Respect for Our Clients

For a long time, I’ve suggested that testing should focus on product problems that pose risk to the business. That remains true, but lately I’m thinking there’s another consideration.

For instance: yesterday, I accepted an invitation for an online meeting from a potential client. The invitation contained a link to a Microsoft Teams meeting. (If you know where this is going, and find it too painful, just skip to the last three paragraphs of this post.)

At the appointed time, I went to my Outlook calendar, opened the appointment, and clicked on the link that said “Click here to join the meeting”.

A message appeared:

“An app that can open this link?” Which particular app might that be? Considering the text above “Click here to join the meeting” read “Microsoft Teams meeting”, could we surmise that the app in question might be Microsoft Teams?

All right. I clicked on “Browse Microsoft Store”. There’s a bit of this:

And then this:

What’s going on here? The link to find a compatible application doesn’t contain appropriate information to access that application?

Back to the meeting invitation. There was a link that said “Download Teams”. I clicked on that.

“Connect and collaborate with anyone from anywhere on Teams.” Okay. Since I was on my desktop, I clicked on that. The page scrolled down a bit:

Wait… which is it? I run a small business. I’m being invited by a client that works in a large enterprise. I guessed “work or school”.

After a few moments, the download completed, and I opened the link. Nothing happened for a bit; then the Teams splash screen appeared, telling me that Teams was being installed. And then this:

I had a dim memory of having installed another version of Teams at some point, so I click on “Switch Teams app”. This appears:

It wasn’t at all clear on how I was to join the meeting for which I was now several minutes late. I went back to the original invitation in Outlook, clicked on the link that said “Click here to join the meeting”

And this appeared:

I was in the movie Groundhog Day, trapped in this endless loop, doomed to continue forever.

I wasn’t trying to do anything unusual or difficult here. I wasn’t dealing with incompatibility between vendors. It’s a Microsoft Windows 11 system, Microsoft Outlook, an invitation from Microsoft Teams on my client’s Microsoft Windows system. The application; two applications (in the name of all that is holy, why two?!) were to be delivered from the Microsoft Store. And, when installed, neither one of them worked.

I sent a desperate email to the client, with a Zoom link inside. Fortunately, he had instant email notifications on. We were able to get started on our meeting within a few moments.

Maybe you use Apple products instead, and you smugly shake your head and say “Microsoft!” I have one word for you: iTunes.

Software development and testing are being mismanaged, often at risk to the business. Sometimes product problems can result in serious loss, harm, or damage to people, which mean consequences related to business risk.

But there’s more to it than that. It seems to me that society these days is increasingly short-tempered, irritable, upset, frustrated, angry. When I consult my own experience and my own feelings, I’m annoyed and exasperated every single day because some piece of software fails to do the job in ways that are obvious — or that would be, if only we were looking for problems and fixing them before inflicting them on customers.

Don’t we in the software business aspire to better than we’re doing? Don’t we have an obligation to our fellow human beings to get things right? And if we don’t know where things might go wrong, don’t we have a duty to look for problems so that we can get them fixed?

6 replies to “Respect for Our Clients”

  1. MS Teams has been raising the hairs on my neck quite a few times. I was facing a sort of similar problem. However since my ‘large corporation’ somehow got configured by a large corp client I worked with that account became inaccessible after I did just one session for this client. An error message told me that I needed to contact the admin of that large corp for MY OWN account. For some reason though opening the link in a browser (not using the app) does grant me access.

    Sure Teams has grown in popularity and improved the app, but at least the persona ‘contractor’ was poorly managed.

  2. When I try to use a simple app to do a simple task, I often wonder what I’m doing wrong. After fiddling a bit or maybe reinstalling the whole thing, I discovered that the development team had missed the goal of the app and ended up doing a parade of features. Unfortunately, for me as a user, the true objective was lost in them. Yeah there might be some features that require a proper identification or paid subscription, but I could deal with it later, after the meeting.
    Just the other day, I had a job interview scheduled online at Microsoft Teams room or something. Then I thought “Uh oh, that app again.” So, 15 minutes before the meeting, I checked everything, set up the camera and microphone, closed all apps, and waited for the time. (Wait, did I say I had to prepare for a online meeting, like some sort of ritual?)
    When the time came, I clicked the Join the Meeting link from my Apple Calendar. The link opened in a browser and asked if I wanted to install Teams on my mac and open it there, or if I wanted to continue in the browser. I had Teams installed on my computer and it was already open. I just couldn’t figure out how to insert the link into Teams. After clicking the blue button, Teams opened up and whatever account I was on was not compatible with the link. In the desperation that I was already a few minutes late, I decided to do it on the web version anyway. And I had to go through several login attempts, requiring an OTP, which would eventually be sent by SMS. I finally logged into the meeting about 10 minutes late. Perhaps everyone else had the same issue (was that a feature?), the interviewer said that Teams server went partially down or something and they were sorry for the problem it caused.(Yes they pay a bussiness subscription for the whole office pack)
    When did online meetings get so difficult? We might as well go back to the office and schedule a room, it’s easier. Seeing that Windows users aren’t having a better life makes me think that maybe they aren’t really making Apple users miserable, they just don’t know what they’re doing.

  3. Sometimes you think which Product owner comes with the idea that there should be 2 versions of a product, which are not even compatible or is M$ using 2 different product teams for almost the same product.

    This is almost one of the first exploratory testing you will do, are the team clients compatible.

    Zoom works great, simple, while they have personal and business line en even Skype (by Microsoft) works.
    Keep it simple, if things work then you don’t to update. (that’s why everybody is still happy with windows 10)

  4. That’s awful, yet you have yet to experience the full horror of Teams. Once a couple of your clients have added you to their Teams tenant (typically to share files) it will open a whole new world of weirdness.

    You will click a link to join a meeting with one client, but a dialog will say you are logged in to a different client. It will say you can stay connected to that client, but it would be better (in unspecified ways) to switch to the other client. It actually doesn’t matter which choice you make unless you prefer one mode of failure over another. At this point it usually, but not always, helps to terminate the Teams process in Task Manager and start again.

    To be fair to Microsoft, we also get bizarre behaviours with Zoom, such as it logging you into a phantom duplicate of a meeting on your own, while all the other participants are in the original meeting. Some of the things it does are so incomprehensible we can’t even describe what happened, let alone explain it.


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