Microsoft hoses user data - <i>mea culpa</i>

Microsoft hoses user data - <i>mea culpa</i>

Summary: Darn! It looks like I screwed up the Microsoft hoses user data - again!

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Darn! It looks like I screwed up the Microsoft hoses user data - again! post. I'm sorry. I hate it when I do that.

While Microsoft did disable a number of early Word and other file formats, it wasn't as long a list as I thought from reading the KB article. While SP3 does block opening a number of file formats, the formats in question are older: all Word pre-6.0; PowerPoint pre-97; Excel 4.0 charts; dBASE II .dbf; Lotus and Quattro files; Corel Draw .cdr.

Textual analysis I take a text-heavy approach to the content on Storage Bits. I prefer to go to original source material, unpack the meaning and the context, and then give my take on it.

That usually works pretty well. But in this case it didn't.

What happened? I read a lot of technical documents. Most never get written about. But the Microsoft knowledge base article was an exception. Since Microsoft was the topic it also got a lot of attention from me and others

There is a lot of emotion around Microsoft. They are a big, powerful, immensely profitable and sometimes clueless corporation whose desktop monopoly is a fact of life for computer users and IT professionals.

I try to stay with the facts as best I can determine them. In this case I got confused by the KB article. That other people made the same mistake is small comfort and no excuse (see a Microsoft's David Leblanc's take here).

Lessons learned Other than resolving to analyze content from Microsoft more carefully, I'm not sure what else I would do differently. I didn't question their motives for the change, only the way it was handled.

However, I do have some suggestions for Microsoft.

  • Reducing functionality on an already purchased product is a problem. You should notify users when you limit product functionality and give them the opportunity to decline the update. Even if it is for their own good.
  • Suggesting that editing the registry or using esoteric admin tools to solve the problem is OK for the tech savvy. But what about my 85 year old neighbor Dorothy, whose computer is a lifeline to her great-grandchildren? Her late husband was an engineer, so she has files that go back quite a few years. Microsoft, you are both an enterprise and a consumer company. Own it.
  • Communication is worth spending money on. Tech writers tell me that Microsoft doesn't pay very well and, as a result, doesn't get very good tech writing. Maybe MCSEs are used to the style, but it sure didn't work for this tech-savvy consumer.

The Storage Bits take Tech is complicated and sometimes people - like I just did - get it wrong. Listening to criticism and learning from mistakes is how we all get better, even Microsoft. I hope you'll keep coming back to Storage Bits and I'll keep doing my level best to make it worth your time.

Comments welcome, as always.

Topics: Collaboration, CXO, Hardware, Microsoft, Software, Storage

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Talkback

21 comments
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  • Kudos for the admission and correction.

    I still think the title(s) were sensationalistic but I admire the way you handled the retraction. I would make the following suggestions to you.

    1) Make the title fit what happened. Don't sensationalize to
    get talkback hints.

    2) For the very reason there is a lot of emotion involving
    Microsoft make sure to double check your facts. There are
    plenty of ABMers spewwing false information that you need
    not feed their delusions.

    3) Listen to the talkbacks when they say you are getting it
    wrong. I believe many people pointed out you were wrong on
    that article.
    ShadeTree
  • Even a minor change to the title

    would have made it every bit as sensational yet keep it more accurate as to what's going on. Like "Microsoft locks out user data" or "Microsoft blocks user data". Your title implies there's something wrong with the data. These titles suggest the data is fine, but the user cannot access it.
    Michael Kelly
    • How about MS hoses ACCESS to user data?? But MS did HOSE things up pretty

      good!!
      DonnieBoy
  • Thank you for

    exhibiting what it means to be:

    1. Accountable for ones actions / statements.
    2. Honorable and stepping up to admit your goof.
    3. Being proactive in setting rules for yourself so you don't do it again. ]:)
    Linux User 147560
  • You have shown a lot of class here

    and your suggestions are good and reasonable.

    Thanks!
    Joeman57
    • Showing a lot of class? Hardly.

      That's like saying the convict is showing a lot of class by apologizing at their
      sentencing hearing. His error was so egregious that he had no choice but to
      acknowledge his mistake so he could salvage some form of credibility. He's lost it all
      with me, that's for sure.
      ye
      • Come on, MS still hosed everybody with no warning. MS was forced to restore

        access and apologize.
        DonnieBoy
        • Don't act dumb DB<NT>

          <NT>
          Joeman57
          • Unfortunately I don't think he's acting. (nt)

            .
            ye
        • Irrelevant.

          Robins behavior on this matter is unreleated to Microsoft's. Robin was told repeatedly his list was wrong. He grossly mischaracterized the problem in his title (and attempted to justify it later in an update). This demonstrates a complete lack of professionalism on his part. To say he's got class is just plain foolish.
          ye
          • True

            However, how many bloggers would fess up?
            Joeman57
  • Thanks for the correction

    This post was much more reasonable (not to mention factual) than the original.

