The Old New Thing

It’s not Christmas: Nobody enjoys unwrapping your present

I don't know why it happens, but it happens with disturbing frequency. A customer wants to report a problem, and then illustrate it with a screenshot or two, but instead of attaching the screenshots, they paste the screenshots inside a Word document (and for some reason it's always Word) and then attach the Word document. It's not a ...

A new record for the shortest amount of time between an email message and its resend

As I've noted before, people didn't answer your first question for a reason, but one thing I forgot to point out is that you also need to give people a chance to answer the first time at all! Occasionally, I'll see somebody ask a question, and then resend the question a short time later. You also have to take into account the time of day. ...

Email tip: Pronouns in the subject line are in the eye of the beholder

This applies to email, but it applies even more to meetings and appointments, which are typically arranged via email or similar workflow. It may seem obvious at the time, but messages with pronouns like me or you in the subject line tend to be harder to understand when you come back to the message a little while later. I was reminded of this...

Email tip: Nostalgia is not a question

This is another special case of Don't forget to ask your question, indeed an even more extreme case of Making some statements and asking for advice isn't a question. I remember in version X, we used to be able to accomplish Task Q by clicking on W and then selecting X. Now you have to click on Y and select Z...

Email tip: A peer-to-peer discussion group does not come with a service level agreement

Most email discussion groups are not official support channels. There are a lot of peer-to-peer mailing lists inside Microsoft, consisting of people who are interested in a particular topic, sharing tips, providing advice, helping each other out if somebody runs into a problem, but they aren't the official support mechanism for the product ...

When you ask somebody to take a look, you need to tell them what you want them to find

Here's a message I received some years ago, paraphrased: From: X Subject: FW: Bug 161803: Program Q uses undocumented resource which we changed in Vista Raymond, can you take a look? ------- Original message ------- From: Y Subject: Bug 161803: Program Q uses undocumented resource which we changed in Vista It appears that ...

Email tip: Don't use a rude subject line just to make your message easier to spot

Here are some subject lines I've seen over the past few years (suitably redacted): Sure, using exclamation points, all capital letters, or strange eye-catching punctuation marks makes it easier for you to spot replies to your message in your inbox, but it's also rude to your readers, who almost certainly do not consider your message as ...

Welcome to the Microsoft email culture

For good or ill, email is the most heavily used communication system at Microsoft, so much so that most people at Microsoft are known by their email addresses, sometimes more so than by their legal names! For example, most everybody at Microsoft knows Stephen Toulouse by his email address, "stepto" (pronounced as if it were spelled "steptoe...

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