Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Microsoft morphs into General Motors: my OneCare account termination story

In the early 1990s I couldn't understand why an acquaintance was delighted by Microsoft's ascendancy over IBM. IBM had been floundering for so long they seemed pathetically charming, whereas Microsoft was Darth Vader and Sauron united -- a blight on the world of personal computing and a ruthless destroyer of every better option.

That was then. Now I still fear Microsoft will resurrect itself, but Gen Y thinks of them as harmless incompetents. My latest experience is pushing me closer to the Gen Y camp. Here's what happened when I tried to kill my Windows Live OneCare account (866-663-2273, but listen for the option number, they permute it ..):
Gordon's Tech: Microsoft OneCare dies: XP hangs by a thread

.... Update 4/21/07: It's one thing to uninstall OneCare, another to kill the OneCare account. The account auto-renews forever. You can't change this online, you have to phone Microsoft to cancel. I tried this tonight. The phone rang a bit, then came a voice .. "Microsoft is closed". Click...

Update 4/22/07: OneCare support has the world's most obnoxious hold music. They alternative up-tempo elevator music with two repetitive sales pitches spoken in a cheerfully grating tone. I got to listen to a lot of that today. After a half-hour I went to lunch, when I returned the line had gone dead. So the wait time was probably 40 minutes. I'll try again tomorrow. ...

Update 4/24/07: Waited 30 minutes on hold. Called back and pushed 9,9,9. Got a support-referral person. They suggested I try option 2 for tech support. Got someone there. They said hours for the account services are 5am-10pm M-F PST and 5am-5pm PST Sat/Sun. They also suggested calling Microsoft's Money-Back-Guarantee line at 888-673-8624. They put through to another tech support number. They said I can't stop the account renewal process without support giving me an "ASIS" number. They transferred me to fee-based technical support where I listened to hold music. Then I gave up...

Update 4/25/07: I ignore the "get an ASIS number first" advice and and call the billing number again at 8:45am PT. Got through immediately -- but that was a false alarm. I'd hit option 3 twice, and errant key presses bring up a human router. She laughs maniacally when I mention OneCare and sends me back to the accounts line. I decide to wait 10 minutes. After seven minutes of the insanely irritating hold music and repetitive marketing patter I decide Microsoft owes me a copy of Macintosh Office 2007 and I contemplate piratical acts. At minute eight the phone picks up. I'm asked why I want to dump OneCare. "Because it has caused far more damage to my system than any virus I'm likely to see". There are no further questions, and to my disgruntled surprise I get a prorated credit of $32. End of story, except, of course, for a post to Gordon's Notes.
Once upon a time General Motors bestrode the American economy, an unassailable behemoth. It took them decades to fall, but by the 1960s they'd been rotted by easy money. Toyota entered.

Microsoft went from nothing to the greatest corporation in world history in about 15 years. If the trend continues they'll collapse even faster, though their massive cash flows will keep them standing no matter how bad they smell.

Gen Y, I gather, fears Google ...

Update 7/8/07: I've since been thinking of Microsoft as a monstrous brain-eating zombie, though both Photosynth and Windows Live Writer suggest the Zombie can still keep some brains on the shelf. It's my wife, however, who pointed out that American under Bush has followed the same progression as Microsoft and General Motors. Very powerful, very dangerous, but no longer meaningful -- simply a big slowly dying Zombie.

Also, I posted an aside about "Microsoft on crack" in August of 2006, I think that was after the Windows Live Cam debacle.

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