Surface preorder debacle: Sinofsky steps up

Microsoft has failed to deliver all of the preordered Surfaces by the revised promised date of 30th October. But that's OK, Sinofsky is here to help...
Written by Matt Baxter-Reynolds, Contributor
Sinofsky hugs his Surface with Windows RT
"It's mine, you can't have one...!"
I jest - in this screen capture from the Surface launch last
week, Sinofsky is giving his Surface a lovely big hug. Awww!

You know those situations where customer service is going badly? You're being passed from pillar to post without making progress and all you really want is the boss to step in and make everything OK.

Read more on the Surface preorder debacle -- Surface preorder failures: too many cooks, and Where is my Windows Surface? Here's what we know.

Enter Steven Sinosfky, who last night reached out via Twitter to some frustrated Surface customers inviting then to send over order numbers so that he could look into the problem.


(I should say, I'm referenced in that tweet. I'm one of the ones who remains tragically un-Surfaced.)

And sure enough, he did.


The person he's tasked? That would be David Porter. He joined the company in February 2009, and it's his job to make Microsoft's retail efforts really zing. It's not a good week to be running a tech giant's retail operations is it, as the departure of Apple's retail tsar John Browett shows us. It turns out that actually conveying products from factory floor to customers hands is much more difficult than it would first appear.

So what happens now? Perhaps nothing new. The problem that's going on with (particularly) international preorders is that the only customer service team you can reach is an outsourced operation. They have no more visibility over the supply chain, or ability to change anything than you or I do. The only thing that they can do is placate people in the hope that they sit tight. That's where the frustration is coming from. Your Surface might be on a plane or in a van, or it might not be.

This morning, another message from another of Sinofsky's new Twitter buddies:


Chris mentioned in another tweet that the customerservice email came from a v-*.microsoft.com address. That "v" stands for "vendor", and is Microsoft's convention for non-permanent staff. But that can mean a individual contractor engaged directly by Microsoft, or it could mean one of the outsourcing partners involved in Surface fubar. Who knows.

And the date of the 2nd November? Wait -- that's the same date that Microsoft claimed was a mistake. Was it actually correct all along?


What can you do while you're waiting for your Surface to arrive? You could follow @stevesi on Twitter. It's fascinating stuff.

Perhaps you're wondering how to use your Surface? No problem - @stevesi will tell you.


What happens if you're an MVP who writes a particularly controversial review of Surface? It's OK, @stevesi will share that experience with you:


What about if you're looking for new apps? @stevesi has you covered:


All of this makes me pine for the fact Steve Jobs never joined us all on Twitter. It's much more fun to see a CEO step in and wrangle over a product publicly.

There's no denying that in building a meaningful and engaging public profile through social media, Sinofsky is doing something "statesmanlike". He's presenting himself as the face of Microsoft. And armchair pundits often talk about Sinofsky ultimately stepping in to the CEO role when Ballmer eventually moves on.

Of course, that depends on whether Windows 8 is the next Microsoft Bob or not.

Update: David Porter and his team now seem to be engaging fully to sort any issues out with pre-orders. If you are one of those who placed their order between 16th October and 19th October and are still experiencing problems going through Microsoft's customer services, please use the Contact link below and I will refer your details directly to his team.

What do you think? Post a comment, or talk to me on Twitter: @mbrit.

Editorial standards