Microsoft – the early days

Microsoft Corp. was founded in 1975 to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800. Customer support in 1975 consisted of Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

The Windows era begins

Microsoft celebrates its 10th anniversary and the first version of Windows ships, providing a new software environment for developing and running applications that use bitmap displays and mouse pointing devices.

Portfolio grows, support grows

The install base for the MS-DOS operating system reaches 30 million. Microsoft’s product portfolio continues to grow. To keep the ever-increasing number of customers happy and productive, the company establishes a new Product Support Services facility, handling more than 1,000,000 calls per month.

Windows is a hit

Windows 3.0 launches and lands. More than 4 million copies are distributed in the first year, sparking the release of more than 1,200 Windows-based applications from other developers. To support its growing customer base, Microsoft trained thousands of resellers and has more than 500 product support personnel in place.

Support is formalized

Microsoft announces a new Consulting Services Group — Information Technology Integration Services (ITIS) — to help corporate customers with Microsoft products while the Product Support Services (PSS) group helps consumer customers. The groups will later become Microsoft Services and Microsoft Customer Service and Support (CSS).

Most Value Professional (MVP) program is launched

Microsoft begins the MVP Awards program to recognize the most credible and active members of technical communities who have a passion for technology and helping others.

Windows 95 launches

Windows 95 offers built-in Internet capabilities and dial-up networking, and makes it easy for customers to install hardware and software with features like device manager. More than 7 million copies of Windows 95 are sold in its first year of availability. Microsoft provides support in 29 languages.

MVP program grows, community forums evolve

The Internet grows exponentially in the late 1990’s. As customers turn to Internet resources more than 850,000 times per week, Microsoft announces the Microsoft Newsgroup, a forum for peer-to-peer interaction led by MVPs.

Newsgroups evolve further into IT pro and developer forums, TechNet and MSDN, and by 1999 more than 1000 Newsgroup forums receive 350,000 questions per month.

Windows 98

This consumer-geared operating system opens and closes applications more quickly, reads DVDs and uses USB devices. It is also the first operating system to include Windows Update, a tool that tells customers when software updates become available for their computers.

Windows XP

Windows XP provided customers with enhanced security and mobile computing features as well as Tablet PC capabilities. It also includes limited automated troubleshooters activated by assisted support online.

Release of Service Pack 2

Microsoft releases Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows XP, the largest service pack launch in Microsoft’s history, to enable a more secure computing experience for millions of customers worldwide.

To give this large customer base greater access to support resources for SP2, Microsoft expanded the availability of e-mail and chat support and self-service content.

Windows Vista

With an updated graphical user interface, a redesigned search function, multimedia tools including Windows DVD Maker, and redesigned networking, audio, print and display subsystems, Windows Vista built in the first support diagnostics, although limited.

New tools respond to customer feedback

Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista is released, providing users with improved stability and performance. The Windows Vista Compatibility Center provides comprehensive compatibility information for a wide array of hardware and software.

Microsoft Answers is launched

A new forum for Windows Vista users enables people to find information about common issues, and post questions that peers, Microsoft MVPs and Microsoft Customer Support experts answer. It attracts 6.5 million users in the first 10 months and offers 54,000 Microsoft-validated solutions.

Fix It launches

Fixing problems becomes as easy as the click of a button with a new support tool that automates diagnostics and scripted solutions to address more than 400 problems. To date, more than 7 million users have successfully clicked a Fix It to solve problems that range from audio to security.

Microsoft MVP program continues strong

Today, Microsoft MVPs live in more than 90 countries, speak nearly 40 languages, and answer more than 10 million questions each year. Their expertise spans 90 Microsoft technologies.

Microsoft Answers for Windows 7

In preparation for the launch of Windows 7, Microsoft gives customers a forum to easily find and use information shared by their peers, and to ask questions about Windows 7. Since May 2009, the Getting Ready for Windows 7 is the most active forum. Microsoft Answers for Windows 7 is available in English, and 10 additional languages will follow.

Twitter support for Windows 7

Bringing support closer to customers to help them at their time of need, Microsoft launches @MicrosoftHelps to help customers with customer service questions, technical support issues and product issues on Windows 7 through Twitter. It is available in English, worldwide.

Windows 7

Self-healing and diagnostic capabilities are built into the product; Windows Action Center helps customers through automated troubleshooters, diagnostics and resources to solve problems more than 150 common problems and give customers the ability to prevent technical issues.

Microsoft Retail stores open

The Microsoft retail stores open their doors. Inside, customers can visit the Answers Desk for personalized service, support and information. This is just one more way Microsoft is delivering support to customers.

Online support surges

From 2008 to 2009, the traffic to Microsoft online support jumps from 800 million to nearly 1.2 billion.

Microsoft Customer Service and Support now manages 30 million support requests online, through e-mail and phone each year in 29 languages across a range of products around the world. There are more than 7,000 agents in over 60 locations available to help Microsoft customers.

The Evolution of Customer Support.