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  • Microsoft Closes Retail Stores

    Posted on June 26th, 2020 at 11:02 digitalmediaphile Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Microsoft has announced it is closing almost all of its retail Stores (and the few that won’t close won’t be selling products and will be turned into Microsoft Experience Centers).

    This is a devastating blow to existing Microsoft Surface users looking for decent support and it certainly won’t do much to help with sales of new Surface devices.

    One counterbalance to the poor online and phone support for Surface products was that if you were fortunate to live within traveling distance to a Microsoft Store, most consumers could get better results for hardware issues than using online support. And then there was the instant exchange, as opposed to sending in your broken device and waiting, sometimes up to two or more weeks for a replacement. And then getting a bad replacement. At the Stores, the replacement process was usually instant and customers could examine the replacement product (reject if needed), etc. For many with bulging batteries in Surface Book and SP4 devices, going to a MS Store was the only solution to avoid a $600 out of warranty charge (Microsoft cut off free replacements after 3 years from date of Purchase). The Store staff “got it”. The Apple Stores right next store to most of the MS Stores replaced batteries and devices all day long. And took care of swollen batteries in Macbook Pros.

    The closest store to me was one mile from the Massachusetts border. That Store had a robust small business sales and support business. When in the Store, I often saw pickups of multiple new Surface devices. And they handled software and hardware issues for these customers easily. There were actually smiles on the faces of those folks waiting for the techs to work on their devices. This speaks to the top level skills of these MS Store technicians.

    As Amy Babinchak stated in the Third Tier Facebook page “This is a sucky development. The Microsoft store was a valuable partner to my MSP. They hand delivered orders directly to clients, managed warranty and repair issues like pros I’ve never seen before. The existence of the store legitimatized the Surface line of products. This is a sad event “


  • C’mon, Microsoft. Cancel the Build conference sooner rather than later.

    Posted on March 3rd, 2020 at 10:34 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Microsoft has cancelled the MVP Summit, slated for the week-after-next in Seattle.

    Now we’re looking at the next big MS conference, Build, on May 19 in Seattle. Sorry, but there’s no way on our big blue planet that it’ll be safe to have a large conference in Seattle in May.

    Microsoft’s official Build page now says:

    In light of the global health concerns due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Microsoft is monitoring public health guidance in relation to in-person events. At this time, global health authorities have not issued guidance to avoid travel to this location. We are looking carefully at our event calendar as well as our presence at industry events in the coming months. We are not taking decisions lightly, but the health and well-being of our employees, partners, customers and other guests remain our ultimate priority.

    We will continue to monitor and make any necessary changes as the situation evolves.

    March 2, 2020

    Which sure sounds like a CYA to me.

    Why can’t Microsoft, of all organizations, just shift to online conferences? Why make people wait and wonder if they’re going to need (or cancel) plane reservations, hotels, meeting plans? And in the future, why have conferences at all? Sure they make Microsoft a lot of money – but it’s only a roundoff error in the corporate income statement.

    We’re better than this. Microsoft should’ve led the way years ago with online conferences.

  • Microsoft deleting – not moving – old Internet Explorer documentation

    Posted on November 9th, 2019 at 05:43 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    A disturbing report from @VulturEMaN:

    My RSS feeds for MS documentation updates is showing a lot of IE8/9 documentation updates, but when I click those links all result in a 404. Likely these pages are being deleted. This just started over the last 2 days.

    Feed that doesn’t show the deletions:

    And then they’re deleting the update from the RSS feed itself. The proof is in the RSS posts that my account is showing for that feed, since RSS readers typically keep a copy of anything ever in the feed, even if it was added by mistake or removed.

    I have no kind words for people that delete documentation.Why aren’t they moving it to a site like and then put a big banner at the top that it’s legacy? How many of these articles are relevant to later versions of IE, so we don’t repeat history?

    You can read a more detailed account – including a list of 74 links that have disappeared – on Reddit.

  • Surface Pro X review embargo just lapsed

    Posted on November 5th, 2019 at 03:15 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    If you look around, you’ll see a flood of reviews of the Surface Pro X, which apparently went off embargo around 10 pm Redmond time. That’s how the hardware review business works: Publications line up to get free first-run machines, promising to hold off on reviews until a specific date and time. Looks like the alarm just went off.

    Of course, Microsoft doesn’t send me review units. (You thought otherwise?) So I just read the reviews like anybody else. Of course, given the Surface support history and the fact that it’s an ARM-based machine with all the compatibility headaches that implies, I would never buy one. But still it’s cute seeing Microsoft’s response to the iPad.

    Part of a natural ARM progression: Windows RT was a joke. Surface RT died a horrible death. Windows 10 in S Mode was an embarrassment. Now Surface Pro X. The review practically writes itself — although Microsoft will assure you ten ways from Tuesday that the Surface Pro X is better and different because it’ll run Windows desktop apps.

    Yep. Pull the other finger.


