Windows 7: No overnight sensation

Software vendors should aspire to the kind of customer service retail outlets deliver

As it turns out, David ("Where is my copy of Windows 7?") wasn't the only Gripe Line reader left waiting for Windows 7. It appears that Microsoft dropped the ball on reader Brian's Windows 7 order as well.

"I didn't preorder my Windows 7 Family Pack. But I did order it from the Microsoft Store on Friday, Oct. 23," Brian writes, one day after the OS was released. "And like the proverbial kid before Christmas who just can't wait, I ponied up the extra coin for Next Day delivery. I don't know why I didn't go to Best Buy or Fry's and just pick it up. I was under the impression that the Family Pack was only available for online orders."

[ Also on InfoWorld: "Follies, bad luck, and spooky happenings dog Windows 7's debut." | Frustrated by tech support? Get answers in InfoWorld's Gripe Line newsletter. ]

Fast-forward to Monday -- the "next day" after Brian placed his order. No Windows 7.

"The only email I received from the Microsoft Store stated that my order was processing," Brian writes. "So I called and, after much run around, finally got to speak with a supervisor." The supervisor told Brian his order would be processed sometime that week and he would have his copy by Friday or, at the latest, the following Monday.

"Why the $#%* would I pay for overnight delivery when that delivery actually takes seven to 10 days?" asks Brian.

Customer service: Retail's lifeblood

As someone who orders from rather frequently, I find this question more than reasonable. Shoes I order from are always on my feet the very next day. I once got a call from customer service at Zappos when someone thought my shoes would not arrive the next day because of a warehouse glitch, despite the fact that I had not paid for next-day delivery. The representative offered a gift certificate to make up for the "inconvenience." Even then, I was wearing my new shoes the day after I'd ordered them. Sure, it sets a high bar for service, but it's something to which software vendors such as Microsoft should aspire.

As for Brian, the Microsoft store supervisor suggested he placed his order too late in the day to make the cutoff time. "I put my order in at 7:06 a.m. on Friday," says Brian. "That's too late in the day?"

When pressed, the supervisor admitted, "A lot of people paid overnight delivery on Friday and hadn't gotten their orders by Monday." Finally, with much persistence, Brian got the supervisor to agree to refund the money for overnight shipping since Brian had not received this service.

"This conversation took about an hour from start to finish," says Brian. "But I have to say, I felt very sympathetic towards the supervisor. It sounded like he was having the day from hell."

Brian's copy of Windows 7 arrived on the Oct. 27. "I love Windows 7 so far," he says. "But then, I liked Vista."

Windows 7: Early returns?

I forwarded Brian's letter to Microsoft to see whether his problem was part of a larger trend.

"The issue Brian outlines is unfortunate but it isn't indicative of a widespread problem," a spokesperson responded.

Judging from the e-mails (and comments) in response to my previous post, it looks like Brian -- and perhaps one or two others -- turned up unlucky. For the most part, Microsoft delivered Windows 7 as advertised.

As for the OS itself, the verdict is still out. What are your early thoughts on this much-hyped release?

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