    I'm just surprised that this correction was so long in coming, especially after the mistake was pointed out early on by so many of us in the talkbacks.
    meschwartz@...
  • Sorry, but your apology is empty and your excuses are worthless

    You seem to have a deep hatred of anything Microsoft by the tone of your articles and this is yet another good reason not to bother reading your trollbait.

    This, coming from the man who would have us all believe that ZFS is an Apple innovation / technology etc...

    This is an excerpt from your next blog:
    [i]"[b]The Storage Bits take[/b]
    One of the major reasons I like ZFS on OS X is that it brings competition to the file system arena. And as we all know, Microsoft won&#8217;t do diddly about the aging NTFS unless they have competition (see How Microsoft puts your data at risk)."[/i]

    Enough said I think...
    Scrat
    • Come on, he corrected the errors. AND, NTFS is pretty shabby compared to

      the competition.
      DonnieBoy
      • Which competition

        please present your data and its supports. Thanks.
        Boot_Agnostic
    • What is your point?

      MS acknowledged the mistake, so what's your point? Do you really think a company like MS does that for nothing? Or do you think that MS hoses a little less data, because the formats where 10+ years old? If so, what about archived data - do I need to edit them with freeware? (please forget that talk about readers - this is unjustifiable).

      Come on - unreliable DATA? Or it would unreliable apps the correct? NTFS is old, insecure, and slow - what's more? Yes, we have Vista too, and again MS tries to push the thing to users. We need more people talking about those things, and alerting the consumers in general - maybe MS hears and come too, to the 21 century.
      green alien
      • Question

        [i]If so, what about archived data - do I need to edit them with freeware?[/i]


        If it's been archived, why would you need to edit it?

        Just out of curiosity, but generally archived data is so because it is old and no longer in frequent use. In many cases, editing archived data is illegal. If you weren't done with the data, why would you archive it in the first place? If you were in the practice of still using it, what are the chances that it wasn't updated to the most recent program?

        Not trying to bait you here, just curious about that line, because it didn't make sense to me, personally. Certainly they aren't the only company who has ceased support of a decade-old file type. Has it been a major issue with anyone else? If not, then why would it be assumed that it will be this time? Moreoever, if it's never happened with another company, why the instant assumption that all kinds of people will be affected. What are the real odds on that, actually? Simply because it's Microsoft? That seems a bit unfair to me.
        laura.b
        • ^^Ignore duplicate

          Thanks ZDNet. Not the first time this has happened. First post doesn't post, attempt at reposting just jarrs the first one into existence....grr...


          Same post below, only slightly different.
          laura.b
      • Question

        [i]If so, what about archived data - do I need to edit them with freeware?[/i]


        If it's been archived, why would you need to edit it?

        Just out of curiosity, but generally archived data is so because it is old and no longer in frequent use. In many cases, editing archived data is illegal. If you weren't done with the data, why would you archive it in the first place? If you were in the practice of still using it, what are the chances that it wasn't updated to the most recent program?

        Not trying to bait you here, just curious about that line, because it didn't make sense to me, personally. Certainly they aren't the only company who has ceased support of a decade-old file type. Has it been a major issue with anyone else? If not, then why would it be assumed that it will be this time? Moreoever, if it's never happened with another company, why the instant assumption that all kinds of people will be affected? Simply because it's Microsoft? That seems a bit unfair to me.
        laura.b
        • edit archived data

          First, the only way to get to a lot of archived data is with the utility/app that you used to create it in the first place, even just to view or print it.

          Second:
          "In many cases, editing archived data is illegal. If you weren't done with the data, why would you archive it in the first place?"

          I archive data all the time, even if I am not done with it. Generally, at a very minimum, to make sure I have a clean copy.

          Another way I archive data is to use a code version control (RCS/PVCS/etc) on a daily basis, which I then archive. Even if I am not done with the code. I cannot tell you the number of times it has saved my butt, but that is what backups are for.

          Third, nothing the poster said indicates that he wants to *change history*. I try not to duplicate work, so I have a set of stuff (text in files) that I *make a copy of*, then change the *copy* for whatever my new purpose is. For example, I have code that I want to re-use, but will take a bit of editing. I *really* do not want to change the original - it is archived for a reason.

          Some of my files are plain ASCII text, edited with vi. A few are M$ .docs, because I need the pretty look. Most of these are proposals, where 80% is going to be the same from the others.

          I am also *not* an early adopter. Why do you think I still use 'vi'? I have a Word 2003 that I see no real reason to change from - it does what I need it to do, and M$ will pry it out of my cold, dead fingers if I have anything to say about it. If I need to goto OO (Open Office), I will.

          I have to say that I *really* hate needing to pay Uncle Billy one dime. The reality is that many/most of the tools that I use for work (I am an independent embedded developer) run on XP - which I will use until M$ pries it out of my cold, dead fingers, or I have no other choice. At that point I can probably use Linux (which I prefer, being an old Unix type).
          mr_bandit