Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

The Great UAC Debate of 2009 Is Over

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?

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Comments

  • Neil said:

    Robert

    One thing still bothers me regarding win 7 .... how many times has microsoft done this sort of thing before ?

    How many things has microsoft said "By Design Won't Fix" to ?? I sincerely hope that it is only this one alone.

    If something is wrong with it fix it now, not in service pack 1....2 or 3..... NOW !!!!

    Microsoft has gotten to used to doing this sort of thing, it is only now that the "new wind of change" has come to microsoft are they actually caring (or seem to be caring) about the users of their software products.

    Microsoft give people the best that way less and less people will go to other OS's than windows, and think that all the ms is interested in is our money, hence people writing microsoft has "micro$oft".

    Take the big hint do something !!! The better the quality the more people who buy it ..... simple !

    February 6, 2009 12:16 AM
  • Devin said:

    There are a lot of decent folks who write blogs, you included. However, most of the blogosphere are a bunch of whiny, egotistical little bitches. They don't know or care about proper channels.

    That said, Microsoft could have responded better. At some point they need to make revamp some of their feedback channels. The feedback button on every window in the 7 beta was a good start. Add a feedback applet to the control panel and tie it in to that nifty flight data recorder app.

    The online accessibility of the feedback system needs to be more obvious. At the top of windows.com are headings: Home, Products, Buy, Downloads, and Help & How-To. Ok, so do something like add Feedback to that list, or in some other prominent, above-the-fold way.

    Of course, this all hinges on whether or not the various teams are willing to engage the community, and at least pretend to care about feedback.

    February 6, 2009 2:36 AM
  • Dave said:

    I almost cried reading this.  Thank you!  Beautifully written, even if under the duress of emotion.  I have been part of many beta programs for Microsoft and it seems the past five years have begun a slide into a new direction (away from customer engagement).  I thought I was the only person that felt that way.  Again: thank you!

    February 6, 2009 6:23 AM
  • Rob said:

    Beautifully written? I think not. It reeks of some of the very same childish behavior the author claims Microsoft exhibited.

    February 6, 2009 7:35 AM
  • Greg said:

    I agree that this was an issue and that ms could have handled this better.  What I don't get is the melodrama.  I think if you're getting emotional over this you need to take some time off pal.

    February 6, 2009 8:46 AM
  • Steve said:

    +1 on Greg's comment.  If you have something important to say in your community, I know that it's escalated through the same channels that got the UAC discussion to Devaan and Sinofsky. Get a grip over your self importance.

    February 6, 2009 10:01 AM
  • Hey guys, sorry if you feel like it is melodramatic... but try getting anything done as a technical beta tester, and you'll see why it is so easy to get frustrated. It's not like I'm new at this... my concerns have been percolating for quite some time.

    And maybe you guys are missing some context for my point of view. I used to be an MVP for ASP.NET, and I had an MVP Lead, who functions as my advocate to get me whatever I need inside Microsoft. I switched over to being a Windows MVP, but that program was vastly different, and they hardly shared any info. Now, the FC program was supposed to go that route a while ago, but it never materialized.

    Second, my day job is connecting companies to their customers through community. For example, I've done some work with HP in this area, and they are doing a fantastic job engaging with influencers. I don't feel that Microsoft is doing a good enough job in this area, and if they had been engaging more, this would have been avoided.

    So I'm sorry if you don't agree with my frustration. But I am familiar with the frustration of being ignored in a program that is supposed to be about gathering feedback and interacting with customers.

    February 6, 2009 11:17 AM
  • Stoic Joker said:

    Neowin's website is neowin.net, not .com ... incase any body else tried the link in the article above :)

    February 6, 2009 3:42 PM
  • Maximus said:

    From the Engineering 7 blog:

    "The first change was a bug fix and we actually have a couple of others similar to that—this is a beta still, even if many of us are running it full time. The second change is due directly to the feedback we’re seeing."

    "We want people to be comfortable with the new UAC control and the new default setting, so we’ll make the changes outlined above as the feedback has been clear."

    Hm, sounds like they are saying they were already in the process of making some changes, but they have ALSO taken on board the blogger feedback.  Seems clear and believable.  I'm another one of your readers who think you'll probably feel differently after you've had a chance to cool down..... :-)

    Now the only thing that concerns me, is whether the second change was made for PR purposes (to satisfy tech bloggers), or because it's really necessary.  Seems the first change would have been enough?

    February 7, 2009 3:57 AM
  • Mark said:

    I've heard a lot of what I consider "high end " writers/blogger's being  frustrated during this beta process .It appears like the features we see are already set in stone, so the beta has changed from a traditional beta to more of an advanced marketing release. So far it's worked and I've yet to hear anyone of consequence not be generally thrilled with Win 7 beta, the UAC issue aside.

    February 16, 2009 12:25 PM
  • Neil said:

    And now that the UAC issue has been dealt with ......guess what is now on neowin.net yes ...you guessed it.... talk of a end of February release of the RC !

    Which fits in very nicely with the launch of the new range of Asus Eeepc's that Asus has said will be released utilizing Windows 7.

    February 19, 2009 7:49 PM
  • Brook said:

    If I get a “By Design" or "Won’t Fix” at work it is usually because of a difference of opinion or because it would take a long time to implement for very little benefit. But when it happens I still lean over and ask why.

    March 25, 2009 7:42 PM
  • I agree that this was an issue and that ms could have handled this better.  What I don't get is the melodrama.  I think if you're getting emotional over this you need to take some time off pal.

    May 4, 2009 9:42 PM