440 Davis Court #1602
San Francisco, CA 94111-2496
415 781 5700

June 1, 2000

02 05 04 61 00060101

Mr. Mark A-MHIDD
Windows 2000 Support
Microsoft Corporation
16011 NE 36th Way
Box 97017
Redmond, WA 98073 9717

Subject:   Demand for Product Support, Windows 2000

Dear Mark,

This letter is sent to, but addressed to Mark, in order to establish a chain of responsibility.

Mark did a good job answering our telephone request on May 24, 2000, for technical support on issues we have reported to Microsoft the past few days about installation and use of Windows 2000. While Mark was unable to solve any of these problems due to Microsoft policies, his courtesy and willingness to listen reflect the kind of professional customer service we have come to expect from Microsoft the past 15 years in solving problems installing and using Microsoft operating systems for IBM compatible personal computers. However, Microsoft's new policy disclosed on May 24, 2000 of not supporting the customer and charging confiscatory prices is incorrect and conflicts with Microsoft's duty to perform reasonable support services, and maintain a viable working environment, as a vendor with dominate market control.

To orient review of this letter, the main purpose is to complain that Windows 98 was a defective product, which forced upgrading to Windows 2000 in order to obtain the benefit of the bargain Microsoft promised in selling Windows 98 and prior versions; but, Microsoft has failed to support Windows 2000 at comparable prices to that for Windows 98 and prior versions, in that...

  1. Prices for technical support on Windows 2000 Operating System (OS) range to 100 times greater than for prior versions. This pricing is confiscatory, and violates Microsoft's duty to support its products at reasonable prices in light of Microsoft's market position that mandates use of the Windows operating system (OS) in order to conduct daily business. Apart from any duty to the customer, this letter argues that Microsoft is better served by aiding customers, rather than alienating them, in that excessively priced technical support greatly reduces the chance to develop information for improving the product.

  2. Microsoft should provide OEM customers 90 days of support for configuring Windows 2000 to accomplish the same level of performance, or better, that was provided by prior versions of the OS.

  3. Microsoft has a duty to maintain a stable OS environment, and should therefore assist customers transitioning from prior versions to achieve reasonable and necessary compatibility in order to avoid undue and costly disruption of daily working operations that depend on the Windows OS. Adding capability should not result in reducing prior capability, except after advance notice of intent, and hearings providing the customer base the opportunity to present evidence on the need to maintain prior capability, and a ruling permitting any such reduction, based on cost/benefit analysis.

Additionally, this letter demands under Microsoft's implied warranty of serviceability that Microsoft make a reasonable effort to address issues set out below.

The basis of this claim to entitlement is as follows...


On March 10, 2000 we upgraded our motherboard and installed Windows 2000 on our computer c11. This was done because of repeated failures in February where Windows 98 was showing a blue screen failure on exit and on startup, and further because the mouse and keyboard suddenly stopped functioning. Recommendations we received from Microsoft and other vendors were to upgrade to Microsoft 2000 and get a new motherboard, changing from Asus to Intel, in order to get a reliable system. Research resulted in many reports that Windows 98 had known problems, which could not be solved with upgrades of Windows 98, and that Windows 2000 is a more stable environment. This was disappointing because we had used Windows 98 for a year or so, with only occasional crashes. But suddenly on February 11, 2000 repeated and severe failures began to occur. We could not use the keyboard nor the mouse in order to even attempt a solution. After several hours, suddenly the system worked for awhile, but the next day the system would not come out of suspend mode. Experts advised this was a problem with Widows 98 Edition one, so we upgraded to Edition two. When the problem occurred again, using Windows 98 Edition 2, we were forced to install Windows 2000 in order to obtain a reliable system.

We need a reliable system, because we use the computer to manage the work by applying Communication Metrics. When the computer fails, we cannot manage the work, because there is no means to generate, integrate, organize, align and summarize new information into the history that supports understanding and decision making. As a result, mistakes and delay go up, earnings suffer.

In order to use the computer to support management, it has to be configured in certain ways that facilitate manipulating and preserving information, conveying it to others, and analysing and aligning information to produce knowledge and ideas. We depend on Microsoft to provide a stable environment that makes this possible. In simplest terms, the operating system on the computer, though perhaps unintended by Microsoft, expands the power of the alphabet as a stable, baseline set of capabilities that can be relied upon to facilitate growing critical knowledge when applied in certain ways. Over the past 15 years we have learned how to accomplish a stronger form of converting information into knowledge, based on a core competency with the Microsoft operating system.

Core competency, however, requires a stable environment, like the alphabet, otherwise it is transitory, rather than core. Certainly Microsoft can innovate to come up with new "words" (using the alphabet analogy); but, it should not eliminate nor change core "punctuation" and "spelling" of prior application, because people have arranged their lives and businesses over many years to apply the baseline features.

On March 11, 2000 we installed Windows 2000, and since then, the prior problems with Windows 98 have not occurred. This indicates that Windows 2000 solved the prior failures in the Windows 98 program. Microsoft is congratulated for continuing to improve the reliability of its products.

We purchased Windows 2000 from a trusted vendor along with an upgraded motherboard and an additional 128 MB of RAM. Later this vendor advised that it supplied an OEM version of W2K. We demanded the retail version, since the OEM version specifically states it is for a new computer, and we do not have a new computer, we have a used computer. The vendor maintained that there is no advantage to getting the retail version because Microsoft does not provide the standard 90 day support for getting started, as has been done with past versions.

