Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Top 10 Reasons why Microsoft is now doing a great job (Not that they weren’t before)

Yesterday, Ed Bott posted a great article over at ZDNet (It’s official: Microsoft is out of the Vista doghouse) about how Microsoft has lately been reclaiming its customer satisfaction that it may have lost from Vista. In fact, Microsoft’s customer satisfaction is at an all-time high since the American Customer Satisfaction Index Report initially started tracking Microsoft. Currently, Microsoft is standing at about 76 points out of a 100. It’s not perfect, not yet, but it has improved drastically over the past number of years. Most recently, a year over year change of about 8.2 percent.


I have my own personal reasons as to why this may be increasing so drastically. Of course, recent events at Microsoft may have had a drastic impact in their numbers. Windows 7 has received much more positive public support than its predecessor, Windows Vista. It’s no surprise though, at least to me, that Microsoft is in fact increasing its customer satisfaction, after-all, who hasn’t seen the “Windows 7 was my idea” commercials of late? To add to that, Microsoft has some pretty amazing products and services coming down the pipeline this year and next, not including what has already arrived (or soon to be), Windows 7, Office 2010, Zune HD, etc.


With all of this in mind, I’ve come up with my ten top reasons as to why I think Microsoft may be increasing their rating over the past number of years (yes, it’s not just Windows Vista “done right” anymore).


1) Windows 7 - I already mentioned this, but it is by far one of the best operating systems that Microsoft has come up with for some time. I can't recall when I was more excited about a Windows release, seriously. Windows 7 offers the best experience when it comes to media, security, and productivity. Put simply, Windows 7 just works, and it works the way that I, and probably most people, would like it to work. After-all, Windows 7 was my idea, right?


2) Internet Explorer 8/9 - The de facto browser in Windows 7 is a huge improvement over previous versions and I actually feel the safest when browsing the Internet with IE8 versus Firefox, Chrome, or any other competing browser. The inclusion of Microsoft’s SmartScreen Filter helps prevent phishing attacks, while the InPrivate browsing mode allows users to surf the web silently and safely. But that’s not all, IE8 also offers functionality over other browsers, such as the Accelerator button which allows users to link to mapping, translation, and search. The Platform Preview for IE9 only makes this strengthen my opinion of the current state of Internet Explorer. IE9 will improve upon IE8 in two areas where IE8 is somewhat lagging: speed and compatibility.


3) Zune - Yes, I love the Zune. I don't have a Zune HD, but I do have a Zune 120, which is a great media device. The associated software, simply entitled Zune, is a great media player that I use for much of my music needs. It's clean, simple, and it works. Microsoft also offers a terrific Zune Pass service which allows users to pay a $14.99 subscription every month for unlimited access to the Zune marketplace. Users can download as much music as they wish and load it up on their Zune, plus each user receives ten free music downloads per month that they get to keep for free (forever). The catch? Once you stop paying, you can’t keep using the music, unless it was one of the ten tracks that you get to keep. Overall, this is a great service and, I believe, Microsoft will continue to improve it, especially with integration now in the KIN and soon-to-be Windows Phone 7.


5) Xbox 360 - I almost didn't put this one on here. I don't personally own one of these devices, but I have experienced friends who have seen their 360's die more than I would have liked. However, Microsoft seems to have fixed many of the initial issues, and I figure I should give them credit for this. Plus, the capabilities of this device are amazing, not only does it offer a great gaming experience, but it serves as an excellent media extender for Windows Media Center. (As I’m looking at Microsoft currently, I thought it would be appropriate to look at the new 360’s versus the initial 360’s and their issues.)


4) Multimedia – I put this topic in here as a catch-all for what wasn’t included in the Zune and Xbox 360 topics. This includes Microsoft’s improvements to Windows Media Player and Media Center, also HomeGroup, which is an excellent new feature added to Windows 7. I enjoy using Media Center and use it, from time to time, to watch, record, and play-back television. It’s, I think, a very underrated feature of Windows.


5) Office 2010 - I was very excited about the new Ribbon UI introduced in Office 2007 among many other feature changes, and was worried Microsoft wouldn't be able to live up to the success of Office 2007 with 2010. I was mistaken. I think Office 2010 is a great move forward for both consumers and businesses. I'm excited about Office Web Apps, and the possibilities of SharePoint.


7) Microsoft and the Cloud – It seems like everyone is trying to get into the cloud of late, but Microsoft seems to be the one that is the most ready to face the challenges ahead, yes, even more so than Google. There’s so much going on here that it’s hard to list everything that Microsoft has been doing of late, but I’ll try to list of the most important. First, there’s Windows Live and its counterpart desktop component, Windows Live Essentials. Windows Live is a group of services that Microsoft has created in order to allow users to collaborate via the web even easier. Some of these tools include Live Writer, Live Messenger, Live Mail, Live Hotmail, and SkyDrive, which, I might add, offers 25GB of free storage up in the cloud. Another feature, Live Mesh, released in 2008 as a technical preview beta, and is still in a public beta to this day, offers a great way to synchronize data between PCs and the web. It gives you 5GB to store data on the web, plus unlimited storage if you sync only between PCs. It currently supports Windows, but will soon support Macs and mobile devices. This service will be added to Windows Live Services in the latest Wave 4 release. The great thing about these services is that they are supposed to be updated on a fairly regular basis (Microsoft has somewhat kept up with this promise over the years).


8) MobilityWindows Phone 7 will be arriving later this year (in September), and I think this has many consumers waiting eagerly for the official release. Windows Phone will offer some much needed updates to the current Windows Mobile 6.5 edition. It’s taken Microsoft a while to get a handle on deciding to make these changes, but now that they have, I’m pretty certain this will be one of the best mobile phones on the market. However, Windows Phone isn’t the only mobile device from Microsoft that’s coming to market. Microsoft recently unveiled its KIN phone, which is a great device for those who are addicted to social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.).


9) Microsoft Security Essentials - I can't forget about this. I use this on all of my PCs and have switched many of my friends and family over to MSE as it provides the best experience: virtually no user interaction. What more could you ask for? It runs seamless in the background, uses virtually no resources, and has kept all of my PCs safe while I've been using it. Oh, and it's free.


10) Security - a topic that could be discussed forever, I think that Microsoft has made some great strides over the past couple of years. I haven't had a PC virus since 2004, and I believe a lot of it has to do with how much Microsoft has been in this scene. I'm also hearing fewer and fewer people around me getting PC viruses (at least, the ones who use Windows Update on a regular basis). Windows 7/IE8 are two great products when looking from a security perspective in my opinion.


Well, those are just some of my reasons. I do have some slight nitpicks with some aspects of Microsoft and its products/services, but overall, I think they're making some great strides in improving the quality of everything that they do and make. All I have to say to them is to keep up the good work.



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