back to article Customer comment and contributions no more as Microsoft pulls the plug on Office 365 UserVoice forum

Microsoft has demonstrated its commitment to customer feedback by, er, shutting down some of its UserVoice forums. Office 365 looks to have been the victim of last week's cull, although other forums, such as those for Outlook and Skype, continue to be active and a place where Microsoft thought-leaders can ignore customer pleas …

  1. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Reality check

    "...While the likes of Excel and Word continue to listen to the bleatings of users, Office 365 has abruptly been shut down ..."

    Did they ever actually listen, or were they simply trawling for complements that could be used as promo?

    Call me cynical, because I've become cynical.

    1. chuBb. Silver badge

      Re: Reality check

      Only seemed to be a tool for adding weight behind project managers opinions

      The lack of GPO or any enterprise management for teams is a joke, seriously you can't reliably force a client update or prevent its rollout like you could with sfb...

      Same with lack of exchange address book integration with telephony, but then teams seems to be the result of poached social media staff who don't understand enterprise requirements just how to clone slack and zoom with added sharppoint.... Annoyingly it's almost excellent just let down by its lack of enterprise management eg sharppoint best ui update had been teams people actually use it as intended instead of an overcomplicated samba share with added excel macro

      1. grizewald

        Re: Reality check

        They probably got sick of all the Linux users like myself who use Teams on Linux complaining about the fact that we are treated as second class citizens when it comes to getting new features which are regularly added to both the Mac and Windows versions.

        It was only recently that the "Raise hand" feature was added to the Linux Teams client after being available for six months or more on other platforms. As for getting "background blur" any time soon, I'm not going to hold my breath.

        The whole "Teams runs on Linux" bit seems only to have been done so that they can say that it runs on Linux while conveniently forgetting to mention that the functionality is significantly less compared to the Windows or Mac versions.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Reality check

          It's not just Teams. It seems that Linux users are very poorly treated for these types of applications.

          At least Teams has a native Linux version. Webex (my company's chosen collaboration tool) still has to be run through a browser, and crashes the tab on my work Thinkpad T430 running RHEL Workstation with more than one or two people having their cameras on.

          This seems quite ironic for two reasons. Firstly, it seems that within Cicso, there are a significant number of Linux users. Secondly, it should be possible to create a client that shares a significant amount of development between MacOS and Linux.

          I suspect that the main reason why Linux is poorly treated is because it is thought by many companies that with Linux being Open Software, it becomes possible to hijack secure channels at the kernel level. This was certainly the argument back in the DRM-encumbered media days a decade or more ago.

          1. whitepines
            Alert

            Re: Reality check

            I suspect that the main reason why Linux is poorly treated is because it is thought by many companies that with Linux being Open Software, it becomes possible to hijack secure channels at the kernel level. This was certainly the argument back in the DRM-encumbered media days a decade or more ago.

            And yet, somehow, it's Windows that's running a bunch of black box lowest-bidder Chinese or Indian code at kernel level. Go figure.

            And don't tell anyone at Microsoft about what a hypervisor could do with those secure channels while running underneath Windows. Wouldn't want them to cotton on to the house of cards they've built.

        2. chuBb. Silver badge

          Re: Reality check

          Pure me twoism on ms's part

          Wouldnt bother with the elctron app (desktop client) just use the web interface, its the first thing MS support tell you to do, on the long and stupid road to getting them to admit that their lastest typscript enhancements the product team has spaffed out might have bugs or needed further testing with telephony or voice users not just vid calls....

          If you dont mind getting your hands dirty (your running *nix so i guess you dont mind config file fettling) try adjusting the useragent string that the desktop client sends to one the mac one uses, depending on your flavour of linux and audio sub systems you can often get a more up to date experience, as far as im aware the main sticking point is unified api's on linux to control mic/speaker/cam access where as on every other platform thats much less of a moving target, and why the web client works better as your browser vendor of choice has provided that api through the HTML5 WebRTC extensions they all support... (obv no proof that this is the case, but it makes sense and is bourn out by my experiences [you can do the user agent trick to also get the android apk to run in phone mode i.e. desktop teams phones are android tablets with a handset attached have root will fiddle ;)])

      2. Snake Silver badge

        Re: opinions

        "Only seemed to be a tool for adding weight behind project managers opinions"

        I'm sorry, but Is there any other SOP in today's computing world (*cough Mozilla*, *cough Oracle, *cough Adobe*...)??

    2. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
      Flame

      Re: Reality check

      Every time I posted something there was usually a patronising "no, we're not going to do that" answer.

      For example, Excel has a single undo stack meaning get something wrong in one spreadsheet half an hour and you undo everything you did in every other spreadsheet you're working on to get there.

      Workaround: (in Excel 2013) turn on the "open multiple instances of Excel" option, each workbook opens in its own Excel. Problem solved.

      Excel 2016: removes the option altogether.

      Me, on UserVoice: can you either fix this problem or give us the option back.

      Microsoft: hahaha. No.

      So no, listening? Maybe they were listening. Did they care about their customers? Absolutely not.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The lack of warning or obvious replacement is,

    This sort of thing seems to happen a lot.

    I hope someone has created an unofficial mirror of the ElReg forums, just in case ... :-)

    1. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: The lack of warning or obvious replacement is,

      I home someone has created ...

      https://web.archive.org/web/20210307030158/https://forums.theregister.com/

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Ridiculous

      El Reg is not Borkzilla.

      The day El Reg forums are shut down is the day El Reg is dead, and God prevent that from ever happening.

  3. Chris G Silver badge

    Perhaps

    They have been hearing more truth than they need?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Perhaps

      That's been going on for 25 years now, if not longer.

