The Open Source community has known for ages that making it easy for users to file bugs and feature requests is a great way of making sure that not only are more bugs noticed, but that the bugs which actually annoy users take priority over those which never crop up in real life. For a little while now, MS has been doing the same – although the world can be forgiven for barely noticing. The MSDN Product Feedback Center isn’t exactly hidden in a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of the Leopard”, but it’s not far off. It’s on the MSDN lab which has a label at the top saying “MSDN Lab projects are experimental and may be removed without notice”. That’s not exactly encouraging when it comes to taking the time to file a bug report.
However, a few MS managers have now emphasised that this way of reporting bugs is really important to them. The entries end up in the internal bugs database which developers use – and importantly, if a bug is found and regarded as important by a customer during (say) beta test, that’s much more likely to be able to get through the red tape required for a late change than one which is found internally. If you’re an MVP, there’s an added bonus that your bugs are automatically regarded as “valid” and so they’re even more likely to be fixed.
I should point out that only bugs/requests with respect to certain products can be entered at the moment – but the list is likely to grow, I suspect. Anyway, the important thing is that it’s there, it’s pretty easy to use, and it makes a difference – so use it!