I have been appalled at what has taken place over the last week. And now that it is over, I want to talk about it… because something needs to be done.
The utter fiasco that spilled out into the blogosphere should never have happened. In case you’ve been in Timbuktu, Long “Quixote” Zheng and Rafael Rivera found several issues with UAC that he was concerned about. AFAIK, he went through what he thought were the proper channels… but that right there is where things fell apart.
Because Long felt like he wasn’t being listened to, he blogged about it. Which is exactly what I would have done, because he was really concerned that it was a problem. Then all hell broke loose. Microsoft went into “know-it-all-pouting” mode, at first not saying anything, and then arguing the fact that it wasn’t technically a vulnerability and they weren’t going to fix it. Then they said whined about taking the emotion out of the discussion (which was only there in the first place because we were being treated like idiots who didn’t know what they were talking about). Them, they completely backpedaled, saying they were going to fix it, and quoted someone else who suggested they just change UAC to prompt before making changes to UAC settings… which is EXACTLY what Long suggested in the first place! AAGGGH it’s aggravating even thinking about it.
Microsoft may a have been pissed that the problem went through the wrong channels, but it’s their own stupid fault. Because there already is a channel where these things are supposed to go through. It’s called the Windows Featured Communities program. That’s where people who run Windows communities, like myself, Tom Warren from Neowin, Bob Stein from ActiveWin, and others, get together to talk about Windows stuff in a private forum. It’s managed by Microsoft and the Windows Communication team, yet for the last 4 years, we’ve been virtually ignored by the product team. Because they think we are the enemy, they don’t want to engage us. they’d rather segment us off, and then ignore us.
Well, that has to stop, and now. We are not the enemy. Long did not do what he did out of hatred for Microsoft. He did it because he was passionate about Windows, and did not want them to make an easily correctible mistake. That’s what the frickin beta program is for in the first place, for cryin out loud! But Microsoft’s technical beta process is a joke in some respects anyways. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent HOURS researching a big, documenting it the best way I know how, only to have it closed as “By Design, Won’t Fix”, without any discussion. They might as well close it with a picture of the team giving the camera the middle finger, because that’s what it feels like: “screw you and your time, we’re smarter than you”.
Had Long been in the Featured Community program like he should be, and had the Windows Division grown up and started talking to us, whether they liked everything we do or not… Long would have gone through THAT channel instead of airing dirty laundry in public, and Microsoft could have avoided all this stupid nonsense. And THAT is why I’m airing THIS dirty laundry in public. Because I’m tired of being ignored. I’m tired of being handled with kid gloves, and being babysat by PR. My counterparts and I have earned the right to have a direct line to Microsoft.
And I hope this situation illustrates exactly why the current situation cannot continue. Congratulations Microsoft on doing the right thing, and having the guts to admit you screwed up. I knew you’d get around to it eventually. Try not to be so masochistic about it next time, eh?