Jim Glass just announced Microsoft Forums, the next links in the Microsoft developer division’s “virtuous feedback loop”. The idea is pretty simple – “hey, why don’t we give our users web forums in which to talk, as well as newsgroups” – but Jim does a compelling job of explaining how this will help both Microsoft product groups and our customers.

I’m particularly jealous because I’ve just spent several days wrestling with the recalcitrant toolset we use to build and run beta programs and newsgroups on http://beta.microsoft.com. Non-intuitive interfaces, out-of-date documentation, unimplemented features – this thing is the poster-child for a typical line-of-business application. I’ve been trying to smooth off some of the more jagged edges so that our users won’t cut themselves too badly, but there’s only so much I can do to hide the beast lurking underneath.

If my manager is reading this, we really should switch to the developer division’s “Ladybug” system (aka http://lab.msdn.microsoft.com/ProductFeedback/) as soon as possible :-)