Is Redemption Possible?

Before I start the actual blog post I've got a little house cleaning to do. I got called down by a reader who says I should define my terms. As it turns out, he's a Unix user and isn't familiar with our acronyms, and while it's usually a safe bet that my readers are Windows guys, this is a small enough request that I certainly don't mind doing whatever it takes. So, just to catch you up, the 2 acronyms I used in

Before I start the actual blog post I've got a little house cleaning to do. I got called down by a reader who says I should define my terms. As it turns out, he's a Unix user and isn't familiar with our acronyms, and while it's usually a safe bet that my readers are Windows guys, this is a small enough request that I certainly don't mind doing whatever it takes. So, just to catch you up, the 2 acronyms I used in the last post are:

CTP: Community Technology Preview... this is the new MS term for a beta. And while I'm sure I'll get an email from some marketing guy explaining the differences, as far as you Unix guys are concerned, it's a beta.

RTM: Release To Manufacture... this is the final version of the product that goes to market.

OK, now on to today's post.

To be brief, of course redemption is possible.

I recently wrote a blog about my bad experience with trying to uninstall VSTE for DBAs. I thought now that the issue is resolved, I should come on and share the results with you guys.

OK, so when we last left our hero(me) he was stuck with having to uninstall VS entirely or rebuild his box. So what I decided to do was uninstall. Unfortunately, that didn't work(I didn't figure it would). So I then used the utility MS gave me that completely wipes any trace of VS or the .NET framework. And you know what... that didn't work either. Everything except VSTE was uninstalled. That's just great. So now, per MS, my only option was to rebuild the box. So I decided to try to get it off myself. I ran a registry search on 'Visual Studio Team Edition' and just killed anything that came up. Oddly enough that worked, and didn't destroy anything else. So, I was able to reinstall and everyting appears to be working just fine now.

Now, here's the new part. I got a call this morning from Robert Merriman. He's the guy who actually wrote the setup for the VSTE in question. Apparently good news travels fast and this blogging thing works after all.

Unfortunately it hasn't changed MS's attitude at all. Robert was rude, insulting, and completely apathetic to my problems. In fact, I got the feeling that he was only calling because someone threatened his job if he didn't. At one point in the conversation he actually told me that MS was starting a list of troublemakers who would never be allowed to install betas again, and he was going to make sure I was on it or die trying. Whatever dude...

Actually, that whole last paragraph was just for fun. I've got this vision in my mind of some exec at MS getting this glazed look over his face and having to remember to breathe as he reads thats. Robert was incredibly helpful, and extremely polite. I can tell that he really likes what he's doing and actually takes pride in the code he writes. That's right, I said Pride. That's not a word you hear too much in the software industry anymore. Anyway, thanks for the help Robert, if only it had been a day sooner.

Robert did share some things with me though that I'd like to pass along to all of you. The first thing is their team forum. Which can be found here: VSTE for DBAs forum. This is evidently the place to go to get some real help with something.

There's also the Team blogs at: Blogs. I'm sure you won't be able to get any actual help here, but it's always good to keep up with things.

Now, how seriously do they take forum problems... that's the question. Because telling people to go to the forum and actually making it worth their time are two different things.

And to this purpose, they've added a customer feedback form and Robert assures me that they take this very seriously, and ordinary DBAs get the same treatment as worldwide celebrities like me.

And that brings up another point... forums. One reason that I don't really go to forums much is that in the past, I've never really gotten much out of them at all. I'd submit a question that would go unanswered. I'd submit it again, and it would again be ignored. So forums in the past haven't really been much help. It's funny isn't it... how long initial impressions can last?

I also didn't know they even had a forum, which is at the heart of something I was talking to MS about a couple months ago. How does a big company like MS get the word out on things like webcasts, forums, and other resources they publish to help the community? Because they were telling me about a webcast I should've seen, and I said, well, I would've had I even known about it. And I consider myself to be someone fairly in-the-know about SQL Server stuff. So if I missed it, then how is the ordinary user going to hear about it?

As well, this whole thing also proves to validate my initial blog on this issue. Why did I have to blog to get decent support? There are all kinds of things I could say about that, but you get the idea.

I also have more to say about the forums and other sources, but I've got a blog on this topic already planned and I don't want to step on my own toes.

I've only got one more thing, and that's on reliability. I touched on this in the original post, but it could stand some elabotation here. Let's look at the situation that I just finished. I got a guy on the phone who gave me less than accurate support, and I blogged on it. Now, look at what that negative press does to a company like MS who, let's face it, hasn't had the easiest time in the press over the last 10yrs. That little bit of negative energy is going to make its way to someone reading this blog, and is going to get told to someone thinking of installing an MS product. Then it's going to get told again and again and again until it's so distorted I wouldn't even recognize it. Now, of course, I'm redeeming them here with this post, but what if not everyone who read the last post reads this one? That's the problem with things like this. You can't be guaranteed you'll reach the same audience every time. And that's why companies need to make a greater effort to please every customer, not just the world-famous ones.

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