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Pardon Me?

From a story in last week's issue of Business Week on how Firefox (my browser of choice, incidentally) is gaining ground on Microsoft's Internet Explorer:

Microsoft's Internet Explorer has slipped 4.9 percentage points over the past six months, to 90.6%, the lowest in three years. "It's an emotional number. When Microsoft drops to 90%, it's big news," says Jeffrey W. Lunsford, WebSideStory's chairman.

Microsoft is hardly on the run. It has an overwhelming lead, and most corporations have adopted its browser for their employees, so it should have staying power. But many of the 16 million consumers who have switched to Firefox view the upstart program as safer from viruses and packed with innovations. Those include a "tabbed browsing" feature that makes it easier to move quickly from one Web site to another, in part by firing up a series of favorite sites all at once.

But Microsoft has been working hard to clamp down on security and vows to make other improvements. "These features, along with Microsoft's world-class customer support, continue to make IE a compelling choice for consumers and enterprise customers," says a spokesman.

"Microsoft's world-class customer support"? Pardon me? What are they talking about? Seriously?

First, I can't remember the last time I called Microsoft for customer support. I think it was perhaps four or five years ago, and I seem to remember I was offered paid support as my only option, which I declined. Ask yourself: when was the last time you called Microsoft for support? Really? Ever?

Second, calling Microsoft for support on Internet Explorer? Do people really do that? And does Microsoft answer when they call? And do they support it for free? I'd like to know.

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