Community and Help Experience Survey: 163 responses and still going!

We wanted to follow up on the survey post that we ran not so long ago and give you an idea of what some results told us.

Although 44% of you tagged yourselves as lurkers, we had an overwhelming amount of participation in the "Community and Help Experience" survey. We want to thank all of you for taking the time to leave thoughtful and detailed responses. As I write, we are looking at this information carefully for ways to respond and improve the experience both short and long term. In planning for the next version of Exchange we want to envision ways to integrate help and the community experience into the product itself while also introducing people to the community through the product. We are finding it very interesting to learn more about what drives our community members to contribute. Many of you contribute to help others and to learn more about the project. And not surprisingly, the more expert you felt yourselves to be, the more likely you were to contribute.

Just this morning, we discussed the results of this survey. We were surprised to learn that most folks answered that they 'ignore the help file (CHM)' when they encounter a problem with Exchange. We hope that will change with Exchange Server 2007. We really think it's very different from past release's help files and we hope it will be useful to you – and most importantly, we want you to tell us if not! (2007 Documentation: We can update the help on the web after RTM (indeed, we do this on a monthly schedule already!) so any feedback you give us will be immediately helpful. Most of you, of course, rely on search to find information. This was not surprising and really tells us that we need to find ways to integrate the online search experience into the product, whether through search, instrumentation, whatever. We are working on this, brainstorming ways to leverage existing infrastructure, aggregate what exists, create entry points, and create truly contextual help and community experiences.

Many of you thrive (out of necessity) on troubleshooting a hard problem and sharing what you've learned. But, when those problems involve multiple products, then the help systems we have today are just not adequate. You want to see more (and more) product team blogs and find them useful and technically accurate. We can't help but wonder are the blogs valued because the core help content isn't useful? If the core help content rocked, would there still be as much demand for blogs? Please leave comments on this entry with your thoughts...

We know that finding a potential answer is not enough for many of you, most will look to verify that result in some way and when you find that information on a product team member blog we know that in many cases it can save you time. In addition to increasing blog presence, we want to find (more) scalable ways to help you validate information. Many of you recommended blogs that you find helpful and we have also noticed ourselves that many exchange-focused blogs tend to be list of links of things that the blogger found useful. Wouldn't it be cool if exchange admins could exchange their list of favorite resources & links with each other, and the most commonly linked resources would bubble to the top? Well, we are looking at implementing exactly these types of concepts by looking through your verbatim feedback with the intent of fostering more community and especially offering third party integration with our help system.

Right now, 51 different companies, from regions as diverse as Germany, Finland, Spain and China have responded to our survey. This is a fantastic way for us in Redmond to get a feel for how IT Pros around the world interact with our help and community systems and how they wished they could interact with our help and community systems. The feedback has been varied, but we are beginning to note some patterns, which we'll share when we get more data points through additional surveys and focus groups.

One pattern we noticed was that many of you tend to join forums in your geographic location, we are wondering is this out of convenience to your native language? If we were to translate our forums for you, on the fly, would you then be interested in joining a universal forum? Please leave comments on this entry with your thoughts...

And the best part for last... 84% of you provided us with your 411. As I said, you'll be hearing from us again!! This type of feedback is just what we need to improve the usability of our help system and community experience. As we begin to refine our ideas, we'll be following up with those of you who left email addresses directly as well as in general through the this blog. In addition to surveys, we are almost always conducting focus groups and "live" lab sessions here in Redmond, and are currently investigating doing them world-wide. Anyone interested? Enroll now in the usability participant database!  No pre-commitment is required, you can say "no" to any invitation.  See our privacy policy and how to sign up at


- Exchange User Experience Team

Comments (11)
  1. pesospesos says:

    Hi guys, does this team do the development of Outlook as well?  I am struggling with the new Outlook 2007 search feature.  As far as I can tell, search in OL2007 is completely crippled without WDS being installed.  We are a terminal server environment, and I’m having trouble figuring out how to make WDS/OL2007 index properly.  It seems that the indexing will constantly stop, because there’s always somebody on the machine who’s not idle.  How do we force WDS/OL2007 to keep indexing?



  2. Anonymous says:

    A follow-up post on the MS Exchange team blog on the survey they published earlier in the month to garner

  3. Jon says:

    Given the ubiquitous recurring problems with viewing CHM files, may I suggest that you instead consider the new MS Document Explorer format that SQL 2005 has adopted?  There is an obvious weakness that you would have to install additional software to read the docs (versus CHM whose viewer is part of the OS/IE), but personally I completely hate CHM’s because they hardly ever work right.  I still can’t get the Exchange 2000 docs to open to support our aging IM system, in fact!

  4. Exchange says:


    Exchange Team does not work on Outlook, but I checked with Search folks and indeed – running WDS on a Terminal Server is not supported at this time. For a case like this, you should be using Outlook in Online mode so then you will be using Exchange to do the search for the client. In case of Exchange 2007, you will then use the new, much faster, search engine – when compared to what we had in Exchange 2000 and 2003.

  5. pesospesos says:

    thanks for the update – we are indeed using online mode since cached mode is not an option for a TS environment.  However outlook still prompts to install WDS, and search is totally crippled.  how do we enable this new, much faster search engine?



  6. pesospesos says:

    Figured out the search — it doesn’t seem to work properly when searching a secondary mailbox in Outlook.  Also, do database moves require exchange to re-index for searches?

    Finally, how do we specify the OOF URL and Availability URL?  The gui lets you specify the OAB URL, but as you can see from the linked screenshot, our OOF URL and Availability URL still point to our internal fqdn, which makes outlook pop up a cert/ssl mismatch error…  how can I update these two URLs to point to our external fqdn?



  7. pesospesos says:

    guess the screenshot url didn’t come through… it’s

    thanks again!


  8. Ronald van Doorn says:


    many of you tend to join forums in your geographic location, we are wondering is this out of convenience to your native language? If we were to translate our forums for you, on the fly, would you then be interested in joining a universal forum? Please leave comments on this entry with your thoughts…


    This is out of convience and the different situation/cultural differences. We have different habbits, different rules, different laws. So sometimes local forums have more use. For pure technical problems language does’nt have to be a problem.

    PS Online translation is terible and not very usable to make it readable. OK the words are translated but the meaning isnt,  and many words have more than 1 meaning and online translation tend to pick the wrong one.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Better unified communications and collaboration big at Lotusphere 2007 Lotus As A Web 2.0 Collaboration

  10. Anonymous says:

    This is our second follow-up regarding our surveys that we have asked you to fill out. To see the…

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