Dear Microsoft,

Can we just be friends again?  Please?

It’s been exactly five years now since I left you.  During our time together, I poured all the emotion and energy I had into the products I helped build for you.  In return, you treated me well and made me feel special, and I won’t ever forget that.

But after time, I became weary, and I could no longer be the person you wanted me to be.  I had hoped you wouldn’t take it personally, because I truly think you’re a great company.  And I know that there are plenty of engineers out there who would be lucky to have you.

But ever since our break up, you have gone to seemingly great lengths to punish me, over and over again, even as I continue to support you and fight for you in every way that I can.

You must know that back in 1995, I used part of my very first paycheck to buy Microsoft Money 95 from the company store.  I was so excited.  I put all of my personal finances into your trusting hands, and told all my friends and family about how great you were.

For 14 years, I used Microsoft Money fanatically, entering in every single receipt, all the way down to the 50 cents I would occasionally (okay, frequently) spend on a candy bar from the cafeteria vending machine.  And then you killed it.  You told me to go to Intuit instead.  Why would you just discard me like this?

You also know that I was your biggest fan when you announced Silverlight, and that I spent six months learning it inside and out, and building some gorgeous web apps.  This was the one.  This was the rich web application platform that would last forever.  You told me, you promised me, this was the Flash killer and the HTML5 killer.  And I told everybody I knew.  You shipped a new version every six months.

I convinced one of my clients to let me build his website using Silverlight because it was SO much better than Flash.  He agreed against his own instincts because he trusted me.  And then, silence.  No new versions.  No plans for the future.  You wouldn’t answer our questions.  You wouldn’t say anything.  Why did you give up, when we believed in you?

In 2007, after saving up for a year, I spent $4,500 on a brand new Windows Media Center PC for our family room.  My photos, my videos, my music, Netflix streaming, Blu-ray DVD playback in full 1080p and full surround sound, and dual TV tuners so we could record one channel while watching another.  All rolled into one blazingly fast box, with a stunningly beautiful, intuitive, and fluid user interface, and a single remote to control it all.  I was in heaven.

Sure, there were some hiccups and more than a few gripes from my wife, but I stood by your side.  I defended you fervently every single time, explaining how this was the future of television and that there was no comparable entertainment system on the planet.  And then, you went dark.  Nothing new for Windows 8.  No integration with Hulu.  Or Rhapsody.  Or Pandora.  Or Amazon Instant Video.  No innovations. Zero. In three years.  I suspect that WMC is being taken hostage from the inside, but there’s nothing I can do to help.  I’m begging you, at least say something, or give me a sign.  I need to get some closure on this painful and expensive chapter of my life, before I go out and buy a Google or Apple device.

The Zune HD was a solid piece of hardware, but too late to make a dent in the iPod’s market share.

I bought my wife a Zune for her birthday – not the V1 brick-like device, but the tiny cute one that came later.  Beautiful product, and you deserve congratulations on the hardware design.  And the connecting software for the PC … so much better than iTunes.  But you gave up and now Zune is in the graveyard, may it rest in peace.  Meanwhile, I feel like a sucker … again.

I, along with many of my school and PTA customers, fell in love with FrontPage, and we used it exclusively for building all sorts of static websites that didn’t require any programming.  So easy to use.  So perfect for our simple needs.  But you threw it under the bus for no apparent reason.  Was it too successful?

Fortunately, you made a replacement — Microsoft Expression Web — but forgot to tell people about it.  It too was another fantastic product, and once I stumbled upon it, I used it extensively for 5 years to help me design the HTML for our regular school newsletter before posting it to the website.

But alas, Expression Web also received the death sentence a short while ago, leaving us with no options, since I’m unwilling to shell out $399 for Adobe Dreamweaver.  Why do you hate me so much?  I know that your official position is that Visual Studio 2012 is the replacement for Expression Web, but come on … we both know that VS 2012 has nowhere near the HTML design and editing capabilities of Expression Web.  I might as well be using Notepad.

