The way Microsoft handles user feedback is a topic that has made the rounds for too many times lately, mostly after the fiasco that Windows 10 version 1809 proved to be.
In just a few words, Microsoft released Windows 10 version 1809 on October 2 after the company decided to skip the Release Preview ring in the Windows Insider program, essentially bringing the OS update to devices worldwide without getting it through the final testing stage.
As it turns out, this wasn’t really the best thing to do, as the October update came with a critical bug that removed the user files stored in the Documents folder on some PCs.
Microsoft eventually decided to pull the update a few days later in order to develop a fix, and this time, it shipped the updated builds to both the Slow and Release Preview rings.
While software bugs are something we can’t avoid, the worst thing about this whole saga is that insiders reported the data removal issue several months before the October update received the go-ahead for production devices.
Microsoft somehow ignored these reports, despite they pointed to a critical issue because as it turns out, its engineers actually thought they were describing a similar glitch that was already resolved.
The October update was re-released earlier this month and Microsoft promised to pay more attention to the feedback shared by users because, as the company learned the hard way, it can help guide a specific product towards improved stability and reliability.
And yet, as it turns out, dealing with critical bugs in its software is still a challenge that Microsoft can’t handle. At least, not right now.
One of my favorite mobile applications is Microsoft Launcher, and I use it on all my Android phones because it includes tools that I need every day. More recently, the Launcher added support for Sticky Notes in the latest build, and as a Sticky Note user myself, this was truly good news.
And because I love the Microsoft Launcher so much, I decided to install beta builds and provide feedback to Microsoft in order to further improve the app. Needless to say, some of my questions and suggestions never received an answer:
@VishnuNath the recent and new sections in the app drawer somehow are limited to 4 icons for me despite the drawer configured to use 5. Is this how it's supposed to be? — Bogdan Popa (@bgdftw) October 13, 2018
I didn’t give up because I knew that the Microsoft Launcher team probably receives thousands of messages every day. And what I did was stick with the application and hope that a fix would be shipped.
In some cases, I did get an answer and the team confirmed that my reports were indeed accurate and what I came across were bugs that were supposed to be fixed soon:
Thanks for reporting. This looks like a bug :) we'll look into it! Just to check- did you have your dock enabled in 4.13? — Ezra Park (@ezp4rk) October 3, 2018
Most recently, I discovered another glitch in the latest version of Microsoft Launcher and just like before, I reported it to Microsoft. This time, it was an issue that caused some icons to be duplicated:
@VishnuNath I don't think this is supposed to happen.. I already reported the issue several times already, but still no fix.. pic.twitter.com/4jlzY4VTy0 — Bogdan Popa (@bgdftw) November 17, 2018
As you can see in the tweet, I reported the bug on November 17 and Ezra Park, Product Lead at Microsoft, replied the same day. Other Microsoft engineers also joined the chat, including Gorden Lin who recommended me, more than a week after my bug report, to do an app reset to check if the problem was still there.
And this is exactly what I did, not before creating a backup of my Launcher, of course. However, resetting the launcher made no difference, and this is what I told Gorden as well:
Hey Gorden. I just tried it and the duplicates are still there after importing my backup. — Bogdan Popa (@bgdftw) November 26, 2018
One of the problems that appeared after the reset, however, was that all my Sticky Notes were deleted. And because the app now offers synchronization across all devices, all my Sticky Notes, tens of them, were removed from all my devices. Including my Windows 10 laptop, my work computer, and my home PC. Without freaking out, I reached out to the team in the same conversation:
Oops. After resetting the app, it turns out that all my notes in Sticky Notes were removed, not only from the Launcher but also from my other devices. I think the Launcher deleted them and then the sync removed them from other devices. Is there any way I can get them back? — Bogdan Popa (@bgdftw) November 27, 2018
This was posted on November 27. No answer. Several hours later, I tweeted again, hoping a data removal bug would receive some attention:
Any advice on this? I really need my notes. — Bogdan Popa (@bgdftw) November 27, 2018
No answer. A day later I made one final request:
Uhm, so I reported a bug, tried a proposed workaround, lost my data, and now no response in over 24 hours. Not cool. — Bogdan Popa (@bgdftw) November 29, 2018
Still no answer. I'm giving up and removing Microsoft Launcher.
So there you go, yet another bug that has the potential of removing data from our devices and once again, I’m not even being told that the team is investigating. And during this whole time, I have no option than to wait and hope my Sticky Notes would magically reappear.
I know this is the risk of running beta software, but handling feedback so poorly not only that creates more frustration among your testers, but could also leave critical issues unfixed. Just look at what happened with Windows 10.