This little concert shows exactly why I love this guy Lyle Lovett.
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After writing the previous article, I investigated further. It seems that Office 365 has its next iteration in preview. I signed up for a trial account to look around it. It has definitely changed its look to match the other new offerings that outlook.com is offering. This is heartening. When, however, they are going to implement it is unclear.
The other thing that is still unclear is that although they have offered some new services such as Skydrive, it is unclear whether they will fix the clunky problems under the hood. In the area I will not that when you create a new message, the message doesn’t come out in a pop-up window, it shows in a preview pane. This may or may not help to solve the problem I was having with timeouts in the middle of my email.
Hopefully the transition to this new system will be fast and easy, and happen sooner rather than later. The transition from BPOS to Office 365 was poor. It was a bear to make the transition and for me it required several calls to the support department.
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I have been working with Office 365 from both a technician standpoint and a user. I began with what they so inelegantly called Business Productivity Online and made the transtition with them to Office 365. I want to share my thoughts here for others who might be considering it and also for Microsoft to make some suggestions and give some customer feedback.
I mainly use the Outlook Web Access portion of it. It is very useful to me because I have several email accounts on different systems and this allows me to check my email on all of them from one central web-based location. This is invaluable to me because I work on many different computers, and often they are not mine.
I believe that Office 365 works better when you use the Outlook desktop client on Windows, Outlook 2010 to be specific, but I don’t have that luxury very often.
I will briefly list what was improved for me in the Office 365 upgrade from the BPOS, as they called it.
1. You can now use more than one Office 365 account simultaneously in Outlook.
2. You can access your admin panel much more easily and from the same login as the rest of your environment.
3. You can access Lync from the Web based Outlook.
4. Office 365 web works much better with Macs now.
With that said, I’ll now tell you where there is much need for improvement.
1. Too many confusing URLs. I still don’t really know where the best place to log in is. My clients, really don’t.
2. Lync is, in my experience, really hard to set up especially if you want to be able to IM with people outside of your own office.
3. The Web based email or OWA is ugly, I mean really ugly. It’s depressing and the themes make it look even more ugly. If it looked like Outlook.com, I’d be very happy.
4. The password changing problem is still there, you can turn the mandatory password change off, but it takes some fancy command line stuff.
5. The blocked senders list does not work all the time.
6. Outlook.com is looking much more aesthetically pleasing and it even tempts you to log in there for some reason, but it has nothing to do with Office 365.
7. On the web Outlook there are two really annoying things. When I create emails, if I take too long to prepare the email that I’m writing, it times out and I have to copy the text and make a new email, or I lose it.
8. The fonts and spacing are not predictable.
These are my complaints, and I’ll tell you I’m not really one to complain. It is getting tiresome though because it can be frustrating to me and more importantly, my customers.
I never met Mr. Jobs, but I felt like I knew him. I was talking with an acquaintance of mine the day after he died and she said, “I’m so sad that Steve Jobs died, it was like I lost a friend.” This girl was not a techie, just an avid user of the products. She held her iPhone in one hand and looked at her Macbook in despair. I have the things. Now what?
I did have correspondence with him, at least I think I did. I sent him an email about 7 or so years back. I had just invested $600 in one of the flat panel monitors that had been out for a bit. I had a Powermac, and when I got it home, I realized that I needed an adapter. I had scrimped and saved for that flat panel monitor, and now I found that I needed another $99 for an adapter just to plug it into my computer.
Frustrated, I sent an email to every email that I thought would be Steve’s. In a very sincere email that stated that I had been an avid Apple user since I bought the Macintosh Plus in ’85 (after a long deliberation over whether to buy that or the Leading Edge Model D), I told him of my disappointment that on top of the $600 I had to spend not the flat panel, I had to now spend $99 for an adapter.
To my surprise, I received a phone call from a person at Apple headquarters that was going to handle my complaint. They gave me the adapter for free! What? I had never had such a response! This was clearly an exceptional company.
Ever since then, I occasionally wrote to that address, only in times when I felt there was an injustice that I thought he would understand. Every time the problem was fixed the way I would have wanted, sometimes much more so. This address became much more public in the last few years as people reported having received short responses from it such as “yep.”
The most incredible time was when my Powermac died at a period in my life when I needed it but couldn’t afford to buy another. Originally, I had spent several thousand dollars on this machine. It lasted for four years, well past the Apple Care warrantee. First, the power supply blew, and I got it fixed for $300 at the Apple Store. Then, weeks later, it started leaking coolant. I wrote to Steve again, explaining my plight and also, my long history as an Apple proponent. Within days, I received a call, and they had a brand new Mac Pro for me as a replacement. I literally almost cried. When I picked up the computer, they also gave me free Pro Care. What? In a world of increasingly horrible customer service, this company shined so brightly.
The day after Steve died, this computer he had given me suddenly wouldn’t start. It turned out to be a hard drive failure, from which I could recover it with a new hard drive. While I was still diagnosing the problem, sure that the computer was just as sad as I was about the loss of our friend, I looked online to see if there was some chance that it was still under warrantee. Strangely enough it was, almost three years later. Not only had he replaced my computer. He also put it under warrantee for another three years. Hats off to you Steve. We lost you way too young. Hopefully you can be an inspiration to all of us for your clarity of vision and your basic sense of fairness.