The last few weeks, the marketing team in the UK were analysing our satisfaction survey results that Microsoft conducts every 6 months. There were many insights we gained from it including why people like us and why they hate us. Did you know, for instance, that people hate the way Microsoft licenses software? Does it surprise you that people who use legacy software one or two versions behind the latest think that Microsoft is not an innovative company? One that is not at all apparent to most people is the fact that those who engage with us AND take advantage of our free programs, events and resources tend to be significantly more satisfied than those who just go it at it alone.
Product satisfaction is a two way street and requires effort and resolve on the customer side just as much as it does on Microsoft’s side. People forget that Redmond develops and supports well over 100 different products and it can be a challenge to integrate and get exactly what you want if you aren't aware of the product capabilities of a given piece of software. However, this is the exact reason why people seem to be dissatisfied; they buy our products without understanding the full scope of the technology. How can an organization begin to break the vicious cycle of buying new software but only realizing a fraction of its true value? Hopefully some of the tips below will help.
Understanding the Basics of Modern Computing
I may be way off in my expectation that modern business IT leaders should have a basic understanding of computing systems. Email and the web is well over two decades old from conception. The modern web browser architecture has not changed dramatically since the mid 90’s from an end-user perspective. The basic capabilities of a business PBX phone system should be recognized even though most manufacturers seem to go out of their way to make them increasingly more complicated. Answer, forward, conference, and transfer; is all this really that foreign?
The answer is “no,” these are not alien concepts, but I would probably classify them as the “pre-basics” of modern business computing. Business is a function of business processes, workflows, and the people that orchestrate them. No two businesses are identical in their reliance on one or the other. Some may be more process-oriented while some value people. Regardless, the underlying technologies to achieve productivity gains are the same. Even if you are not technical, you should understand the function and role of some generic technologies especially if you manage a team of people or are responsible for public facing campaigns and programmatics.
Understanding How to Evaluate New Software
Microsoft has a very easy way to evaluate and try new software if you work in IT. The TechNet website is the gateway to access all IT related software and information. By downloading beta software from TechNet, and register with the site, Microsoft metaphorically spoon feeds you about the status of the software, updates to new builds, and how to successfully evaluate it. Every step of the release cycle, you don’t have to worry about scouring for links or search for common information. Microsoft’s communications clearly articulate most of the relevant points. Below is an example of the Windows 7 RC announcement.
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Windows 7 Release Candidate
Notice: Downloads will end August 20 Thanks for all your help building Windows 7. We are on our way to the last big milestone: Release to Manufacturing. Starting on October 22, you’ll see it on PCs and store shelves. As we gear up for that, it’s time to wind down the Release Candidate testing program. If you or a friend needs a download, you’ve got time. We’ll continue to offer the RC download until August 20, 2009. After that, you won’t be able to get the download, but if you have the bits, you can still install the RC and get a key if you need one. (To get a key, just go to the Downloads page and follow the instructions.) Tell us what you think. If you’re using the Windows 7 Release Candidate, we hope you like what you see. Let us know -- go to http://input.microsoft.com and tell us what you think. You’ll be able to give feedback on various aspects of the operating system. Got the RC and need help? Experts on the Windows 7 Forum can help answer your questions. The forum also gives you a way to share what you’ve learned with other people.
The Installation Instructions give you the info you need to get started.
To get more information about Windows 7, such as feature descriptions, screencasts, faqs, whitepapers, step by step walkthroughs and our new IT Pro at Home area, visit the Springboard Series on TechNet website.
Looking for technical help or information? Here are a few sources:
You can keep up to date on news about Windows 7 on the team blog and the Springboard Series blog.
To get more general information on Windows, make sure you’re subscribed to the Springboard Series Insider newsletter or follow us on Twitter.
Learn more about the people behind the design and engineering of Windows 7 at Talking About Windows.com.
Thanks again for your investment in Windows 7. The Windows 7 Team
Download the RC
Windows 7 RC FAQ
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Windows 7 Forums
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Springboard Series for Windows 7 on TechNet
Windows 7 on Microsoft Partner Program
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When you want to evaluate software while being informed of updates and progress, the best thing to do is go to the TechNet downloads area. By downloading it here, you become managed by Microsoft’s software evaluation program. You might be surprised how much easier it is to filter out all the complexities of technology when there is someone holding your hand.
I should mention that more technical IT professional who live, eat, and breathe Microsoft products typically purchase a TechNet Plus Subscription (£234 or $349). It pretty much pays for itself because it comes with two free support calls and 20% of all additional support calls. In addition to to that, you get unrestricted access to pretty much all IT-related software made by Microsoft.