Corporate Blogging Survey 2005 – Click to return to main blogging survey results page.


Downloading MSDN webcasts for offline viewing

Ronny Ong wanted to download webcasts provided by MSDN so that he could review the webcasts on his desktop or laptop at a more convenient time. There was no technical way to download the webcasts, so Ronny wrote a VBscript to allow the download. He posted how to download the webcasts and lots of customers used the program.

It used to be that with Microsoft LiveMeeting 2003, a user could only stream the webcasts they were not able to download the file for later use. Ronny Ong posted a VB script, two other programmers Stuart Gunter and Janco Wolmarans had a similar issue with downloading webcasts. Both programmers are based in South Africa and due to the high cost of Internet access in the country; it was costly to stream a video over the Internet. The two programmers created a simpler script and another blog reader Ralf Rottmann set up a website at

Mark Lakefish and George Pulikkathara from the Microsoft Webcasts Team met with the Microsoft Office LiveMeeting product team at Microsoft corporate headquarters in Redmond, Washington. Since the Live Meeting Team was in the building across from them, Mark and George walked over to their building and told them about the issue. The team had not even been aware that anyone would want to download the webcasts. The team had decided not to address the issue of downloading webcasts, as streaming was available for on-demand webcast viewing. Once informed of the workaround the LiveMeeting team made sure they discovered a better solution and incorporated the downloading feature in the next version of LiveMeeting in 2005. The Vbscript solutions from Ong, Gunter and Wolmarans came to light because of the existing blog run by George Pulikkathara. Though the use of blogs Microsoft was able to identify an issue and resolve it in the short term with a customer solution and eventually in the long term with a solution from the LiveMeeting team.

Don't forget about VB6

S. "Soma" Somasegar is Corporate VP for the Microsoft Developer Division; he travels around the country meeting customers, and has promoted the use of blogs within his division. Microsoft was going to discontinue its free support of Visual Basic 6, as the company focusing on Visual Basic 2005 support. Though blog posts and meetings with customers and user groups, Somasegar learnt that many customers were concerned that support for the VB6 would go away. Somasegar was able to explain through blogs that this has been exaggerated, as Microsoft will still offer paid support for Visual Basic 6, but are also committed to helping developers solve problems using Visual Basic.NET and Visual Basic 2005. Explained that such support would cost more then the VB6 support, but customers were happy to pay, just so long as they had the option to ask for VB6 support.

Transparency comes to Microsoft

All three Microsoft cases are examples of how blogging is helping Microsoft communicate better with their customers. With a company as large as Microsoft with 57,000 employees (2004 estimate), customers don't know who to contact and the company has a very impersonal face. Employees in the company are not bad people; they just don't understand the customer's needs. Blogs are helping Microsoft to listen and become more customer focused.

The move to more transparency within Microsoft is a big change in mindset. When George Pulikkathara first joined Microsoft in 2001 he ran a giveaway campaign for some Microsoft products, when he was sending out the products he signed the thank you cards sent with the products with his own name. Management told George that he should sign the cards "Microsoft" as any benefit to the good deed should accrue to Microsoft not an individual within the company. Under the direction of bloggers like Robert Scoble and Soma Somasegar there is a new drive to have more transparency in the company. Microsoft is realizing that to remain competitive the company has to rely on the expertise and skills of its employees, by empowering each Microsoft employee, each employee effectively becomes a real functioning brand manager for Microsoft whose role is to help the customer no matter what role they play in the company. Sometimes that transparency means that Microsoft will be criticized by customers and even employees, the new management thinking is that such criticism is good as Microsoft then has the opportunity to react and respond. With blogs, communicating that response quickly and effectively has become a lot easier in the last few years.

Today individual Microsoft product teams are stating their goal is to reach out to customers and humanize their products and technologies. Blogs are helping them to achieve those goals.

Executive Summary
Survey & Case Studies Overview
Crossing the Corporate Blogging Cultural Divide
Analysis & Commentary of the Survey Results
Blog Case Studies
Lesson Learned - How to Build a Successful Blog
Author Bios
About Backbone Media Inc.