I find that an interesting comment, and it revives a question that's long been in my mind. The amount of feedback that floods into Microsoft is phenomenal - the company is inundated with it 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Microsoft software developers couldn't be given a better picture of what their end-users like, and what they dislike, and it's been going on for years.
When you go to the Microsoft headquarters in america and meet the people who formulate plans for future software releases your overriding impression is that here is a bunch of people who really know their subject - they're enthusiastic and motivated, and the one thing they want to know, above all else, is 'what do you think of it?
'It' being their product, their baby, the application or operating system that occupies their every waking moment. They are hungry for feedback and clever enough to know that what they think the market wants isn't always what it likes in the end. Microsoft has been at this software development business for many years now, and the one thing the company must have learnt in all that time is 'listen to what your customers tell you'.
How is it then, that the company 'still doesn't get it'? How is it that some of the brightest software developers and business managers in the world can't see what we ordinary folk see; how can they be blind to what is so obvious?
Microsoft's answer - at least one of Microsoft's answers - is that its critics are a vociferous minority, and that the vast majority of those who use its products are perfectly happy with them. They say that they're used to their company being pilloried for this or that, and that they're a soft target - it's pretty easy for anyone to take a crack at Microsoft on a web forum or in a magazine, knowing that there'll always be people who like that kind of thing.
I admit to being puzzled. On the one hand I've seen the irritating face of Microsoft on many occasions - the face that doesn't want to address criticisms,or engage with its end-users in any meaningful dialogue. That's the Microsoft of the press release and the curious jargon - the Microsoft that hands down tablets from the mountainside. On the other hand I've been on numerous beta testing panels and seen the painstaking way in which a giant company sets about gathering in detailed feedback and acting upon it. I've seen bug after bug revealed in special beta panel forums, and seen them being directly addressed by the people who actually design the software. I've experienced the way the Microsoft Press Office can be enticed into helping people like me to get access to decision-makers and problem solvers. It doesn't always work, and a great deal depends on your method of approach - I've found that if you don't treat these people as enemies of journalism, they respond accordingly.
The company is something of an enigma as far as I'm concerned, but over many years I've learnt that it's far from being monster some people make out. Whether Windows 7 is a triumph or a turkey remains to be seen, but one thing I do know is that Microsoft is very well aware of what's riding on it - bad press is bad press, when all is said and done, and there's not a business in the world that doesn't care about bad product or service reviews in the press.