SQL Server product teams are putting these features and fixes into the product as we speak**.

But Microsoft should tell us about it. Update the stale/active issues. Mark it as “not reproducible” or “we’ll consider it” or even “won’t fix” you won’t hurt our feelings. In fact we’ll feel better because we’ll feel listened to.

* The sample I took was issues submitted on the 1st and 2nd of May in 2008.

** Some evidence of product fixes via Todd McDermid.

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