Dear Microsoft: Why I Can't Recommend You

Dear Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella:

Herein, I would like to describe to you the process of remedying a Microsoft Office 2013 issue for one of my clients.

This client was running MsO2013 on Win7x64. The license was apparently an Office365 Home subscription that a previous technician had set up, and the subscription had expired. MsOffice was giving an unlicensed error in Outlook preventing the user from using Outlook, crippling his business.

To resolve this issue, I logged in to his Microsoft Office account online and attempted to renew the subscription. His credit card had expired so I needed to provide a new one. I did so, but the checkout process wouldn't recognize the new card, even after I refreshed the browser. I logged out, logged back in, and still: the Microsoft checkout process for renewal wouldn't recognize the new card, even though I could manage my payment options through Microsoft and see it there.

Frustrated, I had the client purchase the full license at $230 from Amazon. I stepped through the licensing assignment process to his Microsoft Office account which was successful, and I then activated the product using his email address. Office acknowledged the available license. Still, an unlicensed status still came up in Outlook.

The customer was now furious - and the customer had been down for > 1 day - the next option I had to was to uninstall your product and reinstall fresh from the portal distro. I uninstalled the MsO2013 product and reinstalled using the online portal to the machine. I opened Word and confirmed that the licensing was good, tied to his Office account. I setup his mail again in Outlook. Well over 1.75 hours (>$270 billed to my client) of combined support time for _installing_ and _licensing_ a productivity application.

This frustration with attempting to purchase, download, license, and use your products is why it makes it so difficult to recommend you.

  • Why should anyone who legitimately purchased your product through a subscription be denied access to using it should the subscription expire?
  • Why didn't the online checkout process recognize the new credit card?
  • Why did you force me to purchase the full product?
  • Why didn't the existing install accept the new licensing key/link to the Office user, even though it confirmed activation? 

If it's this difficult for a professional to install and license your products, how do you think normal users feel? That feeling is likely at the core of why you've laid off 7,500 more workers this year, in addition to the 33,000 you did in the last 18 months, because nobody likes that feeling. That feeling of frustration is what prevents me from getting the "warm fuzzies" about Microsoft, and often persuades me to recommend competitor products, because - with them - it doesn't take 1.75 hours to install and license a productivity application. 

Mr. Nadella, does Microsoft want to be a consumer electronics company that competes with the likes of Apple on the streets with retail consumers, or, do you want to be an enterprise IT company that builds reliable software that can be deployed in businesses? Right now, I don't know who you are, but you're increasingly moving away from being an enterprise IT company that I could potentially recommend to my SMB clients.

Thank you for your time.

R