Blogs – useful, or just more noise you need to deal with ?

Here's some questions for you...

  1. Why do you read blogs, and more specifically, why do you read Microsoft blogs ?
  2. Has your impression of Microsoft as a company changed from reading blogs and viewing MSDN Channel 9 or the video podcasts from MEDC/TechEd content ? 
  3. Should we (Microsoft bloggers) translate the content we produce on the blog into technical white papers or support knowledge base articles rather than posting to the blog ?
  4. Have you seen Microsoft make product design decisions based on feedback in the community/blogs ?
  5. How about bug fixes, have you seen any bug fixes, or power toys created directly from your community/blog feedback ?

I'm interested to know whether this is a useful way for Microsoft to share information with you, our customers...

- Mike

Comments (20)

  1. Ian says:

    I do read MS blogs and find them usefull. For example Charlie Owen’s Media Center blog is very usefull for picking up Media Center tips.

    My impression has changed, at least you can get to see the human side of the company, and teams that don’t blog seem to be not listening (hello Windows Media Player team!)

    I would say keep posting to blogs, its much more personal than posting on the KB and easier to find.

    Not sure about the video podcasts but from doing the Windows Media Center show I have a few guest on from Microsoft and found there content very interesting. Also .net rocks podcast.

    Can’t think of anything specific for points 4 and 5 but I am sure there are.

    Since doing the whole Media Center podcast I have found most people at MS very approachable

  2. mihailik says:

    1. Why do you read blogs?

    Because it contains bunch of information impossible found anything other.

    2. Has your impression of Microsoft as a company changed?

    Bad question. Has my impression of my city changed? Yes, it changes continously by too many causes. My impression of MSFT changes continously too and blogs are great cause. But is it most important cause?

    3. Should we translate?

    No. Just let it flow free as is.

    4. Have you seen?

    Personally I have not. But I read about such cases.

  3. Wayne Taylor says:

    1. Because you find real world examples of problems/issues/solutions…. you get to speak with people who are connected to the software and because of that this leads to help. Just image when I tell a client that I can engage with MS staff, it is impressive and it sounds impressive.

    2. My impression of MS hasn’t changed all that much by reading blogs or watching c9 videos, as I’m pro MS anyway, what I will say is that it’s made me think just what a great company MS is, even though MS does have flaws, but then so me any company which doesn’t!

    3. No, just let it happen, if you formalise this then it’s not going to be a different than looking at KB, TechNet Articles, they are great but a little to formal at times.

    4. Not as of yet, I do feel MS reacts to some things but not others for example RAW image support, great, now lets have a update to Media Player to Support RSS – why wait until longhorn/IE7, if Apple and embrace quickly why can’t MS?

    5. No I can’t say I’m aware off, just yesterday however I watched the C9 video about OneNote and I read Chris Pratley blog and there is an entry about power toys and a competition being held to write a power toy, one of the suggestions, is a power toy which would allow IM conversations to be pasted into OneNote, which I thinking of looking at this week in my spare time (evenings).

  4. Doug says:

    1. I read the blogs for the technical content. Tips and tricks and pointers to useful information are what I look for.

    2. C9 and the blogs have given good impressions of the individuals working for MS. I hope that the individuals are representative of what the company is about.

    3. Previewing the technical content in a blog is a good way to get feedback before it goes into a more formal presentation. Blogs should not be seen as a primary conduit for technical information as they are the opinions of the blogger. Information presented inside the MSDN Library tree is more definitive as it peer reviewed and edited.

    4. Dave Winer mentioned something about MS reconsidering an aspect of Longhorn RSS because of blog feedback.

    5. I can’t recall seeing anything in this area. I think the biggest impact for bug fixes and public involvement has been through the beta test feedback system for VS 2005. It has some blog like characteristics but is specifically targeted to bugs. It would be great if the feedback bug system could be expanded to more products.

  5. Paul H says:

    1. I read blogs because they give me direct access to information that is deviod of marketing speak and that sanitizing effect of the formal publishing process that IMHO removes a lot of the value for the end consumer of the message.

    2. I applaud Microsoft and any company for supporting factual, open communication from its team. Yes, I feel more positive about the brand as a result.

    3. At some point blogs content should be formalized – into knowledge components like white papers or into product through requirements specs etc.

    4. I can’t say whether blogging has lead to a product enhancement. My experience as a product manager was that you get inputs from multiple channels and evalute the ideas discussed from there. Blogs are an important vehicle for the inter-company communication mix and great forum for spawning new ideas.

    5. Same as above. Can’t say because the cycle is to long to establish a specific linkage.

  6. Sarah says:

    1. I read blogs to get the most up to date information on a specific subject. I read Microsoft blogs because most of the time this information is more useful and more up to date and relevant than on their website. It is also easier to find.

