My job is focused on receiving feedback from customers and there’s plenty of it. Feedback comes from a great many sources including corporate customers, product support teams, critical problem resolution teams, newsgroups, blogs, ISVs, web developers, colleagues, friends and family.
One of the challenges of working on what is arguably the most used piece of software in the world is that there is such a broad array of customers with many different requirements. There are three broad categories of customer for IE:
- End users
The end user represents someone who uses IE for browsing the web. There are many different types of end user though, some are not technically savvy while others might be power users and many fall in between.
- IT professionals
This customer segment is concerned with deploying and supporting Internet Explorer within their organizations. That might range from a part time role of keeping a few machines up to date in a small company to a large network of many thousands of desktops running custom internal applications.
There are many different types of developers that make use of IE from Windows developers that host Internet Explorer components such as Maxthon to web developers focused on displaying content in any browser on any platform. The web developers seem to form the majority of readers of this blog which is another important feedback mechanism.
As a team we listen to all these groups through a wide variety of feedback mechanisms. There are regular chats on the web with members of the IE team that I help host, this includes monthly public chats that anyone is free to join and also private chats subject to Non Disclosure Agreement with our MVPs who provide valuable feedback. I look forward to all opportunities I get to talk with customers, either one on one, through the blogs, through the newsgroups and on the monthly chats that we host. We also have the wiki on Channel 9 as an additional place where you can leave feedback and suggestions.
As we collect feedback I look for common trends and ensure that we are listening to all customers, not just the most vocal set. We've been collecting feedback for our work on IE7 for some time through all these mechanisms, this helps us decide what work needs to be done and how to prioritise it. While some requests may have to wait for another major release I believe that IE7 will offer an unparalleled browsing experience on Windows.
I also noticed a recent eWeek article that said "Microsoft holds a secret Webcast with its closest partners to brainstorm on ways to improve Internet Explorer". I’m not aware of any discussion that matches eWeek’s description. As with any software project we talk to many different customers on a consistent basis and some discussions are confidential as we explore ideas and possibilities.