Try as I might, I just can't get my mind around the relationship between Microsoft and the consumer. Would an auto company that sold you a bad part tell you to fix it yourself or pay it to correct its own mistake? That's ridiculous, of course. But the recent "black screen of death" incident, whether it turns out that Microsoft was the origin of the problem or not, points out once again the utter contempt that much of the technology industry has for its customers.
Microsoft moved quickly to absolve itself of blame for a glitch that essentially turns your computer into a brick in need of a data-wiping OS reinstall. That takes care of the public relations problem, I guess, but why not move at least as quickly to provide a fix for the underlying problem, no matter who's at fault?
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What's more, a simple analysis of Microsoft's basic support policy shows that its response to problems like this is, well, nonsensical. I'll get to that in a bit, but it's worth noting that Microsoft was at least willing to discuss the problem, while Hewlett-Packard, for example, which is charged by Microsoft with supporting customers who buy PCs with Windows pre-installed, has been silent on the issue, ignoring my request for a response. OK, I'm not that important, but its customers are, aren't they? And that underlines my point: This is an industry-wide problem.
The problem no one is owning up to
In case you missed it, here's a quick recap of the latest Black Screen of Death problem.
There have been reports by some Windows users since mid-November that they when they tried to boot their systems, all that would appear is a black desktop and a frozen system, thus the Black Screen of Death. The problem affects operating systems as far back as XP, not just Windows 7.
[ Windows 7 driver support is a problem as well. InfoWorld's Martin Heller tells you why. ]
Last week, the British security firm Prevx claimed that November Windows security updates changed Access Control List entries in the Windows registry, preventing some installed software from running properly. However, in a blog post on Tuesday, Prevx backed away from its assertion and said, "We apologize to Microsoft for any inconvenience our blog may have caused."