    2. My impression of Microsoft changed a little from reading blogs and viewing the channel 9 podcasts. However it is constantly shadowed by lack of developer support for CE and hotfixes that break other parts of the windows platform! So I do still wonder what Microsoft do in terms of software testing!!!

    3. Don’t convert the content into technical white papers it would waste your time and ours. We only need one copy of the information. It would be far more useful for you to add the blogs into the search engine to find the content that we are looking for.

    4. I haven’t seen any decisions or product design decisions based on feedback which is a shame.

    5. Microsoft need to listen to their developers more! Please fix the bugs in Windows CE!!!! I have informed you of one and it still hasn’t been fixed. Win CE with CDDB crashes after 4.5 days under certain conditions when the CEDB is in use!!!

    This isn’t to say that Microsoft are terrible, just that they can improve by doing a few small things:

    Test thoroughly

    Listen to where the developers need support

    Fix bugs that the developers identify

    Give feedback on progress

  7. Gursharan says:

    As you have put down the questions in a beautiful modular way, I will try to answer them in the same format as well.

    1. I read and write blogs as i feel that it is a better way of sharing one’s daily experiences with people( diary sounds girlie- Bridget Jones diary;-)). Writing a blog gives a feeling hey I shared things for the day and I myself wont even forget them now. I read Microsoft blog because technology is into my mind from past few years( when i completed my school:-)) and I see Microsoft as a respectable company doing lotta technical stuff and good people at MS like you who make sure that no techie stuff misses the blog wall.

    2. MSDN Channel 9 is an interesting( only if u have bandwidth) way to know about the nooks of Microsoft and the work it is doing. The people are telling stuff which is "technical"(not always – which is good, a break too is necessary).

    3. I feel that translating this content into white papers will kill the freshness and will also hamper the enthusiasm with which one turns on to the blog (thinking that the paper will be released some good day). It would then work as an encyclopedia and I wonder how many people learn things from an encyclopedia. They only turn to it only if the source of knowledge is something else, asking for more help on the issue.

    4. Yes at the WESC :-))….

    5. The best example to this is the bug in the CeFileWiz that was brought up on the blog and was then corrected. Am i right?

  8. Flaphead says:

    1) As they are interesting and contain more news that we would findout internally at Microsoft

    2) Yeah, more open an honest, especially when you catch people unawares 😉

    3) Translate, nope, as you ALWAYS loose something in translation

    4) From Blogs nope, not seen it at all. But I have seen changes from general customer feedback

    5) Same as 4) not see any any

  9. boss says:

    1)listening to what people are doing now is better than finding out 6-9 months down the line when you may/or may not see a presentation.

    you also can connect with people that you may not have the chance to chat to.

    2)Microsoft is our field of development and the openness of the blogging helps us to get the info we need and under other circumstances would have had severe trouble getting.

    I think that blogging , channel 9 and now some mad man with a camera podcasting has made Microsoft feel developer friendly which having been on the Sun side was NOT the case. so yes.

    3) as long as the material is available, maybe as a blog archive. Unless the material as a standalone shouts out write me up don’t bother.

    4) VS 2K5 Keyboard mappings 🙂 , but most of this came from inside microsoft

    5) no

  10. Marc says:

    1. Blog posts are a good entry point to get technical information.

    2. It’s not that blogs hide the "dark side of Microsoft", but it’s good to see that *people* develop the software, not a bunch of borg drones.

    3. I have to admit that Technical white papers and knowledge base articles are the very last sourc of information that I use. I even prefer books and magazines.

    4. Yes, some features in VS2k5 are an example.

    5. Bug fixes: Yes (VS2k5 again), but maybe they would have been fixed anyway.

  11. sriram says:

    I know that I probably shouldn’t comment being a MS employee – but since I’m a relatively new hire, I thought it would be ok. I was inspired to joing Microsoft after reading blogs and getting to know of people like Raymond Chen and Larry Osterman. Blogs were instrumental in making me a Microsoft fan.

  12. Jeff Horton says:

    1. I find that the blogs give me much more content in context and entertainment than I get from whitepapers or other research. I read ms blogs to find out about new,interesting things ms is doing and changing.

    2. I was just thinking about this, my opinion has changed for the better. I enjoy seeing that the people working at ms are passionate about what they do and enjoy the company. It has even made me think about applying.

    3. If something is useful, I wouldn’t mind seeing the content additionally in the kb, but not exclusively.

    4. It seems that the rss support in longhorn had community involvement and that is a great thing compared to how the itunes/podcasting has been recieved.

