Microsoft & Digital River Upgrades – All Customer Confusion

I certainly understand that customers don’t always get things right. After a number of years in sales, I am acutely aware of how many times communication fails between seller and buyer, with neither party really being at fault.

However, I also know that trained sales people are usually aware that an abundance of caution prior to the beginning of the end transaction is the best way to handle problems. Preempting them before damage is done is always best.

That is why I must look askance at the explanation given by Microsoft, on behalf of itself and Digital River, when giving explanation about the problems with Windows 7 upgrades.

First, the fact that people were experiencing problems with completion of a single file download has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the operating system of the download computer was 32 bits and the upgrade files went to a 64 bit version of Windows 7. Until the files are unpacked, its like the old television commercial about auto parts – “files is files”.

The excuses offered in the story from ComputerWorld only partially explain what was happening –

Microsoft yesterday blamed user confusion for the problems many have encountered trying to move from Vista to Windows 7 after buying a discounted upgrade offered to college students.

“Digital River and Microsoft are aware that some customers from the Windows 7 Academic Store had difficulties completing the download or installation of the product,” said a Microsoft support engineer identified as “Michael” in a message posted Sunday to the company’s support forum.

Minneapolis, Minn.-based Digital River fulfills download orders for Microsoft’s $29.99 Windows 7 upgrade offer to students. Several hundred users have said that they were unable to upgrade from Windows Vista to the new operating system after purchasing, then downloading, a Windows 7 upgrade, from Digital River.

“We are aware that consumers are encountering difficulties installing Windows 7 where the customer is currently running a 32-bit version of Windows such as Windows Vista, but purchased the 64-bit version of Windows 7,” Michael said.

Last week, users reported that an error message prevented them from unpacking files downloaded from Digital River. The message read: “We are unable to create or save new files in the folder in which this application was downloaded.”

“This error occurs when you are in the unloading phase of the 64-bit Windows 7 download process and are running a 32-bit version of Windows such as Windows XP or Windows Vista 32-bit,” Michael added. “This is by design, as you cannot launch setup for the 64-bit version of Widows 7 while running a 32-bit operating system.”

Again, two things should be reiterated – one of the problems widely reported was that the second, and largest, of the three files to be downloaded was being cut off early, not allowing completion of the download – leaving the customer with an incomplete file which was effectively corrupt, and the system was reporting that the download had been completed. Also, a quick popup at the very beginning of the first file (the executable) explaining that the upgrade could not take place, and why, would have saved much confusion, and customer ire.

The “clean system installation” is something that professionals are familiar with, but few customers are. Treating them as ignorant, but not stupid, is the key here, as assumption is the mother of all screw-ups.

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microsoft-logonot evil, just frequently not thoughtful…

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