Microsoft Digital Image Suite was the best image editing package ever to have existed for consumers.  Yes, better than Photoshop Elements.  It was easy to learn and powerful at the same time.  The user experience was delightful.  I want you to know that you truly broke my heart when you buried this product.

You tried to console me by telling me that all of its features had been integrated into Windows Photo Gallery, but you lied … straight to my face.  Not even 20 percent of the functionality of Digital Image Suite has lived on in any of your current or future products.  It’s beyond my comprehension how it’s a good thing not to have a decent image editor in your portfolio of products.  You know that every Mac comes with iPhoto out of the box, right?  Don’t you care?

Expression Design was the only vector graphics design software I ever used, because it was love at first sight for me, and I knew we would be together forever.  You created a solid, well built, feature rich product that was so intuitive and free from any steep learning curves.

With Expression Design, as an amateur, I could design any icon or illustration faster than many experts using Adobe Illustrator.  All of my assets for OurSchoolPages.com were built in Expression Design. There are several hundred —including icons, buttons, dialog boxes, borders for boxes, and marketing material consisting of banners, brochures, and signs.  All useless now.

When you took Expression Design away from me, you effectively threw away nearly a thousand hours of my time.  If this was the deliberate manner in which you chose to exact your revenge on me, then well played my old friend, well played.

Microsoft, I feel like I’ve more than paid the price for any transgressions I may have committed in the past.  Don’t you think I’ve been punished enough?

While I don’t foresee us getting back together any time soon, I really would like to continue being friends.  Is there any way you’d allow that to happen?  Please?  Call me.

—Rajeev Goel

Rajeev Goel is the founder of Our School Pages, a service that offers customizable website solutions for schools and PTAs. He worked at Microsoft from 1995 to 2008.

Comments

  • LoveMicrosoftStyle

    Dear Rajeev,

    Oh I do remember all those long nights we spent together over the years. Sharing times and experiences. It was wonderful.

    But you know, I’m like the wind baby, no one gets me: I’ve got to be free to be who I am and not be tied down with commitments. And that means that I’ve got to change when I feel like I need to.

    I know it’s hard: we both poured a lot into Zune and I loved Zune. But you know, the brown that looked so cool at first: it got old. So, I had to drop it.

    And KIN: talk about a flash in the pan. I thought that was the coolest thing ever but after 6 weeks I knew I’d made a mistake.

    I know it’s hard to understand sometimes but it is just who I am. If you truly love me, you’ll love me for who I really am: warts and all.

    It was so good to hear from you Rajeev. I miss you too.

    I’m off with Windows RT now: it’s really, really cool. I think this could be it for real this time.

    Love always,

    Microsoft

    • Guest

      I always stayed the heck away from chicks like this, love junkies with a borderline personality disorder. “I think this could be it for real this time”, yeah, this time everything will be different.

  • Patrick

    Wow, great write up.

    Microsoft USED to be the consumer software company. Even if that software only did $10 million a year, they were in that business. Then someone said, “unless that business is more than $100 million, we are not interested.” Now I think it has to be a billion dollar business.

    That person was wrong.

    I too used Money since 3.0. Crazy, but love it. I was pissed it was discontinued but I guess it had to with all the ads in the later versions. Zune, yep, did that. Microsoft Baseball, Motocross Madness, the list goes on.

    But Street and Trips is still alive. How funny is that!? How did that happen?

    Microsoft needs to embrace software businesses that might only be $10m or $25m. Those solutions will incubate ideas and sharing of IP throughout the company that will stimulate more ideas.

    People love Software. To explore software and try new things. We want to be hooked on software.

    We need that again MSFT.

  • Forrest Corbett

    This is why I quit deploying MS products a long time ago, unless there was major business case for it and/or it was a product I didn’t think would go away like SQL. It’s also why when I buy into a product or platform, I want an exit strategy.

