Geoff Snowman had the great suggestion of a blog entry on how developers can give Microsoft feedback to Microsoft. I have worked on both sides—giving feedback to Microsoft and receiving it from customers. Here are the best ways I know of to have your voice heard:

1.        When installing a program select the “Send usage data to Microsoft.”/ “Send feedback to Microsoft” features of our products. This turns on instrumentation that, for example, records the program state during a crash and feature usage data. Development teams use this data to both eliminate high frequency crashes and prioritize features.

A great deal of care is taken to remove personal data from these reports so I do not hesitate to check these options. These options effectively give you a vote in what the development team does in the future. I have used the data to make many product decisions and to drive which bugs are fixed first. Development teams find the crash reports are particularly valuable since they are a highly effective way to find crashes that testing missed.

2.       Feature request, bugs and issues can be logged with Microsoft connect (https://connect.microsoft.com). Issues are automatically passed to development teams. Thus, your issue will receive the direct attention of, say, the developer responsible for the feature. I rarely use internal bug reporting tools to log bugs against other teams as Microsoft connect works better. It should work just as well for you.

3.       MSDN forums (http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/forums) are a great way to connect with other users. Development teams read the forums and many team members are active participants. Through the forums, you can discuss your issue with, say, the feature’s designer. Also forum participation can get you noticed and asked to participate in customer councils etc.

4.      MSDN documentation often has a “Send feedback” link. If you discover an issue with the documentation, this is a great way to get it fixed. Documentation teams are grateful for the feedback and giving it drives quality into the documentation for everyone. I have got hundreds of documentation issues fixed this way.

5.       Volume licensing agreements typically have 24×7 support agreements. Microsoft customers lose a lot of value by not using these fully. These are a great way to get critical issues fixed. Also, your Microsoft Representative is a great source of relevant information—they are paid to keep you happy.

6.      Microsoft often asks customers to participate in usability, focus groups and customer councils. These are great opportunities to give your feedback in a very interactive way. Often customers are invited to participate based on providing good feedback, in the past, through other channels.

7.       Support calls receive a lot of attention at Microsoft. Development teams regularly receive reports on the top support issues. Development teams work hard to eliminate or reduce these calls or at least provide a fix for customers that experience the issue. Also, it is the only way to get certain patches. If you have an issue it is really worth following up with support.