Perhaps some of you are still bathing in the pride you felt when Microsoft accepted your ideas for Windows 7. Several of you seem, indeed, to have appeared in the company's advertising (played, perhaps, by slightly more photogenic humans).
However, I may have some bad news for you with respect to Windows 8. It seems as if the company might not care so much about receiving your ideas this time.
At least that is the impression gained by former IT Manager Chris Carlucci from Hopedale, Mass. when he approached Microsoft with an idea for Windows 8. I won't give too much away about his suggestion, save to say he thought that one small part of the operating system might be made easier for the average human being to operate.
The e-mail he received in reply from a Microsoft Customer Service Representative called Alex might make some question the nature of, um, communication as we know it.
For Alex began in a hopeful tone: "I understand you would like to submit suggestion for the next generation of Windows. I will be glad to assist you with the information."
However, things went a little awry in the very next paragraph: "Chris, I would like to inform you that, while Microsoft does accept suggestions for existing products and services, we do not accept suggestions for new products, technologies, processes."
Wait on there a moment. But what about Windows 7? What about all those customers who said that Windows 7 was their idea?
Alex continued as if Windows 7 had never happened: "We hope that you will understand our intention to avoid any potential misunderstandings or disputes that may arise from submissions of information not related to current Microsoft products. Thus, we are returning your information without review."
Carlucci was confused. So he sent me the correspondence. Still blinking, I contacted Microsoft. While the company does insist that Windows 7 was, indeed, created with the helpful suggestions of customers, I was unable to get a statement from anyone at Microsoft regarding this specific correspondence. Should I get one, I will happily update.
Many will feel this is just a case of a customer service representative who might not have chosen the best course of action in representing his company's customer service.
But Alex's e-mail did manage, perhaps, to put a final little needle into Carlucci's altruistic bent with the words: "Microsoft does value your feedback. We would like to encourage you to continue to send us suggestions on the products and services that you use today."
Carlucci's reaction: "Talk about making me speechless."