Microsoft screwed up the launch of Surface Pro today and screwed many of its most loyal customers. I waited for an hour today for the Microsoft kiosk at Roosevelt Field Mall in Nassau County, Long Island, to open. While other people came and went, a woman who was nine months pregnant and a soon-to-be-married woman waited with me. Both of them wanted to buy it for their husbands, who like me have remained loyal to Microsoft while so many other lunatic fringe computer geeks have switch to Apple. And today Microsoft screwed us inexcusably.
A blizzard hit Long Island Friday night and was done with by 10 a.m. in Nassau County, the most populous piece of Long Island and the county bordering New York City. I had reserved a 128GB Surface Pro at the kiosk earlier in the week, paying $10 for the privilege. On Friday afternoon, with the blizzard on its way, I went to the mall and asked the manager of the store to release the product to me. He could not. But he assured me the store would open at 8 a.m., blizzard or not.
With a foot of snow on the ground this morning and all the roads in poor shape in Nassau County, I was in no great rush to get to the mall. At 10 a.m., I shoveled my cars out and made it to the mall at 1 p.m. Ninety percent of the stores were open by 1 p.m., despite the snowstorm. But the Microsoft store was empty.
Not only was the Microsoft store empty, but there was no notice posted about when it would open. Always an optimist, I waited. Over the next hour, a five or six more Surface-Pro seekers stopped by the kiosk and the mall filled up with people. More stores opened. Still, no one showed up from Microsoft.
“If this was Apple, this never would happen,” said one of the young ladies waiting with me, who also had reserved a unit. She had shown up at the kiosk at 10 a.m. and , seeing it empty, went to Best Buy and Staples to see if she could find a 128GB unit. No luck. They only had 64 GB units and were sold out of those.
One of the people who stopped by the kiosk but did not join us in waiting said he had gone to Best Buy and Staples and could not get a Surface Pro either.
While waiting, the three of us tried calling another Microsoft store, located about seven miles east in Huntington Station. No answer. Huntington, which is in Suffolk County, was hit harder by the storm than Nassau. No answer. We tried the call center for the stores. No answer.
On the way home, after waiting for an hour for someone to show up, I called a Staples and was told that they had one 64GB Surface Pro delivered and sold it. Apparently, Microsoft either was trying to manufacture a shortage of Surface Pros or did not manufacture enough of the devices. Reports have surfaced that Surface Pro was hard to find everywhere. "It's sad that Microsoft failed so miserably on launch day by not having anywhere close to the demand out in retail locations," says ZDnet's Matt Miller in a post today. "Apple sells out on launch day due to extremely high sales, but it looks like Microsoft sold out due to low available inventory."
What’s so troubling is that Microsoft has long been one of America’s most hated companies because of the way it's screwed people for years with bugs, the blue-screen of death, Vista, WindowsMe, and on and on. Surface Pro represents a chance for Microsoft to do better, a chance to come back after a decade of getting its butt kicked by Apple. Yet here we are getting screwed by Microsoft in exchange for our loyalty.
With 90% of the mall open for business and people filling the mall shopping, why couldn’t this giant company get its employees to show up at its store in Nassau County? If its customers could show up, why couldn’t its employees be there? Or at least leave a note saying when the store would open. It’s horrendous.
This incident was only the latest snub in my effort to stick with Microsoft. For the past year, I have contacted Microsoft’s relations firm, Waggoner Edstrom, several times asking for a spokesman to explain Office 365, Windows 8 and other new releases. I wanted to invite a spokesman to a webinar to explain Microsoft’s solutions and strategy to financial advisors, 90% of whom are on the Microsoft operating system in their businesses. Waggoner Edstrom once responded to my requests for interviews and then never followed through. Last week, I contacted Microsoft investor relations, and asked them to contact to me or get a product manager to call me. No response.
Microsoft has squandered its good name and continues to screw up. It’s frustrating.