    You touch on Media Center, which is think is still an absolutely great product. You mention its current problems clearly, and sadly they wouldn’t be that difficult to solve. If MS updated Media Center with those fixes, let me use a Surface and/or Windows Phone as a remote, I would literally go buy a Surface and/or Windows Phone today.

    No one has a solid hook on that full spectrum yet. Apple and Google are close. Amazon is catching up. Microsoft is probably the closest, but not even attempting to make it happen.

    • http://www.jeffkibuule.com Jeff Kibuule

      The reason Media Center never too off is because no one wanted a PC in their living room (or to be more accurate, none of Microsoft’s PC OEM partners ever really built Media Center PCs that looked good in a living room). They have learned the hard way that if you really want to push something mainstream, it needs to be a turn-key solution much like the Xbox where it’s plug in and play.

      So I expect the next Xbox to adopt a lot of those Media Center-like features like recording and watching live TV.

      • Forrest Corbett

        If they add tuners to an XBOX, I might give that a try. Right now the rumors I hear don’t include tuners/DVR. My HTPC looks pretty sweet, IMHO. I’ve got it stacked on top of my receiver (the HTPC case is the same width.) Looks a lot better than a receiver, tuner, DVR, xbox, blu-ray player… all stacked, and is certainly more “turn-key” than connecting all of those, dealing with different UI styles…

    • anon

      You can use your surface or windows phone as a remote, even when using an XBOX as an extender. I use My Media Center (by Ceton) on both windows phone and windows 8 with my Ceton cablecard tuner and it works great. Doesn’t have the capability to view recordings or live but hopefully that comes soon. I hope you enjoy your new purchases!

      • Forrest Corbett

        I thought Smart Glass didn’t work with Media Center? Just as a basic remote isn’t exactly what I want… I can already do that with my android phone. Plus, I did say “If MS updated Media Center with those fixes”, so I’m not pulling the trigger just yet.

        • anon

          Smart glass doesn’t work with it. My Media Center by Ceton does. It’s not a basic remote, you can manage most everything, just need to be on same network as your media center PC. http://cetoncorp.com/products/companion/.

          Not sure what fixes you are referring to that would block adoption, I’ve had no issues with it and WAF is high on it, much better than Comcast STB’s.

    • madone_99301

      If SQL goes away I’m going to have to go back to waiting tables.

  • http://www.atebymonsters.com Matt

    Regarding Windows Media Center … I believe the reason why it wasn’t touched with Windows 8 probably is tied to what might be coming in the next Xbox. You saw Microsoft bringing in parts of WMC into the Xbox 360. I would be shocked if that next console didn’t take that product over. The consumer message is very clear, they don’t want a PC attached to their television. So moving WMC to the Xbox makes the most sense.

    I’m really hoping they provide a cable card slot and tuner for DVR functionality. It’s the missing link in my mind.

    Great post, but true on every level.

    • http://www.jeffkibuule.com Jeff Kibuule

      More likely, I think we’ll see a separate box with a CableCard slot which connects to your network that lets you watch TV on both the next Xbox and a Windows 8 app. Having a separate box means it can be different in every territory (since CableCard is strictly a US thing).

      • fourthletter

        Will never happen – broadcast TV is dying faster every day.

  • Dan

    But here’s my number, so call me maybe.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

    $4500 for an HTPC? Wow that’s troubling, I built mine for $100.00 and it’s lasted six years, still going strong.

    Zune in the graveyard? It’s alive and well, although rebranded. Your Zune device is still fully functional in every respect, as are all of mine. Sure, the whole market is transitioning away from dedicated music players but that shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying what they already have.

  • Raz Simone

    Flight Simulator was another beloved product that was canned. But simulators are still available on Steam from developers who don’t have to carry MSFT’s overhead of PMs, SDETs, LCA, etc.

  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    This posting is interesting (and fun). Not only does it point out the point that sometimes buying a product is a leap of faith that can land you smack on your face, but it also highlights how the portfolio of products has dwindled over the years. I remember going to the company store when I first joined right around 2000 and getting Age of Empires and Money. You had Windows and Office too. But also a host of smaller, good quality products.

