A recent questionnaire from Microsoft asked me what I thought of their documentation but in trying to think of an answer, I realised I avoided it like the plague.

Microsoft, your problem is that you’re so square you always feel the need to produce the ultimate reference manual and never publish a simple, easy to read guide. I can only suppose that a succinct plain English version would freak-out your corporate lawyers, desperately worried about misinterpretation if everything isn’t spelled out to the nth degree.

I always find myself avoiding Microsoft’s help pages when I research a Windows problem in Google. Sure, I know their advice will be very clinical and accurate but it’s never very helpful. I can understand that MS need to present things from the point of view of a computer scientist but this alienates the average IT Pro who really doesn’t have time to wade through reams of documentation which is always too thorough for practical purposes. I never have the time to read the reference manual, all I usually want is a quick and simple how-to which hopefully includes a warning about the pitfalls and pratfalls waiting to trip me up when I try it.

And.. thankfully, there’s thousands of generous bloggers and posters out there that can do what MS refuses to do, enabling me to get practical advice from someone who’s already wearing the t-shirt, been there and done it in the real world.