Questions you shouldn't call Microsoft for....

Odd day at work today, I kept getting asked questions by people that simply cant be answered.  Some were on behalf of customers, some were questions from peers or others inside of Microsoft but I thought I would make a quick note of a couple of them to save everyone some time.  Here's a couple of questions that we simply can't answer for you if you were to call and open a case:

1.  When does Service Pack <x> release for product <x>?

A:  We get this one a lot, especially as large service packs for things like Windows come around to being closer to release.  I can understand why people want to know the date; so that they can start prepping their respective enterprises for it.  However, this is always going to be a question we cant answer. I always just tell people, it will release when it releases, because honestly, that is the actual answer.  It's software, anything can happen and putting out any kind of date without being 100% makes us just look silly.  This same answer goes for questions around major releases like Windows and Office.  We usually know the same day you do.

2.  Can you give me a master list of all the hotfixes I need to make my machine current?

A:  Oddly enough I was asked this a couple of times this week.  Usually I get it a couple of times a year, not a week.  This one is a little more easy to say "No" to but the reasoning behind that answer is important.  At Microsoft we have plenty of updates that ship to everyone as you are all well aware of.  But, not every update is meant for every customer.  Many updates are meant to fix something very specific (hotfixes) and not needed on all machines, but rather only ones with the actual issue the fix was meant to address.  Others are meant for everyone running a particular flavor of OS (security patches) where the patch is vital across all machines.  And still some are for performance tweaks, updates to specific roles/features, etc.  We usually ship this as optional or recommended updates and while not required to be on a machine, might not be a bad idea either.  Given all of those variables, it's hopefully easy to see why there isnt a master list for all machines.  You dont want all the updates made from one service pack level to another because you wont need all of them.

3.  How long will it take for CHKDSK to run?

A:  Quite simply, we don’t know.  There are so many factors that go into answering this question: volume size, number of files on the volume, fragmentation or corruption on the volume, etc that this is truly an impossible question to answer for customers.  We get asked this a lot in my group and trust me, if we could give you an answer to this, we would.  Quite simply though, its just not possible.  I usually defer to “As long as it takes” as my answer to this questions.

4.  Can you help me get my 3rd party application installed/working?

A:  This is a pretty common question as well.  We see this the most in our group around third party backup solutions, but it could be just about anything.  The best answer for this is to speak with your third party vendor first before calling Microsoft.  I know that seems like something everyone would do, but it’s actually very common for us to speak with customers who have never even approached the ISV/IHV about their issue  The vendor knows their application better than we do and they should be involved in the conversation.  Does that mean that its not potentially a Microsoft problem?  Not at all.  The OS could have some sort of problem that is causing the third party application to fail and we will definitely help you there.  However, we see a lot of issues that are known issues to the respective vendors and we just don’t know about them.

Hope these help.