Microsoft truly hates its customers (or gives a flying f**k about them)

Recently my Hotmail account on Outlook stopped working. I got various messages (I think Microsoft just makes them up) but the most common ones were:

Task ‘AG Hotmail’ reported error (0x8DE00005) : ‘There is an error synchronizing your mail account. Please verify your account is configured correctly by first accessing your mail on the web. Error: 3219. Server. An error occured in looking up the user’s information in mserv. ‘

Task ‘AG Hotmail’ reported error (0x8004102A) : ‘Error with Send/Receive. There was an error synchronizing your folder hierarchy. Error : 80041004.’

I spent hours spread over several days trying to fix the problem. I Googled extensively and tried practically every solution that was suggested including a clean boot, deleting and recreating the account in Outlook, reinstalling, repairing and many more. Nothing worked. Of course, in the process I lost all my Hotmail messages from Outlook, although I could read them online (which is a pain). Finally, I wrote up a question on and received this tip:

When you login to your mailbox via the web, do you see “Preview” in the top-left corner? If so, it means your mailbox got migrated to the new Office 365 platform for

What!?! Anyway, turns out that “I have been migrated”. Scary sounding, isn’t’ it? I am sure some message appeared in Hotmail that warned me that I was being migrated, but I didn’t take it seriously. And why should I? Let Microsoft upgrade, migrate, find new businesses, just let me do my work, OK? Well, I was very, very wrong. Read on…

Anyway, that tip led me to a page describing Outlook migration changes. There I learned that I needed to recreate the account with a connection to the Microsoft Exchange server. I went ahead and did that, thinking it would be seamless – but that would be too much to expect from Microsoft, right? After a couple of error messages and repeating every step, I was finally able to do the needful. As I write this, Outlook is resynchronizing my account and some emails have appeared.

But the saga is not over yet. Apparently the process makes the Hotmail account and data file the default. So it is like a “first time use” of Outlook. What does that mean you ask? Well, for one thing, it destroyed all my rules! Not only that, some rules no longer work because of some change in the software.  Luckily I had a backup of the rules from a couple-three of months ago. Unfortunately, I was in the middle of completely reorganizing my rules and had made major changes a few weeks ago – all those were lost. As I connect with people, I add them to my whitelist, and all those people I had connected with over the last three months are gone from the whitelist! Another few hours of unproductive time as I fix that (Grrrrr!).  Not Microsoft’s fault, of course, but then what do they care? A company that cares about its customers would have explained the whole process and warned about the loss of data. My Hotmail account is rarely used (one need not wonder why), and I could easily have done without it or checked email on the web rather than put up with this!

There’s more, but in the interests of brevity, I’ll stop ranting here and just say this:

  • Why don’t the programmers and product guys at Microsoft understand that we don’t want upgrades? We’d rather have stability. I really don’t have time to fix all the problems you create for customers.
  • Continuing with that thought, Microsoft Office, of which Outlook is a part is supposed to be “Office Productivity Software”. Instead, it eats up days at a time, with some arcane bug or the other. I really, really beg for an alternative. (And no Google Docs doesn’t cut it, unfortunately).
  • I am pretty adept on the computer, having used Windows since 3.1, but what about the poor souls (like my wife) who aren’t really into technology? Why should they have to put up with loss of data, loss of time, loss of money and extreme frustration because of Microsoft’s inability or unwillingness to care about it’s customers.
  • This is just one example of the exasperating problems that Microsoft creates for its users. In its other software and even in the Operating System there are tons of more examples. Of features that don’t work right, or don’t work logically, or are simply counter-intuitive.

Microsoft really needs to sit and observe customers who extensively use its software and learn to not infuriate them. I could have a dedicated blog just describing my daily frustrations with Microsoft.

So, this was long overdue Microsoft joins the list of #CompaniesWhoHateTheirCustomers

Dear Facebook – We won’t get fooled again!

Facebook’s blatant attemptKill Facebook FreeBasics to kill Net Neutrality in India died last year when massive opposition from ordinary Internet users in India scuttled the project they called (sic) Now, resurrected right around Christmas (they should have waited till Easter J) under a different name – “Free Basics” they seem to have made inroads by signing up (according to them) over 800 developers and millions of ordinary users.

A number of very credible people have written very detailed and thoughtful criticism of Free Basics and the attendant double-full-page advertising campaigns.  Here are two of them:

Free Basics Is A Charmingly Seductive Do-Good Effort That in Reality is Sinister by Giridhar PaiGiridhar Pai, Sr. Vice President at National Bulk Handling Corporation Ltd.

Facebook is misleading Indians with its full-page ads about Free Basics by Mahesh Murthy, Marketer, Venture Capitalist, Corporate Speaker. Founder, Pinstorm. Co-founder, Seedfund

Microsoft too has criticized Facebook’s characterization of Free Basics (although that’s a little like Trump critiquing Hitler), saying that to describe Free Basics being compatible with Net Neutrality is misleading (Economic Times, Page 1, Friday 25th December).

I won’t repeat all the well-made arguments made in the articles I mentioned, but I do want to make three salient points:

  1. If Facebook really is interested in getting more people on the Internet, why are they limiting Free Basics to just their own site and a few others who have promised their fealty to them? Why not open up the entire Internet and subsidize access to those who can’t afford to access it otherwise? The answer is obvious – Free Basics and its predecessor are simply a naked attempt to shore up their bottom line, either soon or in the long term.
  2. Any kind of walled garden – no matter what/how good the intention, is anathema to a free, fair and democratic Internet. Even if (and I don’t believe it for a second) Facebook really is being altruistic, the moment any future manager at Facebook (Zuckerberg or anyone else) decides they have done enough “good” and want to cash in on the millions of users they have lured into their lair, they can. And it will be too late then.
  3. As part of their campaign on their own site, Facebook shares that 29 of my friends “…have sent a message to TRAI about Digital Equality in India”. TRAI, by the way is the Telecom Regulator in India, and so they make it look like my friends are part of a campaign to right a wrong in India. In fact, the wrong if any is being perpetrated by Facebook. There is no option to vote against the proposition, so to speak.

Bottom Line: Don’t support Free Basics or; in fact let’s actively fight this and all other attempts on the fragile but important meritocracy of the Internet.

One suggestion: Use the form like I have to send the opposite message (see the graphic).

Microsoft shows it’s disdain for users again

MS Idiocy

Microsoft loves to do this – make changes that you don’t understand.  It has become impossible to keep control over what has become a complex and unmanageable system.  I’ve been with Microsoft since Dos 1.0 (It was IBM DOS then) and I have seen every version of Windows.  Back then, it was actually possible to tweak the system so that it did exactly what you wanted it to do.  And a lot of tweaking was not even necessary, because it wasn’t so complex.  Today, when I boot up my system, it is using about half of my 8 GB of RAM!  I really feel the need to kill certain processes, clean out unwanted stuff from my 720 GB hard-drive, but more and more the true purpose of files is hidden.  And, as illustrated above, Microsoft goes and does things to my system that I can’t even track down.  What if that software was something I wanted?  Something that actually improved the security or stability of my system.  After all I have a full-fledged Anti-Virus software installed and running.

Damn you, Microsoft!

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