Thursday, February 22, 2007

99% Correct


This looks long, but you can get through it quickly....

Recently, we installed Microsoft's Office 2007 suite for our small business. After working with it for awhile, I have to say that I highly recommend it as an upgrade to Office 2003. It takes a little while to get used to the new "ribbon" interface, but it is much better organized than the older version.

Microsoft spent a lot of time and effort to gather information about how their customers actually use the Office software and incorporated that knowledge into a superior interface.

That said, let's look at the 1% issue. Here is an example of how they managed to cause a problem while improving their product... and then ignored the problem.

Communication to Microsoft:


First Name: Bruce

Last Name: Hall



O/S: XP Professional

Br: Explorer 7

Country/Region: United States



Outlook Express 6



Ref URL:

O/S: windows nt 5.1

O/S Lang: en-US

Br: mozilla/5.0 (windows; u; windows nt 5.1; en-us; rv: gecko/20061206 firefox/

Br lang: en-us,en;q=0.5



Message: After installing Office 2007, the spellchecker on Outlook Express 6 would no longer work in English... in fact, the English dictionary is not available. We use both Outlook and Outlook Express 6 to keep business emails strictly separated from personal emails.

I've seen that it is a problem associated with the Office 2007 installation, so will you be providing a patch with the automatic updates and when?


Response from Microsoft:

Hello Bruce,

Thank you for contacting Microsoft Online Customer Service.

I understand from your e-mail that the spell checker in Outlook Express 6 do not work in English after the installation of Office 2007. I realize the importance of the issue and look forward to assist you.

As a Customer Service Representative, I can direct you to your support options which include Self-Help Resources and Assisted Support. You may try to resolve the problem on your own using the no-charge self-help resources listed below. However, if you prefer assistance from a Microsoft Support Professional, please choose the Assisted Support option mentioned below.

Self-Help Resources:

You may search the Product Solution Center or the Knowledge Base of self-help articles to resolve your issue using the following link:[p1]

You may also post your issue in the Microsoft newsgroups. For information on how to use the Microsoft newsgroups, please visit the following link:

Assisted Support:

You may work with a Microsoft Support Professional via e-mail, telephone, and for some products, chat to resolve your issue. Depending on how you obtained your software, there may be fees to use the Assisted Support option. Please visit the following link to contact the Outlook Express 6 Support Team:

Please note that if the Microsoft software came from your computer manufacturer, please contact your computer manufacturer directly. Contact information for most major computer manufacturers is available at:

Bruce, if you have additional questions, please write back to us.

Thank you for using Microsoft Products and Services.
My reply to Microsoft's response:

Thanks for your reply.

I was amused, but not necessarily surprised by the response which, in essence was: here are some self-help links where you can get third-party answers.

The problem was identified on the Microsoft site:

The various third-party suggestions included downloading questionable third-party software to altering the registry.

Let’s put this in perspective. Suppose you had a car and took it to the manufacturer's authorized dealer to have the engine replaced (Office 2007). When you drove it home, you discovered that your heater no longer worked, so you called the dealer about it. The dealer then says you can:

1. Check your operators manual for troubleshooting

2. Check online help from customer groups

3. Reinstall part of the old engine that contains a hose necessary for your heater to operate

4. Take your car to the local independent garage to see if they have a fix

I suppose you might wonder about the dealer and the manufacturer.

So when is Microsoft going to have a patch to download and install?


Bruce Hall
The upshot is simple: you can try to fix it yourself or get a questionable "fix" from unknown sources on the Internet, or you can pay Microsoft to help fix a problem they created.

So the conclusion here is that Microsoft is trying and can be trying.


One of my particularly computer-savvy sons wrote the following:
Good analogy, Microsoft support, or the lack thereof, is classically bad. Sorry to hear about the spell check breaking... I just got my copy of Vista and Office 2007 in the mail yesterday and had a nightmare of a time trying to install it. Apparently you can't upgrade from the beta and it took a few hours of deleting registry keys and hidden files and folders all over the place to fully get rid of the beta install.

Terrible work on their part making an un-installer that doesn't actually remove the program and an installer that can't upgrade from the beta version.
Okay, now I don't feel so bad.

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SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)