    In reading this, I realize that’s something that Microsoft lost through the mid/late 2000’s.

    • Patrick

      You are correct, going into the employee store now to look at software is kind of depressing…. Nothing fun. Even the xbox games are the same old tired ones…

      How can you be the worlds largest software company and produce so little new titles???

      Hang onto the bread and butter of Windows and Office. Hope and pray for 1 new feature that will get people to upgrade… I would say those days are numbered…

      Office 2013 just gave us a white washed background… not enough for an upgrade…

  • http://twitter.com/hroulo H.E. Roulo

    Great post. It’s like seeing a message to a friend and realizing that someone else is feeling what I’m feeling. Money, Frontpage, Zune, and Media Center have all been products I advocated. I’ll never give up my Zune. Never!

    In light of this article, I’m afraid to admit how much I love my Surface.

  • Fred

    I loved FoxPro –worked great but apparently was sacrificed to support Access, which was a dog which also was killed. I bought and tried to make work numerous “Plays for Sure” MP3 players — trying to stay away from the Apple juggernaut because I was a true believer, but when all my licensed music failed to synch and ultimately expired, I gave up and invested in building a huge Zune library until that was also given a quiet death. So I finally bought an Apple and just rebuilt my library from scratch.

    i put my data onto Live Mesh until it was killed in favor of Skydrive, which then limits me to 25Gb so I finally went to Dropbox.

    Netmeeting actually worked painlessly and simply. I used ILS3 if you remember that one. Then it was killed in favor of live meeting, which now I guess is dead too in favor of MSN messenger or office communicator which I think is getting killed for skype or whatever.

    I carried around the PocketPC long before anyone even thought of an iPad, and tried to make it work through various versions, until all that was just cancelled outright. Same story for my intensive attempt to embrace the TabletPC.

    I bought a family member a Kin. Her co-workers laughed when it was cancelled weeks later.

    I stuck with IE even when my friends questioned my sanity –through slowness, crashes and incompatibilities –until IE10 was finally released and then ok, a day zero, unpatchable java exploit finally drove me to Chrome.

    Microsoft, you have lost me…and I feel like the last fanboy to jump off the ship. Where is your passion for excellence? Where is your heart to support your fan base? When you have a product in a category, why not make it better and better and insulate the users from the disjointed whiplash of corporate politics and dead-end technical implementations underneath?

    • Jon Poland

      I certainly have my issues with MS, but to my knowledge Access still lives.

    • anon

      And to the best of my knowledge you can have up to 125GB on skydrive.

    • fourthletter

      You moved from a service with 25GB for free to a service with 2GB for free ????

  • http://www.joshuamaher.com/ Joshua Maher

    One day, you’ll realize that it isn’t just some mates that do this… it is all mates that leave you high and dry when it comes to some of your favorite things. The cherished tape drives, the beloved 5.25 floppy, the erotic look of the Apple IIe, and of course the lovely song the modem sang. The good thing is that if they didn’t we’d never move on to better things.
    I for one am really happy that we aren’t reading and commenting about this story on a bbs from bedrooms in our parent’s house – but maybe that is just me….

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

      Precisely.

    • Wakerunner

      The cherished tape drives??? the beloved 5.25 floppy??? the erotic look of
      the Apple IIe (don’t know what they looked like), and of course the lovely song the modem sang ??? You actually liked this stuff and thought they were better than their replacements???

      How do these things that were replaced by better products compare to successful and good products that MS has just dropped for no good reason and with no replacement, the things he is talking about in this article? … It doesn’t.

  • Pradeep Chauhan

    Great article Rajeev. You didn’t invest in the pocketpc and the original smartphone!

  • http://www.timacheson.com/ Tim Acheson

    What a classic example of anti-Microsoft propaganda. A lengthy diatribe, based on seriously flawed arguments.

