04.12.10

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Microsoft’s Handling of E-mail So Poor That It Might Get Dumped; Microsoft’s VLSC Broken for Months

Posted in Mail, Microsoft, Servers at 4:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

White rope

Summary: Microsoft’s business is hanging on the balance as reliability issues lead customers to exploring other options

OVER a year ago we assembled a few dozens of references about Microsoft's failure in E-mail. Exchange is a sure path to data loss, Hotmail is a nest of SPAM, and OneCare has deleted people’s entire mailboxes. These are just some of the many mail issues that we’ve covered here over the years.

According to this new report, Microsoft is in trouble after another major crash.

The crash resulted from a Microsoft server error that affected schools across the U.S., in the United Kingdom and Australia, Division of Information Technology Director Terry Robb said. The system has experienced delays and other issues this semester, sometimes leaving students unable to send or receive e-mail.

According to another new article, these crashes are a recurring problem.

In fall 2009, students switched to Microsoft Outlook Live for student Webmail. Not only was there a litany of problems during and shortly after students made the switch, but Webmail completely shut down this week.

Students couldn’t check their e-mail Monday evening or Tuesday morning due to problems with the Microsoft server. The server still had issues even after coming back online. Some students experienced delays with e-mail, and the e-mails of others were still offline.

Students faced a slowdown in e-mail delivery during February.

[...]

This week’s crash was absolutely unacceptable and will hopefully renew the discussion of switching. Although there were problems with the last switch, the Division of Information Technology and students will be better prepared for them after going through the issues once already. DoIT will be better prepared to curb problems with the switch and better guide students to do so.

Microsoft has become almost synonymous with serious reliability problems, a recent example of which being VLSC [1, 2]. It was down for about a month and is still not functioning properly. Mary Jo Foley seems to indicate that it has already lasted for several months and there is still no permanent solution.

Microsoft partners and customers who have been complaining for months about problems accessing their software due to problems with Microsoft’s Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC), take heart. Microsoft is preparing to roll out a “version 3.5″ of the site, incorporating new fixes and updates, before the end of April.

As usual, Microsoft finds some external factors to blame. A classic example is Microsoft blaming BSoDs on “third parties” and blaming users for Windows Vista’s utter failure. Here we have Microsoft blaming plug-ins for the fact that Internet Explorer 8 is flaky [1, 2].

Add-ons account for more than 70 percent of browser crashes in Internet Explorer 8, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft used similar types of statistics to defend Vista. Rather than address practical issues it resorts to blame shifting. This is never a good sign.

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2 Comments

  1. your_friend said,

    April 12, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Gravatar

    Hotmail is more than a nest of spam, it is a Microsoft case study in how BSD is cheaper and more reliable than Microsoft’s “dog food” even when Microsoft software costs nothing to deploy. Microsoft, supposedly, was never able to move all of Hotmail’s services off BSD despite wasting years and billions of dollars. Besides the reliability problems of using Microsoft software, Microsoft also intentionally downgraded the interface for non Microsoft users and few people liked even the “better” version shown to Microsoft users so the service continues to lose users. Microsoft stagnated and ruined Hotmail while Gmail was busy offering users excellent threading, pop and imap download interfaces so that any client could be used, contact managment, more space and overall performance.

    Microsoft is doing similar things to Yahoo’s web mail right now. They have made interface changes that users hate and are loading it with even more advertisements. I must assume that the interface changes are also designed to discriminate against people who use anything but Microsoft software but Yahoo’s webmail has always been feature poor next to Gmail.

    For about a year, I’ve been forced to use Outlook at work and can say that it is the worst email client available. It does not thread well, so users are forced to look at things in chronological order. It is still based on an all in one pst database file, so performance is slow at best and it will still blow up when it gets to a file size greater than Microsoft’s primitive and flaky file systems allow. Contact auto complete is based only on email spelling, not names, so you have to type your contact’s leet aol name for the service to grab it. “Fred Baker” for example does not complete on “Ba…” or “Fr…”, only on whatever the email address is, which might be something silly like “mountaingoat@msn.com” IIS lookups are also lacking, by only being able to look things up by last name. Worst of all, Outlook wants to use other pathetically insecure Microsoft programs like IE and Word and so pulls problems from a 30 year old code base that was never intended for networking into email.

    Free software users easily and quickly forget how limiting and sorry Microsoft software really is. It is shocking how stagnant the company is. The problems cited more than ten years ago for the Hotmail migration are still valid and Microsoft has made things worse by concentrating on dirty tricks instead of improving their software.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It is still based on an all in one pst database file, so performance is slow at best and it will still blow up when it gets to a file size greater than Microsoft’s primitive and flaky file systems allow.

    Last week I spoke to a friend whose Outlook mailbox got ‘nuked’ when he upgraded Office. He needed to restore from backup.

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