Microsoft is too stupid to be malevolent

What’s Games for Windows Live?
It’s supposed to be an online account that allows users to save their game progress online, purchase games, play online with friends, etc. It was announced five years ago, but MicroSoft has never developed it properly. It started out as XboxLive, and embarrassingly, five years later, when you actually sign up for Games of Windows Live, it takes you to XboxLive. Does Microsoft have any idea what message they are sending?

Hot off the heels of my story about Google’s incompetence comes a display of Microsoft’s ineptitude. One of the great joys of Thanksgiving time are the fabulous discounts for computer games offered by Steam. Discounts from 50% – 90% are common. So naturally, when Batman: Arkham Asylum Game of the Year Edition went on sale for 75%, I snapped it up. Unfortunately, the good folks at Eidos have saddled, Batman: AA with Windows Live.

You can’t save your progress unless you use Games for Windows Xbox Live. Okay, so sign up for an account. But you have to do an e-mail verification…wait a little longer…ask it to resend the confirmation…check to make sure the e-mail address is correct…check the e-mail server…send a test message to yourself…20 minutes later, still no e-mail…sign up again with a different e-mail.

Okay, it worked. Let’s play…no, there’s an update for Games for Windows Xbox Live, and I can’t continue unless I let it install…wait five minutes, it looks like it finished, let’s play!. Wait, no…it wants to install the update again! After two more cycles of this, I’m beginning to wonder if Steam will give me refund. Finally, I close all windows including Steam and try to run Games for Windows Xbox Live by itself, and it takes me to Windows Update. I have to patch Windows before I can update Games for Windows Xbox Live…why didn’t it tell me this earlier?? I’m now installing the patch, which will hopefully allow me to update Games for Windows Xbox Live, which will hopefully allow me to play Batman: AA. Now reboot…Wait! Logan’s up from his nap. I’m beginning to wonder if Eidos really wants me to play this game or not.

Google: Evil of Incompetent?

I recently purchased a Samsung Captivate. It’s a smartphone that runs on Google’s android operating system. The phone itself is very nifty, and Android is mostly fine, but Google—in the stupidest, most idiotic, boneheaded move ever—decided that you absolutely must have a gmail account to use the phone. In order to install apps from the “Market” you must enter a gmail account. All apps that you download or purchase are tied to this account forever. Moreover, when you purchase an app, it sends your receipt to the gmail account.

This is a problem, because my wife and I use a special e-mail account for all our orders. As she keeps track of our finances in Quicken, she can see online purchases that we have made, but now thanks to the evil incompetence of Google, Market purchases don’t go to that e-mail, and since I’ve already purchased an app, in order to change the e-mail, I would have to reset the phone (lose all data and settings) enter a new e-mail address. Oh, but wait, the previously purchased app? Gone. It’s associated with the despicable gmail account and cannot be retrieved. The internet is rife with stories of people inadvertently putting in their work e-mail first, and now that they’re changing jobs, they want to transfer their apps to a new e-mail. Can’t do it. To quote the evil insurance company from The Rainmaker, Google must be stupid stupid stupid.

But wait you say. You have a Google checkout account with a different e-mail address. Oh yes, there’s another e-mail address associated with the account, but no e-mail gets sent there. Here’s the not helpful at all Help Answer from Google:

Will I receive receipts for my mobile purchases?

If you already use Google Checkout on your computer, then you will continue to receive receipts for your mobile purchases.

You will also be able to view your mobile purchases on the Purchase History page of your account.

If you’ve only ever used Google Checkout from a mobile device and you’d like to receive email receipts for future Google Checkout mobile purchases, visit the Settings page to enter the email address at which you’d like to receive the receipts.

Here’s how:

  1. Click Settings along the bottom of the Buy page.
  2. Enter your email address in the Change Email Address field.
  3. Click Save.

If you’d like to change the email address at which you receive receipts, simply visit the Settings page to enter the new email address.

It’s a complete sham. First of all, do they mean the settings page from the Market in the phone or Google checkout? Guess what? There is no settings page in the market. There is no chance EVER to change the e-mail in the Market app. So perhaps they mean within Google Checkout itself? No, there is no “settings” link in Google Checkout; only a My Account link, which takes you to an overview of all your Google Accounts. (There is an e-mail preferences link in Google checkout, but do not be fooled. All it does is let you “opt in” to merchants’ “special offers.”

The bottom line is that the Captivate is a fine phone marred by Google’s utter incompetence, but even that can be mitigated if you know understand the issue. The moral of the story is be extremely careful with what e-mail you put into the phone before you make any purchases. Forewarned is forearmed.