What’s your experience with Microsoft tech support?

Tags:
configuration
Desktop security
patching
PEN testing
Platform Security
Security
vulnerability management
Windows
Windows 2000 desktop
Windows 2000 Server
Windows 95/98
Windows client administration and maintenance
Windows Server 2003
Windows tools/WSRM
Windows XP
I'm doing some research on the effectiveness of Microsoft's technical support, possibly for an article on SearchWindowsSecurity.com. Our site readers continually need help troubleshooting Windows security dilemmas. Some seem to find what they need on Microsoft's Web pages, and others don't get enough technical detail (i.e. steps for fixing a specific problem). Do you have an experience you'd like to share -- good or bad? What can Microsoft do better, if anything? What do you like the best or worst about its tech support? Where do you go for help if Microsoft can't help? Is Microsoft better at solving some Windows problems more than others? Also, what type of problems do you typically use Microsoft tech support to solve? Thanks for your time. Best regards, Robyn Lorusso Editor SearchWindowsSecurity.com http://searchwindowssecurity.techtarget.com/

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Personal biased opinion here. I find Microsoft technet abismal at best. 90% of the problem solutions I need come from other sources, namely Oracle Metalink, HP, or others. If you can find the “right” solution on technet you still need someone to explain it to you. Recently I’ve been having a problem with an HP printer on Windows. They referenced two solution pages as possible fixes to the problem, we’ve been going back & forth for a week now on what should really be done & some of the actions recommended by HP are in direct conflict with what Microsfot published. Problem is that HP is making proogress on the problem in spite of Microsoft. We’ve at least gotten the printer installed. Now to get Works to use it.

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  • MisterX83
    Sometimes I find what I want, but usually it takes a lot of digging around. Most recently I looked for information on Alternate Data Streams because of a trojan infection. There wasn't any article on the site that discussed the technology! Just a few references in passing about how it's used for a specific application. No info on how to find an ADS hiding in a file. Had to do a Google search and start reading up on it.
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  • JamesLambert
    Oh, you are opening a can of worms with this question! Ha First, I have only ever used on-line support (TechNet, Knowledge Base, etc). We do not have a support agreement with M$ and I just can't see spending the per incedent price when I have eventually found the solution somewhere. It may take longer, but I have found that I really understand the solution and problem better if I do it myself. As far as their on-line support, I agree with one of the prevous posts. "Most of the time" I can not find what I need from the M$ site. I have really given up even starting there and just normally Google first. M$ did come out with a list of key words to help with searching, but what the heck, those are cryptic and I can never remember them! Why can they not have a search engine that works? Google comes up with better results from the M$ site than its own! Another thing that is really frustrating is trying to find information for products that are not the current release (i.e. W2K). Most of the time I have been directed to W2K3 or XP articles even when I specify 2000. I am still supporting W2K and more than likely will be through next year even so I have had to find (and successfully have found) information elsewhere.
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  • Csmmis
    Like JamesLambert, I have only used on-line support (TechNet, Knowledge Base, etc). We do not have a support agreement with M$ and can't see spending the per incident price. If they know how to fix it, it's probably in their knowledge base somewhere, although it can take some real digging to find. I'd say I find answers more often than not, but sometimes all I find is confirmation that the problem I'm experiencing exists, and other times, nothing "on point" at all. The knowledge base is huge, and in spite of the cumbersome searching, I am glad to have access to it. Some answers are better than none.
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  • AndyInOz
    PERSONAL VIEWPOINT I reckon MS Premier Support Service (PSS) with follow the sun is damn good. As an example, I've been here in Australia @ 2AM local on phone with MS PSS Nth Carolina, the guys there new there stuff and got us sorted. PSS has been pretty damn good for the all the calls we've made over the years (mind you, at my place we tend to line on the bleeding edge) and have provided solutions, fixes etc not generally available. Also we have a Technical Account Manager (TAM) at MS and these guys will ring in the middle of the night if you've got a long detailed prob your still working through with PSS to see if your happy and to check how things are going and also they have the ability to escalate issue further if required.
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  • Saelwell
    You'll get some interesting replies to this question! I have generally had extremely good telephone support from Microsoft. Two examples, both free under the 90-day and/or bug rule: 1. Complex Access database question. After listening patiently(!) to a long description, he asked me to send an email explaining the issue, with a copy of the database. Received a reply within a reasonable time identifying the bug and providing a workaround (that worked!). 2. Installation failure of custom Access database on multiple machines, with different failure symptoms. Fairly rapidly identified the problems on several of the machines, but could not identify exactly what was causing the problems on another. He telephoned back several times during the course of a couple of weeks, either with attempts to resolve it or just to follow up. Eventually we both agreed that the only way to resolve it would be to wipe the laptop in question and start again, which the user was unwilling to do. He then said this would not count as a resolved issue and if I wanted to re-open it in the future, there would be no charge. The question of software quality apart, the customer support in this case was excellent even though we could not resolve the issue.
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  • PeterMac
    No real experience of anything other than the self help. Can be very useful for current products, but as some others have mentioned finding information on older products is almost impossible. The information is there, but the Microsoft search engine won't find it. Better to use google, or some other engine, quite often they will find a Microsoft reference that their own engine can't. On the whole quality of information is good when you find it, and assuming you understand it (not always suitable for average user).
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  • Dasi4jpm
    I recently tried to use their online chat to resolve a problem. At first, I didn't get a reply for over 45 minutes (by which time I had left). I tried again and made contact. I was provided a write up that was supposed to help me resolve the problem. However, the critical choice I was told to take was grayed out. Finally found something myself that resolved the problem. I got absolutely nothing helpful from the support. As this was my first time trying to use it, I don't know if I will try again.
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  • Pedwards17
    My main source of frustration with MS's online tech support is that I am seldom able to find references to their own error codes. I usually do better doing a search on Google for an error code than I do on the Microsoft site. As for specific product support, I have found Exchange and SQL support to be decent in the past, but now that many of the calls are routed to India that isn't the case. This may be politically incorrect, but when I have a production server problem, I really don't want a language barrier standing between me and a solution to my problem and adding to my frustration.
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  • Cssunitke
    Like most of the others ... as an MCSE I predominantly use self-help on-line support (Technet, Google and others). Till recently I found Technet a "fair" source of answers (about 60% success rate) but you have to "think MS speak" to get their search engine to give the right results! With their recent changes to the seach interface, it's become basically 100% USELESS ! I WILL NOT USE IT now as it's a TOTAL waste of my time. GOOGLE always was a good option, but is now definitely THE BEST way to come up with answers. My biggest gripe on MS support is that as an MCSE I have no better recourse to high-level MS technical personnel and knowledge sources than any other individual ... why DID I waste the money becoming an MCSE ?
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  • DSypher
    I have always gotten the great answers to my questions fast when I use Microsofts Partner Support. So I would suggest you all get your company registered as Partners and use partner support. MCSE, MCSA, CompTIA Security+, HP MasterASE
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