It was an experience suffered by millions: people with new PCs, or with newly-installed copies of Vista, finding themselves with peripherals which simply wouldn't work because there were no drivers available. Aggrieved customer John Shirley decided to write an email to Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer:
Shirley said that he didn't upgrade one of his PCs because Windows Vista didn't have the necessary software, known as a driver, to run his top-of-the-line Epson printer and two scanners. "I cannot understand with a product this long in creation why there is such a shortage of drivers," Mr. Shirley wrote.
So far, so normal. Except in this case Mr Shirley happens to be on the board of Microsoft. It's a situation many of us dream of: finally being able to cut through all the layers of customer service and get a personal response from the CEO.
Not that it did much good. Reports Robert Guth: "Microsoft executives struggled to respond to complaints from a Microsoft board member about technical problems he had encountered."
Sometimes, it really doesn't matter who you are. That Epson printer ain't gonna work with Vista, even if you're on the board.