For those of you who use the MSDN and TechNet library content, you may have noticed that Microsoft has changed the UI of these subsites: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library and http://technet.microsoft/com/library. . These are essentially the same site, that point to different databases. Some years ago, the sites were updated to have several skins: lightweight, script free and classic. I’ve been a user of Classic since forever and was very surprised to see that MS has decided to retire the classic skin.
In the MSDN forum, this decision generated a lot of discussion: see http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/libraryfeedback/thread/bbfb492b-4c85-4e8d-ab44-423c4050089e/ for the thread. A user, Victor Araya, posted on Jan 24th claiming to be the PM responsible for the user experience of these sites. He laid out his argument trying to ‘address some of the concerns’. The feedback on that post was interesting in that not one of the users who follows up this post either agree with him or like the alternative skin. Not one. Comments like “the Lightweight display is a complete failure”, “Lightweight is simply no where near as useable as classic”, “the lightweight view is just washed out and unappealing to the point I really don't want to use it”,” Microsoft really seems to be taking steps to alienate it's developers or just make our work harder” etc.
For me, the change means losing all the community content metrics and tag information. As a community content contributor for both the TechNet and MSND libraries, in fact the largest contributor by a mile, I am sad to see all reference to the thousands of hours I’ve spend curating the content just thrown away. It’s like all that work has just been for nothing. Heck, I didn’t even get a mail giving me a heads up that all reference to my work would vanish. Thanks Victor and your team for such a great job.
But perhaps the saddest comment comes from a very long time MVP, Cindy Meister. She says: You have to wonder what MSDN does with all the money people pay for their subscriptions. Good point Cindy.
So with such positive feedback – what does Microsoft do? Most companies would have read the feedback and at least gone into explain mode. But no – this is not how Microsoft reacted to the bad feedback. Instead of engaging the community, we’ve not had a single further response from either ‘Victor’ or any other MS employee. I find the lack of response from Microsoft highly disappointing. And despite every poster asking MS to keep the classic skin, the classic skin is no more – it’s gone. And along with the skin itself, we have lost quite a lot of great information and as well as the improved usability if offered.
It is sad is that no one from Microsoft has taken the time or made the effort to follow up on the many negative comments. It’s like they have made the decision and that’s that. No amount of sane and sensible paying customer feedback will change their minds. So we suffer. IMHO, Someone at Microsoft needs to listen to the community better. If I were Victor’s boss and read this thread, I’d be very tempted to let him follow his career objectives elsewhere and replace him with someone who gets the needs of the community.
What a sad day!