I know quite a number of technology people with strong opinions about Microsoft and its products. Usually, not too positive ones. That does not prevent most of those people continue to use Microsoft products all the time, especially seeing how PC software have always been easier and cheaper to come by as opposed to, say, software for Macs.
Me, I never had to develop software on Microsoft platforms during my career and I never had much of a problem with my home PCs either, so I am a reasonably content PC person, always amused with anti-PC exaggerations in the mostly entertaining John Hodgman/Justin Long commercials.
I am also a late adopter who has never ever upgraded an operating system on a home PC. Moore’s Law in hand, I simply get better hardware once every few years, and use whatever comes pre-installed on it, which is more likely than not at the Service Pack 2 level by that time, meaning that all of the initial most annoying problems have been resolved already.
My last PC purchases until recently have been made before our move to England in pre-Vista days, so I have been happily running XP on all home devices. But I decided to renew almost all of the family home computers upon settling down back in the US. Before Windows 7 came out, so that my late-adopter bona fides were not impacted. Having never heard a single good thing about Vista, I made sure that my own new PC had XP installed on top of Vista installation. But for the new computers for kids, I did not bother with such specifics and ordered standard-configuration devices that came with Vista pre-installed.
One of those PCs came with an “invitation” for a free upgrade to then soon-to-be-released Windows 7. I misplaced that leaflet originally, but then came across it a couple of weeks ago. Late adopter or not, a free upgrade is a free upgrade. The information on the leaflet specified that I would be ordering an upgrade disk rather than doing any sort of on-the-spot installation, so I figured I’d get the disk while I was still inside the eligible time period and then decide whether to use it on some computer later.
I go to the online ordering site, type in the upgrade code from the leaflet, and learn that I am entitled to an upgrade from Vista Business Premium edition. Oops! The Vista installations that I have in the house are all Home Premium. The accompanying note on the website instructs me to be absolutely sure that I am ordering the correct upgrade, else it will not work.
I click through a couple of pages to find the appropriate support number, pick up the phone and within a few seconds speak to an “upgrade project team” member who introduces himself as John. After hearing my overview of the problem, he profusely apologizes for a mix-up and assures me that it is easily fixed. All he needs is the supporting documentation (literally, a scan of my upgrade leaflet and a print-screen of the operating system info from the PC in question) and my shipping address, so that they can order the proper upgrade version for me directly. Fifteen minutes later, I have the necessary jpegs which I send on to the e-mail provided to me over the phone.
Within 30 minutes, I get an email response from someone named Mario asking me for additional information needed to place the order. Apparently, my daytime phone number is necessary. I immediately respond. Within another hour or so, I get another email from someone named Malik that all of my information was received and sent up to the “processing department”. As soon as they review and approve, my order would be placed.
Next day, I receive an email from someone whose name I do not recall notifying me that my order has been placed. In less than 24 hours, yet another email comes, of seemingly automated nature, advising me that my order has been shipped and providing the tracking number.
A few days later, I get the package in the mail, with the Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade disk in it.
I’ve seen some efficient product-replacement issue resolutions (and even blogged about something of the kind), but this was right up there on the Great Service plane. Quite unexpected, to be sure. Props to Microsoft.
Now, do I really want to futz around with an almost brand-new PC that probably can safely run Vista for several years, given that its primary user – a certain 9-year-old – is only interested in internet and streaming video…