    Brad Sams at Petri: Surface Pro X Review: A Classic Look For The New Mobile Worker

    Cherlynn Low, Engadget: Surface Pro X review: Gorgeous hardware marred by buggy software

    Sam Rutherford for Gizmodo: Microsoft’s Surface Pro X Goes Full Batman

    Dan Ackerman at CNet: Surface Pro X review: A Surface evolution, but the software hasn’t caught up yet

    Jacob Krol, CNN: Microsoft’s Surface Pro X is for many, but not everyone yet

    And on and on…

    Just in case you were wondering, yes, absolutely, Microsoft vets their reviewers carefully. For example


  • Goodbye Technet, MSDN – welcome to Microsoft Q&A

    Posted on October 31st, 2019 at 06:25 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    It’s too early to tell how this is going to turn out, but MS has committed to freezing Technet and the MSDN network, and replacing them with the latest, greatest Answers forum yet, Microsoft Q&A.

    MSDN and TechNet forums are outdated. To provide the set of capabilities that our customers need and want, we created a robust, scalable, and reliable new platform called Microsoft Q&A.

    It doesn’t replace the Microsoft Answers forum, which will continue its role as a neglected wasteland of officially neglected complaints. Sorry. Microsoft Q&A supports:

    Azure Active Directory
    Azure Active Directory Domain Services
    Azure Active Directory B2C
    Azure Information Protection
    Azure DevTest Labs
    Azure Lab Services
    Azure Virtual Machines
    Azure Web Apps
    Universal Windows Platform
    Partner Center API

    Which leads to such titillating questions as:

    What types of applications can I deploy with Service Fabric Mesh?

    Not likely to be one of your burning queries, eh? Microsoft explains:

    This integrated experience will allow us to better prioritize and answer questions, and give users clearer paths between documentation, learning content, and answers. Microsoft Q&A also offers a much better set of permissions that will equip our moderators with improved tools.

    Which all seems well and good for the technically plugged-in.

    MS is making a clean break with its old MSDN and Technet forums. If you’ve earned “reputation” points in the older forums, they’re disappearing, at least for now:

    In the next few months, when a user searches for something that doesn’t appear when they’re browsing in Microsoft Q&A, we’ll use machine learning to display read-only questions and answers from MSDN and TechNet forums… Currently you can’t carry over your MSDN and TechNet reputation. However, in the future we’ll give you the opportunity to link Microsoft Q&A and MSDN and TechNet forums. When this is an option, your current badges and points from MSDN and TechNet forums will be displayed as part of your Microsoft Q&A profile.

    I wish them luck!

  • A short note on Microsoft earnings

    Posted on October 25th, 2019 at 10:53 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    I don’t dig into Microsoft earnings statements anymore. Paul Thurrott sums up the reason nicely:

    Microsoft is eager for investors to believe that it’s the equal of Amazon AWS in the cloud, so it engages in a little bit of semantic trickery by inventing a non-business called Commercial Cloud that includes a revolving cherry-picked selection of products and services that put its own efforts in a good light.

    That’s precisely what’s happened. You can no more compare “cloud revenue” (whatever that means) from year-to-year or quarter-to-quarter than you can compare the number of bugs on your windshield. Amy Hood once again demonstrates her considerable, enviable magic.

    Suffice it to say that Microsoft made a heap of money, that Office subscriptions are raking it in, that Azure is receiving the lion’s share of the publicity, AI (whatever that means) is everybody’s dahlin’, and that Windows is still a small lump of coal in an undifferentiated, increasingly forgotten corner.

  • Whittaker: Speak truth to power

    Posted on October 23rd, 2019 at 15:07 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    I just finished reading James Whittaker’s post on Medium called Speaking Truth to Power: Reflections on My Career at Microsoft.

    Wow. If you want to see What’s Really Wrong with Windows (one of my favorite topics), you really need to read this.

    If Windows was the only refuge for recycled failures — the wannabe leaders who energetically and emphatically backed Gates’ and Ballmer’s strategy that whiffed on the web, cloud and mobile — Microsoft might be ok. But the residue of the past is thick in enough places that it is suffocating the culture of tomorrow.

    Is there hope? For Microsoft, yes, absolutely. For Windows… I’m not so sure.

  • Microsoft 365 health status

    Posted on October 18th, 2019 at 10:30 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Yes, that’s copyright 2017

    Mary Jo Foley has details on ZDNet.

    Starting at approximately 13:42 UTC 18 Oct 2019, customers in North America are experiencing issues with Sign-in when Multi-Factor Authentication is enabled. Engineering team is currently investigating the issue and will send out an update as soon as possible.

    UPDATE: MS has modified the announcement:

    Title: Unable to access Microsoft 365 services with MFA

    User impact: Users may be unable to sign in to Microsoft 365 services when leveraging Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).

    More info: Users may not receive authentication requests via phone call, SMS or within their authenticator app.

    Current status: We’ve confirmed via telemetry and reports from some of the affected customers that service has recovered for a majority of impacted users. We’re continuing to investigate log data to better understand what caused this issue and to validate which recovery measures we took restored service functionality. Additionally, our telemetry indicates that this issue was specific to users located in the North America region.

    Scope of impact: This issue could affect any of your users located in North America if they leverage MFA to access Microsoft 365 services.

    Start time: Friday, October 18, 2019, at 1:30 PM UTC Next update by: Friday, October 18, 2019, at 6:30 PM UTC