  4. redpawn
    Coat

    You still have a voice

    Yell at the damned thing til you calm down. There, that fixes it.

  5. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Customer Manglement

    Given the Rejects of Redmond have a hate-love relationship with their customers I am not surprised they pulled the plug on a customer feedback mechanism. They hate customers but love their money.

  6. TRT Silver badge

    Has anyone seen...

    The latest advert for Teams? That’s the name of the game!

  7. RedneckMother
    Linux

    I use LibreOffice on Linux.

    M$ can continue to decline.

    1. nematoad Silver badge
      Happy

      Yes so do I, but we shouldn't intrude into private grief.

  8. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    No renamed forum is currently available.

    Are you SURE about that?

    How far did you look?

    Office 364 ? Nope.

    Office 363 ? Nope.

    Office 362 ? Nope.

    .

    .

    .

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: No renamed forum is currently available.

      It looks like you’re writing a post to complain about a Microsoft product. Would you like some help with that?

    2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: 7 thumbs up & 1 thumb down

      The Register Puzzle Corner.

      Answer me this question and I will try to guess whether it was you that downvoted me:-

      After Office 360 what's the next number in sequence? Is it...

      Office 359?

      or is it...

      Office 357?

  9. StewartWhite

    Microsoft claim at https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/uservoice-pages-430e1a78-e016-472a-a10f-dc2a3df3450a that

    "Note: We will be moving away from UserVoice feedback sites on a product-by-product basis throughout the 2021 calendar year. We will leverage 1st party solutions for customer feedback."

    Utterly academic anyway from the point of view of Microsoft actually listening to the views expressed - they're just ceremony to pretend that they're listening whereas they obviously know far better than all their customers.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Every year for the last 15 years I’ve been putting a suggestion into their (and Apple to be fair) product feedback that alongside spelling abd grammar checking they should implement date sanity checking. Eg 29/02/21 or Wednesday 9th March would trigger a red wiggle and potentially ambiguous dates and times eg terms like this Friday, Monday week or midnight Wednesday, would trigger one of the blue lines with a suggestion of a more precise form.

      And has this ever appeared? No.

      Am I still getting emails and documents where I have to go back to the sender and point out they edited the date but not the day or that the relative date or time would be ambiguous? Yes.

      1. hitmouse

        I think this was flagged as a Smart Tag feature about 20 years ago and the world and its dog said "hell no". Then Google did an amped up version of it a few years later, and everyone rolled over for a good rogering.

    2. Diogenes8080

      Well of Lost Souls

      Uservoice was useful for seeing that a problem one had discovered was in fact general, that others were complaining about it and it had not been fixed since {yore}.

      With its closure, the quality of Techcommunity may go down unless the moderation becomes highly partisan.

      This would also be a blow for "Microsoft Product Support" if their remuneration depended on not forwarding irate customers to Microsoft proper.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Well of Lost Souls

        The complaints department was the only one to show a consistent profit.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UserVoice forums are a handy way for companies to collect feedback on their products

    as well as a black hole away from social media where complaints would be positioned much higher in search engine results. Well, they DO care!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UserVoice way of doing things

    The way of doing things:

    1 social media - wow! we can communicate directly with our beloved customers, how great is that?! So, as they effectively shut down option to complain over the phone, people flood social media and bitch about the company and the product(s) IN PUBLIC - cost to MS and others to have to own up and fix their fuckups, all under the barrage of numerous, not-so-flattering, comments.

    2. ff 15 years later - everybody keeps bitching on social media and other internet-based-media, but MS (and others) finally realized they no longer need to do much about it, as complaints became a bacground drone, noise pollution which they can effectively ignore.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Historically, Borkzilla has only ever backtracked when the backlash was massive.

      The rest of the time, it's "how many users complaining ? 0.00001% ? Leave it be".

  12. Christopher Reeve's Horse

    While the likes of Excel and Word continue to listen...

    Thank god for that, or I literally wouldn't know how to fill my working day!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Giving user opinions to tech companies...

    has to be considered a testimonial case of "pissing into the wind".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Giving user opinions to tech companies...

      You see the problem is that your bog standard user *WILL* piss into the wind because they don't know what they're doing and they won't bother to use either common sense or read the manual, whilst your seasoned and properly trained professional will always piss with their back to the wind... this is why we know better than them and just ignore them. Besides... they always smell of stale wee.

  14. Ossi

    Buzzword Bingo Time!

    OK everyone, get your buzzword bingo cards out. Here's Microsoft's explanation of why Cortana on Harmon Cardon Evoke speakers has come to a crashing halt.

    "As we shift Cortana to a more productivity focused transformational AI-powered assistant experience in Microsoft 365, we need to shift our areas of innovation and development to provide our customers the best possible experiences."

    At this point, not only have they taken away the smarts in your smart speaker, but they've also taken away the will to go on.

  15. whitepines
    Coat

    Define "best"

    we need to shift our areas of innovation and development to provide our customers the best possible experiences.

    [Goes to load the latest interminable meeting or task list]

    "[sad cloud icon] The Microsoft Cloud is having a whoopsie. Try again later."

    Do that for a half an hour and (pre-virus) we could all go home / to the pub instead of the office, at which point Microsoft would have indeed provided "the best possible experience".

    Wait, wasn't that ambiguity the plot of a certain Asimov series? Seems appropriate with the mention of the "AI-powered assistant".

  16. hitmouse

    Feature Parity

    So now Microsoft feedback is at the same level of Google, Apple et al who just strangle their forums or busy threads every few years ... or Amazon who simply don't allow customer feedback any more.

    Apparently all the people who are supposed to be fixing bugs and analysing user feedback just spend all their time writing comments on other sites.

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