Commentary: Coursey's Top Microsoft gripes

Everyone has things they don't like about Microsoft, both the company and its products and services. Many of the things I don't like about Microsoft get right to the heart of what it means to be Microsoft.

Everyone has things they don't like about Microsoft, both the company and its products and services.

COMMENTARY--These include things like crashy operating systems, useless upgrades, support that is expensive or impossible to find, the plethora of features we're forced to buy but don't use, the company's general inability to play well with others--those sorts of things.

Today and tomorrow I'm going to run through my list of Top Microsoft Gripes and invite your suggestions for expanding it. But before I get knee-deep in this muck, there's something I've noticed: Many of the things I don't like about Microsoft get right to the heart of what it means to be Microsoft. I'm not talking about transitory stuff, but the core of Microsoft's being--which is to say I am not holding my breath for changes.

On the other hand, some of my gripes involve fixes that could be made, and some are even things I believe Microsoft is working on fixing, or that Windows XP/Office XP will make a little less troublesome.

So, in the spirit of the love/hate relationship many of us have with the world's most important software company, I present:

David Coursey's Top Microsoft Gripes, Part One
I am tired of software that doesn't work very well. Specifically, I am tired of Windows crashes and the version of ActiveSync that requires me to restart my iPaq if I want to sync it to my desktop.

Constant "critical updates" for security fixes bug me. Not because Microsoft sends them, but because they are necessary so often. If Internet Explorer can't be made secure, how is something like .Net going to succeed?

It bothers me that I have been giving Norton or McAfee money all these years to provide decent versions of utilities that ought to come free with the operating system. If Microsoft can't stop viruses, why can't it at least give me software to prevent them?

It bugs me that the longer I use a machine--installing and attempting to uninstall applications that I am testing along the way--the more unstable it becomes. Eventually I have to start from scratch. And that means trying to reinstall Windows, which doesn't really reinstall Windows, so sometimes I wipe the hard drive and start from scratch. I hate doing that.

I truly hate the system registry. Why isn't it possible to move an application from one drive to another or even one machine to another just by moving the application? I shouldn't have to do a full reinstall for this.

I am sick of paying for features and whole applications I never use. Why can't Microsoft give us a list of desktop apps and let us pick and choose and get a discount based on buying the ones we want, not what Microsoft wants to bundle? Hot news: I don't use Access and don't like buying it as part of any bundle just to get something else I want.

Speaking of which, I am pained that Microsoft doesn't have a simple-to-use database application, like FileMaker or the online QuickBase service from Quicken. Yes, I know people use Excel as a database, but I don't want to, and Access is more work than it's worth for casual use.

Why doesn't Outlook make it easy to sort for duplicate or near-duplicate contact entries and offer to merge or delete them for me? Perhaps even standardize the addresses so they are in good USPS formats, complete with 9-digit ZIP codes? Outlook doesn't do a very good job of managing data.

Please make some sort of peace with Real so everyone can read everyone else's media formats. Writing them would be nice, too, but I am sure that's out of the question.

I don't ever call Microsoft support because I don't think it will do me any good, and I don't want to pay money for support of things that shouldn't be broken to begin with. Most of my real problems with Microsoft aren't features I can't find but odd crashes I don't understand.

When I use the Web-based help, I sometimes find it impossible to describe my problem in a way that provides useful assistance. Even entering the number and/or full text of an error message didn't work the last time I tried it.

These are mostly system and applications gripes. I will be back with perhaps a few more of these as well as the broader "what it means to be Microsoft" complaints. In the meantime, share what what bugs you the most about Microsoft in the TalkBack below.