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Microsoft botched all aspects of Exchange outage response

Gregg Keizer | June 27, 2014
Failure to communicate with users shows Microsoft has lots to learn from utilities, says crisis expert

Microsoft had no such representative; the closest the company came were the support technicians who added messages to the discussion thread. But although that thread was extensive, it was completely unknown to most users whose email suddenly quit working.

"So much of Microsoft's behavior was for the company's convenience, not the customers'," Grabowski said. "There are much better ways to answer customers in a crisis than Microsoft showed. It's their responsibility to guard against arrogance, and practice openness and transparency. Now [digital] service providers are suffering from the same kind of criticisms that they have chided brick-and-mortar companies about."

Although Grabowski and others said it was important for Microsoft to also manage the back end of the outage — explain what went wrong and what the company would do or has done to insure the same problem doesn't crop up again — Microsoft has said nothing of the Tuesday downtime as of mid-day Thursday. Outlets it has used in the past for such post-mortem discussions, like its service-specific blogs, were notably empty of any explanations.

That, too, was a failure. "I don't think we'll ever know what went wrong," said an IT administrator at a firm that was without email Tuesday because of the outage. That person asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media. "Microsoft's response was terrible."


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