    5. I haven’t specifically noticed.

  13. Sean Chase says:

    1. To keep up with everything going on in almost real-time. 🙂

    2. Yes, I think Microsoft is very good at communicating with its customers. I don’t know any java developers who feel they have this kind of community support.

    3. Sure KBs and MSDN articles, maybe even demos!

    4. Absolutely. E&C for C# is a great example.

    5. Yes, ASP.NET 2.0 breaking change to having a PageBase class defined and working with controls created automatically in a hidden partial class.

  14. Anonymous Coward says:

    1. For technical info (OldNewThing, Larry Osterman, others…) and to hear the MSFT point of view of competitive technologies/licensing (Jason Matusow).

    2. Nope. I would say the one advantage it may have for MSFT is receiving user feedback prior to shipping.

    3. In addition to, not rather than. Raymond Chen’s postings are great morning reading and should probably be formalized somewhere, but don’t take away the blog.

  15. 1. Well, because it´s the Human Way and the fastest way to get into the technology.

    2.Of Course. When we see the people inside the Microsoft, we identify with them. The normal media just gives attention to the marketing/product "aggressive" way of Microsoft. I feel that because i was on the Windows CE Challenge finals and heck – I really like the Microsoft Enviroment. You could talk to anybody – Everyone was acessible over there, and the ones that impressed most was Chris Gray and Corey Burke. It´s a pitty that i couldn´t have time to talk with you, Mike. But i took a picture 🙂

    3. Well, first publish on the blog then, after create a tool that pushes the blog data into a msdn article (with reviews too). Sometimes the crude information is good for people that reads the blogs, but not for everybody.

    4. Well not yet…

    5. CEFILEWIZ is a good sample… This should be implemented in the future with some other features that are create a better user interface to put the files in various different directories at the Platform

  16. Jeff Parker says:

    Why do you read blogs, and more specifically, why do you read Microsoft blogs ?

    The content comes out and flows faster than anything else on the planet, that and it is good content many of questions we want to know but never seems to get published anywhere else. I find Microsoft blogs just people much like me, writing about what they do in more of a real fashion. Not like overly edited and proof read just really the real person and personalities behing the blogs.

    Has your impression of Microsoft as a company changed from reading blogs and viewing MSDN Channel 9 or the video podcasts from MEDC/TechEd content ?

    Yes, I think it has, I have always been pro MS but they now seem much more open and easier to reach and talk to.

    Should we (Microsoft bloggers) translate the content we produce on the blog into technical white papers or support knowledge base articles rather than posting to the blog ?

    Nope, kind of like the answer to number one. Once the postings start really going through refinement then they start to just become white papers dull and boring.

    Have you seen Microsoft make product design decisions based on feedback in the community/blogs ?

    Yes multiple time. The tabs in VS, I also half sometime wonder if Coding for fun Development center was my idea. I am sure there are other roots to it, but I mentioned something like it way back here and a few months later out pops coding for fun. Anyway I see things changing because of the blogs I see the language guys asking opinions. Sometimes I feel sorry for the IE team they really get beat up hard.

    How about bug fixes, have you seen any bug fixes, or power toys created directly from your community/blog feedback ?

    Yep, I see that as well like the example above there are a lot of things I have suggested and seen done even a channel 9 video specifically covered a topic I was curious about. I give a lot of feed back. Sometimes maybe too much I think I am sure there are more but I google searched me on the msdn blogs. I do give a lot of feedback 😉

  17. JD on MX says:

    Pages on the desktop: I have a bunch of browser windows open now, and the links seem too interesting to just close and forget, so in the extended entry there’s a line or two on each…….

  18. 1. Seven out of ten times, it’s from a Google search. The remainder, linked from other blogs. That should show how relevant most of the information is.

    2. No, but I’ve never made sweeping judgements about company based solely on its products.

    3. "Rather than?" No. If it’s something that should additionally be in the KB or a white paper, then it should go there anyway, whether it’s blogged about or not.

    4. Haven’t paid enough attention to the blog/product cycle relationship to make that assessment.

    5. This is actually the first feedback I’ve left on a Microsoft blog. The primary reason for me even reading this is that I find it amusing that a blog questions its own raison d’etre.

    Nothing wrong with a corporate blog, as long as it’s not used to disseminate misinformation, though that pretty much applies to any form of communication.

    So the short answer is: useful, yes, but it’s still more noise (though you can’t fault the medium for that).

  19. Microsoft employees are asking themselves and their customers’ questions about the affects of blogs. Mike Hall’s Embedded Weblog asks his customers several questions about feedback 1. Why do you read blogs, and more specifically, why do you read Microsoft blogs…

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