Here’s my amazing Microsoft story

GatesMicrosoft announced on Tuesday a slick new program called the Start Something Amazing Awards. People are encouraged to submit stories about their experiences with Microsoft technology and how they’ve used it to pursue their interests or start something new. Wait until you hear about the prizes: Five lucky winners will get a round trip ticket to Seattle to meet Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. As if that weren’t reward enough, the company is throwing in $5,000 in Windows technology, while one lucky grand prize winner will participate in a national Start Something ad campaign. My most memorable experience with Microsoft occurred a few a years ago and unfolded over the course of two months and about 20 phone calls to the MSN tech support center. My problem was that, for some reason never adequately explained, MSN lost a critical piece of data from my account that allowed me to log on and surf the Net. I would call tech support, listen to Muzak for the requisite 20 minutes or so and then be connected to a tech guy or gal who would politely ask if they could call me Steve. Sure, why not? After about a half hour of clicking into various files and reconfiguring this or that folder, the techie and I would solve the problem. And the solution would last until the next time I tried to use MSN. So I’d make another call, listen to Muzak and be asked if it was OK to be called Steve. After about the tenth call I replied, “Sure, you can me Steve. But only if you fix my @#%! MSN account permanently, you poor excuse for a @#%! geek!” I didn’t really say that, but I wanted to. This went on for a while longer. It was back in the days when MSN offered a $6.95 a month version for users who didn’t surf that much. I’m sure my problem stemmed from a conspiracy by Microsoft to upgrade bottom-fishers like me. And then one day my daughter came up with the solution. “Dad,” she said, “Let’s switch to AOL. They have Instant Messaging.” Problem solved. That’s my Microsoft story. I doubt it’s prize-worthy.

—Posted by Steve McClellan