I just returned speaking with friends at a local event tonite, many of them Microsoft customers. At one point, the discussion turned to the efforts Microsoft is making to improve the customer connection, through our establishined listening systems, cutsomer support calls, blogs, newsgroups and othger efforts that directly connect our product group emmployees with real customers (such as our Frontline effort... more on that later).
I recalled one of Michael Swanson's blog entries from late last month on WSYP Project: "We Share Your Pain" highlighted a video that has made the rounds and hit quite a nerve, quite literally. It illustrating how through the WSYP Project we're "increasing the connection between our customers and the product teams." Ouch.
But in a sense, it's representative of the way our product teams are truly developing better connections with our customers and partners (as well as a strong backside and a careful look at the chairs in their offices). When I was in Windows (working closely with our hardware partners) I was amazed to find out how much we also strive to improve the whole experience with Windows on the PC, bringing our partners into the mix through the WER and Microsoft Update efforts (more on this here https://winqual.microsoft.com/info/default.aspx). We've talked at past WinHECs of how Microsoft spends more than $40 million a year and a sizeable division on Windows Update.
So here's the math: Based on our findings, we've found that fixing 20% of the top-reported bugs can solve 80% of customer issues across the issues we've found on affected Windows platforms. Further, working on 1% of the bugs should address 50% of the customer issues. (More on this at the top level http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/maintain/WERHelp.mspx)