Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Feedback App: Top 5 Most Annoying Issues

Windows 10 App

Feedback App

Top 5 Most Annoying Issues - Grr

Since the beginning of time (well, Windows 10 time anyway) the feedback app has been present in this new OS and seen as the main way to get Microsoft to understand what we like, don't like and just can't get to work in Windows 10.

Whereas Windows 10 OS has undergone numerous "enhancements" since it's arrival in preview form in October 2014, the feedback app has only had one cosmetic change of any note, with some subtle trimmings to supposedly "help" us to share feedback. We got the option to filter feedback based on build and if it was our own feedback, which along with an underlying server fix, speeded up using the app immensely. Along with the search facility, it's now actually possible that you might be able to find relevant and related feedback that not only you created x number of months ago, but others have fed into the system. As for the "sharing" improvements ... well, we'll get back to that.

On the whole, it should be noted that the feedback app was welcomed by all Windows Insiders and has undoubtedly been a success for Microsoft with regards to the Insider Program. Of course, they then made the app available to everyone who uses Windows 10, which still feels like a sort of kick in the teeth to Insiders, but one gets where they are coming from. At least the communication channel is open to Microsoft HQ, and is so simple to use that anyone could work it out.

But, is it perfect? Oh course not, this is Windows 10 we're talking about, and everything is in transition with this OS ...

1. Screenshot really does mean screenshot

As simple as the app is to use, it's probably a little too basic for it's own good. By far the biggest issue almost everyone has with the app is when it comes to taking screenshots to send to Microsoft. We detail what the suggestion or problem is, and click to send a relevant screenshot to the experts, but unless the problem is something that takes up the whole screen, then whatever we send is usually way OTT for what needs to sent. i.e. If an app has a problem with a textbox, we have to take a screenshot of the whole ruddy screen just to show the textbox!

This has been a problem for so long, that it's long gone past being a joke. A whole screenshot? What's so wrong with that, you may ask? What about what else is on the screen? Isn't that private to us? No one wants to show anyone more than they need to, but when it comes to taking a screenshot with the feedback app, a screenshot really does mean a screenshot.

There are no editing tools to draw an arrow on the photo you send to help highlight an area, or cropping tool to help retain some of our privacy (what we have left anyway). Those who can be bothered will take the screenshot outside of the app and edit it in paintbrush (or Photo App if they are brave) and then when they take a screenshot in the feedback app they can just take a photo of paintbrush, with the image on screen. It's a neat way around the problem, but it's such a simple issue you'd think for anyone to resolve, that it's a mystery why almost a year down the line Microsoft have not made these changes.

2. Unreliable

When the filters arrived with the ability to only see your own feedback and only those related to the build you was on, it opened up a whole new world. Well, ok, not quite, but it was great and made things that much better. However, the filters are not only still far slower than anyone would expect them to be to update a list, but they aren't reliable. How many times now have you filtered on "My Build" and found items from your own feedback and others that you just know aren't relevant to the build you're on now? It's embarrassing that it still happens.

Then there's the problem that as you input your detailed information on a suggestion or problem that's very meaningful to you, the next item you find in the list above or below yours is something that you'd expect a five year old to have written in a tantrum, such as "DOESN'T WORK, FIX IT" as something more relevant perhaps for a greenhouse repair man who could see the problem is so obvious by the shattered glass.

To say something like Microsoft Word, Cortana or Edge doesn't work and needs fixing, and leaving it like that, it's about as much use as a chocolate mouse.

Then there's some great suggestions that you know are the equivalent of trolling, like "Make it better" or "Needs to be faster" which might as well just say "Blah Blah Blah".

Ok, so the app says feedback, but you'd think they'd have introduced some guidelines by now on how to construct a useful and relevant item for a suggestion or problem. I don't think anyone at Microsoft wants a "Doesn't work" item but at least you could say they know more than they did before.

3. One-way communication to Microsoft HQ

It is a feedback app and that's exactly what it does. We feedback to Microsoft ...

and they ...

... well

... they do stuff with that.

Maybe they make a dartboard and throw things at our suggestions, or stick them straight into a shredder. Who knows? Because we certainly don't.

Yes, most times that a new build comes out for Insiders, we'll see the odd line saying "Because you asked for it" or "We listened to you", but at best that's like three or five times a month or so that Microsoft is publically admitting that they listened to anything we fed back via the app. The rest of the time it's left to us trying to figure out if they know of the problem via Google, Tech Sites or the Insider Forum, or hoping Gabe Aul will respond to your particular tweet and inform us that, yes, they do know about the freezing Start Menu and they'd been working on it for days ... not that we'd know!

Seems Microsoft reckon we don't care about what they do with our feedback.


We care.

We took the time to actually input the feedback and send it your way, and you did ... well, could be diddlysquat couldn't it, because we don't actually know what they've done with it.

It was suggested months ago that the feedback would become a two-way thing, but it seems that the developers of the app most have been busy fixing all the problems with the other system apps because they've still not got round to updating the feedback app.

Much like "If a tree falls down in a forest, would it make a sound?", we Insiders have the equivalent of "If we submit a feedback item to Microsoft, will they even read it?".

4. It's a bit like a jumble sale

As good and easy to use as the feedback app is, it's probably a bit too good and simple for it's own good. This isn't helped in the least by the fact that the categories might look logical but they are only to a certain degree. If you have a problem with the action centre quick actions, then it's under "Quick Actions" as "Action Centre" has it's own categories. If you have a problem in Device Manager, which category should you post it under? You'd think it was obvious, but if it was obvious and easy, you wouldn't end up with people posting under different categories for the same windows component like this ...

5. Does our feedback really make a difference?

This is the crux of the matter. Back in the days, the advert itself said that "We made Windows 7" and that was without any feedback app. Now we have one, does Windows 10 really feel like we've shaped it into what it is now? Some items have taken so long to get through the system at Microsoft HQ, you do wonder who exactly is dictating Windows 10's progression, because it's certainly not us.

If it was us who had any say with the feedback app, then these items listed below would have been implemented by now as it's been up to 3 months they've been there with the most upvotes via the app ...

Ok, you can't create a password manager app in 3 months that'll be very good (not that that's stopped them larking about with Skype/Messaging). But the other 3 wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility would they? These are the top requested features, via the feedback app, that Microsoft said was for us to help make Windows 10 better. It seems all we're doing is debugging for them, rather than them actually implementing everything we ask for. Sure, 4,000 odd outvotes out of an install base of 110 million isn't many, but what's the feedback app for, if not for people who care to get their views across, and then for Microsoft to respond accordingly?

What needs to change?

At the very least, Microsoft at the end of each month should respond publically to the top 5 upvoted items of all-time with an update on what's going on, along with perhaps feedback on the top 5 most trending items. This way we get a better impression that they are listening to what we are saying.

We're taking the time to feedback suggestions and problems to them, giving them details, sending them diagnostic information via the app (it happens in the background) as well as telemetry via the OS. The very least they could do is say thank you in the form of telling us what they are doing with it, and take the time to make us feel important enough that they cover the top 5 feedback items in a monthly public blog post. It's not a lot to ask in the grand scheme of things. We know little about how our feedback is used and the mechanisms in place to deal with it as a bugfix or enhancement via an update. We don't even know what's in the cumulative updates to know if a top bug we reported has been addressed.

The Feedback App is a one-way conversation, the Windows equivalent of talking to a brick wall.

We Insiders and public alike are continuing to be treated with a big fat "talk to the hand" when it comes to knowing what's going on with the tons of feedback we directly or indirectly give them, out of the kindness of our hearts.

Lets get the feedback working both ways Microsoft!

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