Microsoft’s PowerBI Knowledge Base offers lorem ipsum (and little more)

From a co-worker:

This is a screenshot of Microsoft’s new PowerBI dashboard platform. I needed to talk to their tech support so I clicked the “contact support” link and got this screen. Again, this is not a preview, or a beta, but rather their live support request form for a production product.

Look closely, and those informative knowledge base articles have topics like “Article 1” and “Long test article”, not to mention the ubiquitous, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet…” I wonder if they used the Lorem Ipsum generator for the text?

Microsoft PowerBI Knowledge Base fail

An exercise in frustration: Getting product keys and support using the Microsoft Dynamics CustomerSource web site

“Microsoft Dynamics CustomerSource is an information-packed, password-protected site for customers who use Microsoft Dynamics products.” (Microsoft’s words, not mine.) I decided to use this information-packed, password-protected site to get my recently purchased product keys for Dynamics CRM 2011.

Below is a summary of my experience.

First, I go to the Product & Service summary page on the My Account page.

Then, I click on Registration Keys.

Then, I choose the appropriate version (2011) and upgrade option (No) and get the following message: “The keys you are trying are of Volume license, hence they will not be shown from MBS.” (I have no idea what MBS is.)

Frustrated, I try getting support by clicking the support link on the “Contact Dynamics Operations” page.

Which yields a very unhelpful support page that tells me, “Our apologies…An unexpected error occurred.” At least they are apologetic.

Despairingly, I click the ROC Contact Information at the bottom of the page (I have no idea what “ROC” is) and get a different apologetic error.

Pretty unimpressive, even for Microsoft.

Forcing users to choose a browser other than Internet Explorer doesn’t help them

In the news this morning, I stumbled across an article, EU: 100 million Microsoft users to choose browser. Reading this, there were a few instances of questionable logic.

The first instance (emphasis added):

Microsoft is starting this month to send updates to Windows computers in Europe so that when computer users log on, they will see a pop-up screen asking them to pick one or more of 12 free Web browsers to download and install, including Microsoft.

Microsoft is allowing users to choose one of more than 12 free web browsers, because the EU didn’t like Microsoft bundling its own free web browser into Windows. Call me strange, but punishing a company to give something away for free because it blocks out other companies from giving their own products away for free strikes me as odd.

The second instance (emphasis added):

The EU’s executive commission said giving consumers the chance to try an alternative to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser that comes with the widely used Windows operating system would “bring more competition and innovation in this important area.”

Wait, didn’t we just read that there are “more than 12 free web browsers”? That doesn’t sound like lack of competition and innovation to me at all. How many industries offer a choice of over a dozen free items? None that I can think of.

web-browser-market-shareI am aware of Microsoft’s predatory practices in the web browser arena, particularly related to the browser wars between them and Netscape. Microsoft muscled out Netscape by giving away its browser for free, something Netscape didn’t do until early 1998. Isn’t that a good thing for consumers? Further, client software (such as Navigator) was a small portion of Netscape’s revenues, and at the time, “Netscape has successfully shifted its business over the past year toward enterprise software sales and to revenues from its Web site business, and away from standalone client revenues” (source: Mitchell’s Blog). If Netscape was successful in transitioning away from a client product, but ultimately failed in the enterprise marketplace, why is Microsoft being punished?

In the end, Microsoft was penalized for providing a product for free – and forcing the market leader to ultimately transform their business (“successfully”) and offer their own (similar) product for free. The fact is, Microsoft’s efforts were largely responsible for the explosion of free web browser alternatives – yet the EU still feels a need to punish them because there is “[not enough] competition and innovation in this area,” as they say.

Final point: let’s not mention the pain and suffering that novice users will have after installing other browsers, wondering where their bookmarks went, and wondering why they are being prompted to (re-)install Adobe Flash so they can play YouTube videos.

Some things are better left alone. This is one of them.

Live search’s extra spaces (only for Firefox, of course)

Go to and do a search to see a nifty AJAXy popup search results box, powered by Live Search and including some advertising (which I deliberately grayed out below). Look closely, and you’ll see the URLs in the search results (circled in red) have spaces where spaces just shouldn’t be. No surprise, this happens Firefox but not in Internet Explorer.

About the only thing missing is a "Best viewed with Internet Explorer" logo, circa 1998. This really inspires me to click the "Get my own Search Box!" for my site — I’d just love this bug to be reflected in my own work, too.


Stupid things to say: “Point your favorite browser to…”

I received an email today from Microsoft, “Introducing MSDN Online Subscriptions!” Very exciting for sure; I had no idea this is something new, as I’ve been downloading things from my MSDN subscription for years. But I digress. The “stupid thing to say” in this email is:

Point your favorite browser to

Do you expect people to choose their least favorite browser? Or any browser other than their favorite? Or, does it even matter? Why even bother adding those words — why not just say, “Go to“. This is an MSDN subscription e-mail; the users are likely to know what you mean.

To digress again… my subscription expired months ago. Why are they telling me to update my subscription to online only — shouldn’t they be trying to get me to create a new subscription? Oddly, the email includes my old (expired) MSDN subscriber number, which is meaningless as I can’t use it or renew it.