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Customer comment and contributions no more as Microsoft pulls the plug on Office 365 UserVoice forum
No obvious replacement yet either
Microsoft has demonstrated its commitment to customer feedback by, er, shutting down some of its UserVoice forums.
Office 365 looks to have been the victim of last week's cull, although other forums, such as those for Outlook and Skype, continue to be active and a place where Microsoft thought-leaders can ignore customer pleas. (As a case in point: two of the top five requests in Skype Ideas – one of the forums' feedback tools – concern the resurrection of Skype 7. Both received polite brush-offs.)
The UserVoice forums are a handy way for companies to collect feedback on their products, and Microsoft is not the only software biz making use of the platform. Others, such as Box, are also fans.
Back in 2018, Microsoft's Jim Naroski put together an exhaustive list of forums available, from Access to Yammer.
It's probably time for Jim to make an update. While the likes of Excel and Word continue to listen to the bleatings of users, Office 365 has abruptly been shut down (as noted last week by Twitter user Marc D Anderson and first reported by Petri's Brad Sams), making all the content contributed by customers over the years suddenly unavailable.
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Those pondering if the forum had merely fallen victim to Microsoft's ongoing efforts to crush the Office 365 brand under the boot of Microsoft 365 are currently to be disappointed. No renamed forum is currently available.
The Register asked Microsoft to explain the decision and direct us to where customers might post and discuss ideas for the suite in lieu of the UserVoice forum. The company has yet to respond.
Microsoft has form when it comes to the abrupt removal of user contributions. The great MSDN deletion of 2019 rankled some and led to frantic back-pedalling by the Windows giant.
Customers wondering if they might make a contribution via their Cortana-enabled smart speaker have also been silenced thanks to an update rolled out to turn the assistant into little more than an expensive Bluetooth speaker.
The move likely signifies a shift from the UserVoice way of doing things, and we fervently hope that all the feedback (and voting) will not have been simply flushed away.
The lack of warning or obvious replacement is, however, a bit ominous for the prospects of Microsoft's other forums. ®