Microsoft and developer support……

I think that some MVPs and a very small percentage of Microsoft employees misrepresent these groups because it makes them feel more important and/or makes the program look very desirable to those on the "outside". This has a positive and a negative effect:

Positive - many developers desire to be in the group so they answer many questions on the newsgroups and in the process they help many developers.

Negative - some people feel they are slighted for one reason or another. It might be that they feel entitled to the information the "special" people are getting or it might be that they feel they deserve to be in the group (NOTE: I AM NOT saying that any or all of these reasons are what motivate people here - just examples at the forefront of my puny brain at the moment). There is a laundry list of reasons why the group may be viewed negative. Read Roy's message and ensuing comments for more negative.

I work in the evangelism group so I am always interested in what you, the developer, feel we can do to make your development experience on the Microsoft platform a pleasant one. Here is what I gleaned from Roy's post:

  1. Paid developer support should be free to all developers.

I didn't really see any other constructive feedback in that post. I did see a lot of misunderstanding of both the MVP program and the private newsgroups purpose/function.

I believe Microsoft has the most comprehensive developer support in the industry with its tools, paid support options, free support options like MSDN, and volunteer community (MVPs, 3rd party websites, etc.).

So, to wrap up this post I'd like ask you all to add a comment to this post that details what you'd like to see from Microsoft in the way of developer support? More of X or less of Y is perfectly acceptable. I'm NOT looking for “fix this bug“ but if you want to post it then I can check to see if it is a known issue. Please help us build a better developer support mechanism for you.

Comments (21)
  1. Paul Wilson says:

    I want to post a bug about .net global memory performance counters not actually being global — but where? I don’t want to use the telephone — where’s the online bug submission form?

  2. Alex Lowe asks <a href="">what Microsoft could do to improve their developer support</a>.

    In general I think they do a reasonable job given the huge surface area of APIs and products that need support, I think some of the MS staff blogs are helping too. But they could do more…

  3. Somewhat to Paul’s point, I’ve had a application break and I get the "Submit error" dialog. After submitting, at times, I’m forwarded to a web page where it shows if it’s been submitted, it’s status, etc..

    I’d love to see this fully fleshed out where anyone could go and submit bugs, view bugs, check status, etc… Logistically, this may not be do-able, but it is already being done in some fashion now. There must be a way to make this usable to the public.

    Just a thought!


  4. Developer Support from MS.

    The good:

    * Good Quality Free Training materials: MSDN Show, Webcasts, things like "sign up and we’ll send you a DVD and a book on Longhorn development", developer training events like the Codefests, etc

    * Developer programs like MSDN Subscriptions and Empower

    * In depth reference and training from MS Press. (A recent improvement on this topic: Including handheld-friendly copies of the book, hooray!)

    * MFC and MSVCRT sources in the Visual Studio CD

    * The encouragement of community support and user groups (e.g., things like promoting of .NET rocks from the MSDN pages)

    * Providing Watson logs and memory dumps to developer companies

    The "could improve"s

    * Easier access to library sources for .NET (similar to having the MFC sources, for debugging .NET programs)

    * Materials in a more accesible format (e.g., archived webcasts available as avi or wmf, not in a "special webcast format")

    The "I havent’t seen it yet but would be very nice"s:

    * API and development issue reporting and Tracking pages (as mentioned in other comments). It is not that paid support should be free, it is that a reasonable degree of free assistance should always be available

    * Couch-friendly materials (e.g, "The MSDN Show" on DVDs that can be played without a computer, not everybody has an XP media center! An entire year of MSDN show could fit on a 352×480 low bandwith DVD)

    The tough:

    The big challenge in the end, it is making Windows development "cool" and "exciting". The bells and whistles help but there is something else deep inside that drives the excitement. I personally had the impression that Windows Me and XP took that away while .NET and Longhorn are steps in the right direction to recovering it. The biggest threat for MS coming from Linux is not its price, it is how many developers find it "cool" (free and uninteresting would be a very small threat)

    I know I have included stuff that is not traditionally considered "developer support", like putting the MFC source in the Visual Studio CDs but I feel that there are things like these (good tools) that are very relevant to my perception as a developer (when we can help ourselves, we won’t feel a need for support and overall the platform will be "easier")

    P.S., the other thing I’d like to see is a "Preview" button in the MSDN blogs!

  5. Alex Lowe says:

    Great feedback, thanks!

  6. Roy Osherove says:
    1. Perhaps if there is such a misunderstanding of the MVP status, you should look more into publicly show what it is and what it isn’t. There is not a lot of info out there that tells you exactly what,where when and who is and MVP and why. No resources that point you into any central location. In all, it could and should be a more mainstream and known thing. I can tell for a fact that 95% of the developers in Israel that I know have no idea what the MVP acronym stands for.

      2. Yes paid developer support is a sham in my view. Me getting to make my application work is MSFT’s interest just as much as it is mine.

      3.How many evangelists are there? what does an evangelist actually do? What is an RD? how do I become one? Its all so fuzzy.

  7. S Bradley says:

    Roy regarding your comment of publically showing what MVP is and isn’t — welcome to the club… NO one knows what "MVP" stands for at Microsoft even people AT Microsoft. Go to that’s the launch site for MVP info.

    Even MVPs don’t know what a Regional director is.

    How about something simple….Just give me a page that lists all the KBs as they come out.

    Fix the KB search engine as I google everything, I don’t use the search engine of Microsoft.

  8. Doing things the hard way with RSS Bandit leads to some interesting statistics; Stuff for my Boss and co-workers; SOA and Joe Developer — Phillip gets it right (again); Bits on Reporting Services; Wake up and smell RSS.NET; htmlArea (drool); InfoPath duh; McD’s

  9. Ole says:

    My premier wish is an easy way to submit and track bug reports.

    For example, a menu item in Visual Studio (ie. Help/Submit bug report). This would open a web page where you could submit a bug report and view the status on all the reports you have submitted.

    I don’t expect Microsoft to provide support for all the bugs that are submitted, but I really want an easy way to let them know, when I encounter a bug.

  10. <i>"Additional information: An operation on a socket could not be performed because the system lacked sufficient buffer space or because a queue was full"</i>

    I’ve managed to get the <a href=""&gt;.Net 1.1 TCP/IP issue</a> that gives the above error mesage when trying to use sockets on .Net 1.1 fixed. Thanks to <a href="">Alex Lowe</a> for pointing me in the right direction and for the guys at MS support for allowing me to call them up and tell them I need to download the hotfix for <a href="">KB 826757</a>.

  11. Len Holgate says:

    I second S Bradley’s request for a page that lists KBs as they come out and I’d like an RSS feed of it too please.

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