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Reader comments: Will the Real MS Customer Please Stand Up?

Ubiquity, Volume 2000 Issue June, June 1 - June 30, 2000 | BY John Gehl 


Full citation in the ACM Digital Library

      I question the second sentence of Joseph Newcomer's note. He writes, "Microsoft is delivering to the customers what the customers say they want. ..." The problem is either that the statement is not true, or there is a definition of "customer" behind his sentence that is different from the common definition. As a matter of fact, this is a ubiquitous situation. Newspapers are full of claims that Microsoft (MS) products benefit consumers and customers. From my reading of the reality of MS products -- the customer or consumer of Windows or Office or whatever is the distributor or retailer, not the end user. Thus MS is concerned only with groups who rarely use the products that they build. I came to this conclusion after having tried to interest MS in getting end-user involvement in their products, and being rebuffed. I know they have a usability lab, but the problem is deeper. As an end-user, I must accept whatever MS (and other suppliers) gives me with no recourse. I must accept minor changes to updated products that give me minutes or hours of confusion (changing toolbars, for example), products with mountains of bugs, etc. I sometimes feel that I, an end user, am just a quality control tool for MS. No wonder they can sell the products cheaply; they sell faulty products and the end user must bear the cost of these faults. This is a good game and I bet that other product manufacturers, e.g., automobiles, wish that they could do the same -- their profits would be as huge as those of MS. My point is that there is a difference between customer and end-user. We should be clear on this.

-- John R. Swenson


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