Problem Reports and Solutions

It’s nice that Microsoft is checking for solutions to my 584 problems:

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But the “solutions” leave a lot to be desired:

A newer version of Flash Player is available for download that might address this problem.

A newer version of iTunes is available for download that might address this problem.

A newer version of Nero Shared Multimedia Components is available for download that will address this problem.

We have detected that Internet Explorer 7 has experienced recurring errors on your computer.  This problem is usually caused by one or more Internet Explorer add-ons. Unfortunately, we are unable to determine which add-on is causing the problem. However, you can follow some troubleshooting steps to try to fix this problem.

This problem was caused by Microsoft Office Outlook 2007. Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 was created by Microsoft Corporation.  At this time, we do not know the exact cause of this problem.

A newer version of Google Desktop is available for download that might address this problem.

This problem was caused by Windows. This program was created by Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft Corporation does not currently have a solution for the problem that you reported.

This problem was caused by Microsoft Office System Software. Microsoft Office System Software was created by Microsoft Corporation.  An update is available for your Microsoft Office System product. This cumulative update fixes many of the problems customers have reported to us through the problem reporting system.

A newer version of Nero Video Codec is available for download that might address this problem.

None of these say “We found the problem.  Here is a fix.”  It’s more like “You’ve had a problem, but we have a new version.  Try it and see if it helps”.

What’s wrong with this picture?  It moves the burden of verifying whether the fix actually applies to the reported problem back to the user.  I hate reporting a problem and being told there’s a new version available, because nearly 100% of the time, this means the user has to go update, and then come back and say “it still happens”.

So let’s say I acted on this and spent a few solid days updating every piece of software on my computer.  Anyone want to guess how many of the problems reported would actually be fixed?

The problem reporting process sends enough information to Microsoft that they, or the vendors who receive the data, can usually determine whether or not they’ve fixed your problem.  Suggesting that a new version is going to fix every reported problem is just wasting a lot of people’s time.