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Issue #536: October 29 – November 4, 2017

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Q: More comment than question. NOT everything Microsoft (Bill Gates) does is evil. With respect to the recent printer issue (I.G.T.M. Issue #532, Oct 1, 2017), would not the printer’s website have been a place to look for Windows 10 drivers? Also, my latest experience w/MS: Tonight I had occasion to have to reinstall Flight Simulator & its accelerator pack. The accelerator pack needed to be unlocked; however, the install process did not include that. I called MS’s toll-free number and in less than ONE minute the call was answered, I explained things, and the tech, taking control of my system, tweaked the registry, and voila, fixed. Within 5 minutes of the call ending his supervisor called me to confirm my satisfaction. He also said that the gentleman I spoke with now has me as a contact and that, if he’s working, any calls from my number will go to HIM, since “he knows my system.”

– Bill R.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A:  First, let me say that your experience with Microsoft is definitely the exception rather than the rule, Bill.  To the best of my knowledge, Microsoft does not offer free telephone technical support such as you described.  While I’m sure they have multiple toll-free numbers that one can use to reach various parts of the company, I don’t know of any one number where you can call-in, and with virtually no delay and minimal explanation, get instant personalized service.  Do you know what kind of a massive data center Microsoft would need in order to provide that level of service for the billions (with a b) of fielded products they have all over the world?  Can you imagine the expense to the company of staffing and maintaining such a facility?  It would eat up every bit of profit they make from the software just to pay the salaries of the millions of telephone technicians that would need to be on-duty at any given moment to answer calls “in less than ONE minute”.  Not to mention the cost of building and outfitting the center, plus heating and cooling costs.  It boggles the mind.  So, I would speculate that if you are providing an accurate description of your customer service experience, either you were using a pre-paid support package of some sort, or you were calling another company that provides support on Microsoft’s behalf, or you were dealing with support that is specific to your PC’s vendor, as I noticed that you own a particularly high-end brand of PC.  Regardless, I have never heard of anyone getting that kind of service from Microsoft, nor do I really expect to.  If that existed, there would be no need for this column.

Now, I have never said that Bill Gates is evil. Actually, he’s not really involved much with the day-to-day operations at Microsoft anymore, and instead has become something of a serial philanthropist, along with his wife, Melinda.  With causes ranging from the fight against AIDS to endowments to various universities, vaccines in 3rd-world countries and more, their foundation has given away countless billions of dollars purely for humanity’s sake.  That would make him just about the most UN-evil person around.  As for my occasional jibe, I do so because Mr. Gates represents to me the foundational decisions that have guided Microsoft to epic success, but also have touched each user of Windows, Office, Exhange, etc., with frustration and anger, sometimes daily, as the products sometimes do the exact opposite of what we end-users want.  His name is well-known, and by-and-large my readers seem to know exactly what I mean when I say “Thanks, Bill!”  I hope you realize I also occasionally use “Thanks, Steve!” when talking about Apple issues, and Mr. Jobs has been dead for over six years now.

Your question about the printer driver was, um, interesting.  I’m somewhat taken aback that you would believe that you’re the first one to think of looking on the manufacturer’s website for a driver, especially considering that I specifically mentioned the lack of availability of a Windows 10 driver in my response to Nancy C.  She had looked for one, her support tech looked for one, and I looked for one.  The entire rant that I did about planned obsolescence was based on that, so you kind of missed the point if you thought there might be a driver available.  Rest assured, there’s not.  Dell hasn’t updated the driver for that printer since 2013, for Windows 7.  It’s apparently not compatible with Windows 10, which means a perfectly-operable printer must be replaced against the owner’s will when she updates beyond Win 7.  That, I find to be unacceptable, and a disservice to a loyal customer.  So, thanks, Mike! (Michael S. Dell, Founder and CEO of Dell Technologies.)

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