Microsoft, BT And My Computer
E-technology may well be becoming more accessible, but it still has its problems if you’re just the customer. These last few weeks have brought this message home for one aspiring e-user at least.
I’d be the very first to admit I’m totally below the horizon when it comes to things e-technical, but I do seem to know a bit about how to deal with emails, blogs and such like. A-level Physics was a very long time ago – no computers then, anyway – and my relationship with my e-suppliers is the same (in my mind) as that with my newspaper shop, car mechanic or whatever. They deliver the goods and I use them.
So in a vague sort of way I expect that my IT suppliers will look after the technicals, the supply chain and so forth, and I will give them money to deliver a service, before we reach the part of the process which I’m responsible for.
It was a surprise therefore when all things e-technical went quite seriously awry in this office a few weeks ago. My email went on strike and my data-save service stopped working, all at about the same time, so I couldn’t access any back-ups, exactly when I also couldn’t read or send any email. (And I couldn’t just restart on Outlook 2003, before you ask, because it’s sold out everywhere. Why? is a good question…)
It turns out that these things were both related and not related. It was bad timing, but also bad luck. My only good fortune was that the wonderful Nick Prior (and a few very e-technically-minded house guests over the festive season – thank you, Nick and all!) managed to work out what the problems were:
The problems diagnosed
Firstly, although Microsoft had updated my Office system rigorously, I turned out still to have an ‘old’ copy of Microsoft Outlook 2000. How was I to know, having used the system for some years, that as soon as a large number of attachments reached me just before Christmas, this file would hit 2 gigabytes and flatly refuse to respond at all?
There were no ‘warnings’, nothing to let me know things were about to go haywire, it just all STOPPED…… and took until early January to sort out.
Secondly, the very act of Microsoft’s updating my system (they offered, I didn’t ask them to) was also the cause of my BT DigitalVault going on strike, even before I’d managed to get it started. BT ran a Net service before this, and they – again not I – insisted on my updating and starting a new system. When I rang
to ask why DigitalVault was failing to register my data I was met with a weary ‘You haven’t just updated to ‘7, have you Madam? Could you downgrade again?’
Well, no chance of that, so I still have a non-functioning ‘service’ whilst I await the basic courtesy of BT and Microsoft talking to each other on behalf of their (paying) customers.
Communication is the key
As on so many other occasions, more attention by the suppliers to communication might have resolved things even before I knew about them.
If Microsoft had enabled a notice to warn me about the 2 gigs limit, I would have ensured it wasn’t reached – a much better solution that the e-surgery, random and necessarily brutal, which was eventually required to get the system going once more.
And if BT and Microsoft had talked to each other before the launch of DigitalVault (or, come to that, if BT had warned me not to permit the Microsoft upgrade, which happened just after I’d signed up for the data protection) I would not now be paying for a function which doesn’t work.
Technical challenges or customers?
Like many other not-particularly-technically-engaged people I expect to be able to use my computer to do simply what it says on the can: in my case, essentially www searches, emails, documents, spreadsheets and weblogs. Not that difficult really.
There are many like me, I suspect ,who have a feeling that the challenges of advancing e-technology are more interesting to most IT people than are their humble customers.
So it’s not surprising, is it, that not everyone wants to embrace the brave new e-world?