    • ByeByeSoul

      No, no it’s not.

      Your comments generally are annoying but this time you’ve moved into insulting. It’s insulting to the author and intellectually insulting to all of us because it’s so blatantly untrue.

      First, there’s not a SINGLE data point that’s wrong in this article. EVERY product he’s mentioned has been ingloriously abandoned by Microsoft. If anything, this listing is incomplete because there’s plenty more you can add.

      Second, the entire point of the article is that the author WANTS to like Microsoft but that the repeated abandoning of good (and expensive) products make that nearly impossible. This isn’t anti-Microsoft propaganda, it’s a well-intentioned cry for help/intervention to stop harmful behavior. And by the way good advice if someone sensible there would listen.

      So this is neither anti-Microsoft propaganda nor is it based on seriously flawed arguments.

      What I have found to be propaganda are your comments. But generally I pay them the attention they’re worth and ignore them. But this time you’re not stretching truth, you’re fabricating reality outright. And since this is a new author who bravely went out with his feelings in a well written article that was heartfelt and most of all reasoned and accurate I’m not going to let your comment stand without answer.

      Rajeev: congratulations on a good article. So well done that one of the chief members of Frank Shaw’s Goon Squad here on Geekwire felt the need to attack you over it (and you gave them so little to use that all he could do was $*!t on it.

      • http://www.timacheson.com/ Tim Acheson

        “insulting to all of us because it’s so blatantly untrue”

        Let’s see.

        Please list all points which you believe to be untrue.

        • ByeByeSoul

          I already explained why everything you said is untrue.

          It’s not “propaganda” (let alone “classic anti-Microsoft propaganda”). The author went out of his way to make a reasoned, impassioned plea for things to be better.

          It’s also not based on “based on seriously flawed arguments”. Every data point cited is factually accurate (and numerous other supporting facts showing abandoned products could be mustered).

          Your comment makes two main points, both of which I have (again) shown to be entirely bogus.

          Even if I disagreed with this author there’s no way I could agree with what you’ve said. It’s just false.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

        ingloriously abandoned? I’m enjoying my Zunepass at this very moment. My HTPC serves no less than 6 hd screens in my house and does a fantastic job. Even my Sidewinder FF PRO, “abandoned” (discontinued) by MS ten years ago, is a fabulous piece of hardware that works as well today as it did in the nineties.

        The idea that everything ever needs to be maintained and upgraded to be useful is preposterous. My 2004 Toyota Matrix was “ingloriously abandoned” when they came out with the 2005. There is no way for me to get the 2005 features in my 2004 model.

    • fourthletter

      I find backing your argument up with any actual facts are helpful.

  • chris livermore

    Great writeup! This perfectly frames Microsofts biggest problem, it treats the users and consumers of its products like shit! Apple does the exact opposite and takes the consumer experience to a scary stalker level but the people have spoken, they want technology that works and that will still be working in 5 years.

  • http://twitter.com/ArcComputer david prokop

    Why didn’t microsoft spin the products off as new companies? like expedia? several of these products were and are still great and could be a fantastic “smaller” business. Ofcourse alot of them would take years to slowly die, but at least the ‘bonded’ users would not get cut off at the knees, by a product stop.. why? oh why?

  • JamesS2012

    I agree with this letter 100% and have felt this way towards MS and their products for years. Kudos to the author for putting into words what many customers have felt.

    As the owner of a website development firm, I’ve invested several thousands dollars, many thousands of hours, countless books purchased, over many years, on products like Expression Studio, Visual Studio, Silverlight, their various graphics programs, and other countless software and hardware products. And in recent years, I’ve just become frustrated with the way MS will toss away superb products (not VS) that we invest so much time/money learning to use and utilize to even run our businesses and build products for clients.

    As it stands now, whenever MS ramps up the PR machine and proclaims their next and newest big thing that will be a game changer that will be around for a long time…I simply don’t trust them anymore. I’ve blown far too much time & money investing in their products, then see them get flushed without warning for head-scratching reasons (the latest examples being Expression Studio and Silverlight).