Microsoft Discloses 90 Days Free Warranty Support

Microsoft Charges Confiscatory Support Rates

Yesterday, however, we received a letter from Microsoft under the signature block of Vanno, who expressly states that Microsoft does provide 90 day support, but thereafter Microsoft wants $300 per incident for telephone support and $200 per incident for email support. Since we have about 10 or so incidents, this could be $3,000, or 100 times the cost of the program. Based upon past practice, this is a confiscatory charge that conflicts with Microsoft's duty to support its products, on which we relied in making the purchase.

Naturally, a threshold question arises with respect to the meaning of "incident." We have a number of questions on configuring Windows 2000 beginning with partitioning the hard drive and identifying the directory for the operating system. All 10 or so incidents could be considered a single incident of "installation" issues. But each issue could just as well be a separate incident. In any event, Microsoft's pricing conflicts with its history upon which we reasonably relied, and are entitled to rely, by virtue of Microsoft's market position as the only supplier of a world-wide standard computer operating system for conducting daily business.

We believe Microsoft should take the lead in resolving this issue, rather than the OEM vendor. Microsoft has a team of experts on Windows 2000, who have access to the people who wrote the program. The OEM does not have those resources. It is busy calling on other customers to make new sales, and can only occasionally respond to technical issues. Further, Microsoft did not disclose in its advertising offering Windows 2000 that its support policy was any different than for Windows 98. While Microsoft did disclose that Windows 2000 was not intended as a replacement or upgrade for Windows 98, Microsoft had a continuing duty to correct the defects in Windows 98, and since Windows 2000 is the only way to do that, representations to the contrary conflict with the record showing that in fact Windows 2000 solved the prior failures of Windows 98 (see the record on March 18, 2000).

Pending Issues

Accordingly, we demand that Microsoft provide 90 days of support, beginning with the following issues...

  1. How do we partition the hard drive, format it for FAT32, then install the operating system in the directory: i:\00\02, as we have done in the past with prior versions of the operating system, and as a result have arranged software to look for the operating system in the designated directory? For more information, see the record on May 18, 2000.

  2. How do we configure Windows 2000 to show a 30 second start up option for selecting W2000, DOS, or Press F8 for diagnostics? The computer configured on March 11, 2000 has this feature, which is useful, but the system configured on May 18, does not. We want to know how to conform these systems. See also the record on May 18, 2000.

  3. We are getting a bell sound when computer c12 boots to the login in screen for entering a name and password. This does not occur on c11, and we do not want the bell. How do we eliminate the bell? This is distracting when taking notes in a meeting or during a hearing.

  4. The following error message occurs when c12 initially boots after log in and the desktop appears....


    Error reading registry key

    This error is not terribly expository. There is no evident impact on program functioning, however, it needs to be removed. Only Microsoft can do this, as further explained in the record on May 18, 2000.

  5. There is a loud pop on c11 every time we double click to open a directory in the system management list of partitions and directories, which is shown in both what you call My Computer and Explorer. This also occurs in IE and Netscape when we open a link. This pop just suddenly appeared. What causes it, how is it eliminated. It happened once before, and there was a very simple solution, but we didn't write it down, so we need the solution for our records. The pop is distracting when taking notes during a meeting or hearing.

  6. How do we eliminate or control history from appearing in various locations like "My Documents" in the Start menu, and History in IE, and in various temporary locations. Every time a file is opened, the OS puts a copy or record of it in a number of different locations. This is intended to be helpful, but it presents a security and privacy risk. The current arrangement requires the user to hunt down a lot of different locations. The user should be able to control what is and what is not recorded, and should be given notice whenever anything is recorded that is not expressly intended to be recorded.

  7. When the OS presents an error message, that message should be able to be copied, so that it can be incorporated into a record quickly and efficiently for managing the resolution. The current program requires the user to hand write whatever the OS comes up with, then transcribe that into a record for working the problem. It would be much faster to grab the message in a cut file, or, alternatively, enable the user to link to it and open the record where the OS generates any report. This would expedite review and reduce the cost of support.

  8. Disk defragment feature needs a simple way to enter a single command for all of the partitions, rather do one at a time. Diskeeper provides a program to click and start each drive with a series of commands, but there is no reason Windows 2000 should not work like Windows 98, and provide a single command to do them all at once. See the record on March 14, 2000.

  9. Backup needs a simple way to perform interim backups so the customer knows where the backup logs and data files are stored on the disk, and can access them directly to move or delete them as needed, and the program should be able to build an index from a backup. This entire environment wastes time, money and disk space. See the record on March 14, 2000.

  10. System Maintenance to defragment partitions, sort, if desired, and backup files incrementally, needs a way to be accomplished everyday with a single step, once configured, as in a batch file. It is not clear how to accomplish this needed security and maintenance efficiently using current Windows 2000 OS tools. There is a console feature, but it seems more complicated than a batch operation. There is a schedule feature, but we don't want to schedule anything. We want to run things when convenient by calling a batch file, rather than when convenient for the computer.

  11. Occasionally, the Toshiba Tecra 8100 stalls during the boot sequence, and has to be powered down, then started again. This may be a Toshiba issue, but Microsoft should comment.

Please call me at 415 781 5700 or send a letter letting me know when you can respond.



Rod Welch

Copy to:

  1. Mountain Computer and Engineering (MCE)