    Again…without warning! MS just goes silent for months…then all of a sudden, one accidentally learns a product is discontinued…WTH? MS doesn’t even have the common courtesy to send an email announcement to their customers of discontinued products that we’ve invested into so much?

    As a business owner, I’ve always preferred MS software because there was a time you could count on their commitment to product longevity and quality and trust that your investment of time & money was well placed. But now that trust is gone like the wind. I’ll continue to use MS products if I decide I can be profitable with them, but the shaky trust in product longevity that they’ve fostered will have me looking at competitor products, such as Adobe, before I decide to make the investment.

  • MC

    And what about VB6 ?!?…

  • Robert29632

    You’re married to your technology choices, and for a big enterprise Microsoft’s technology stack seems pretty unreliable over the long term.https://robertmccarter.com/microsoft-net-technologies-are-unreliable/

  • John

    So you put all your apples into products that Microsoft didn’t prioritize and most people saw weren’t going to last. Sounds to me like your judgment in being able to choose which products from which company to use is seriously flawed. You built a site in Silverlight?? Why would you do that? I love MS, but your choice of products was ridiculous.

  • TMan

    Love it, MS has spent the last few years trying to ell everybody what to do – it make no difference if things work or if people like things that are available…they just shove things down peoples throats Hotmail to Outlook, the online small business to a pay Office 365 (which still has problems (and that’s after numerous changes) and they just continue to make make additional changes people don’t like or want (of course all for the $$s)….it’s the biggest reason they continue to lose customers to Google, etc…and let’s not forget Win8 (tee hee, ha ha)

  • herbys

    Good that you didn’t go with Apple, or you would be complaining about them dropping the Newton, the 68K platform (and then POWER) and the Lisa.

  • deadhead

    dude, maybe it’s really time for you to embrace some open standard in your life to avoid or mitigate those sentimental breakups. As life as shown you no BigCorporation last forever and has plans reliable for the so long term, so do yourself a favour, rely on some technology/product/format that you can use in the future, also if the vendor fail, and AVOID monoculture. The idea that your big good father will take care of all your needs is quite irrealistic and the opposite of the safe and reasonable side.
    Putting your trust in a company that has a long horror story about compatibility and standardization of formats is an suicide act.

    Learn and use OpenSourceSoftware on Windows, or at least use sw that saves in true Open Standard formats (no opendocument produced by Office are not what I mean).

    You’ll see your life will be way much better

  • BrightInsight

    We’ve all suffered losses from discontinued products – there are a number of MS
    products that I wish were still around. Additionally, I think MS’s approach to
    product rebranding (example above was with FrontPage, aka SharePoint Designer and Expression Web) and product roadmaps are horrific. I recommend products to clients and have been left in situations where I couldn’t ethically recommend a MS product because MS themselves don’t know what they have (just take a look at their history of corporate anti-virus products).

    Aside from that negativity, I do suggest we all keep two things in mind:

    1) Microsoft isn’t the only company that does this (Google has its own annual
    product slaying process with numerous products landing in the graveyard despite having a following that most other companies would consider to be successful)

    2) It is a choice that unfortunately has to be made. When you change jobs or get
    promoted and now get paid $30/hr to do something, do you still want to do work
    that makes only $10/hr? I don’t think so. Businesses are no different. If they
    can focus their resources on products that are able to generate more revenue
    and more success to the company then they’re going to do it. What I wish they
    would consider doing is to setup a spin-off company (a “Micro”
    version of Microsoft, possibly named something really catchy like
    MicroMicrosoft (!), and allow that smaller company purchase and manage the
    assets of these lower networth products. Or allow 3rd parties to buy the
    asset.

  • fourthletter

    What kind of idiot would trust Microsoft ? Never heard the old saying “fool me a third time shame on ME” How many pointers did you need ?

Job Listings on GeekWork