Google software, flies in the ointment

As discussed in an earlier post I’m embarked on a slow but presumably irreversible journey from “thick” apps to thin ones, from desktop to multiple clients to cloud.

Part of the lure is that most of the software, most of the time, is kind of “nifty”: it’s satisfying, pleasurable, fun to use in a way that I think lies at the heart of successful software.  It feels right.

Google software mostly fits into this category.  I like gmail a lot, I like the rest of the suite.  I haven’t moved over from Office to Google Apps in any major way yet, but it could happen.

But Google doesn’t act like the kind of software company I used to work for.  If something goes wrong, they don’t necessarily man up and they don’t necessarily fix it.

Take my Google Chat voice/video plugin.  I hadn’t used it in a week or so, and when I went to make a call from Chat I got a notice that the plugin needed to be installed.  “That’s funny, it’s already installed,” I said, but went to the screen and pushed the button to install anyhow.  Nothing happened.  I can’t make a call and I can’t re-install.

I find getting to Help in google software to be very problematic, but I found some kind of help search screen somewhere behind my profile photo and searched for help on this topic.  Nothing.

I then do what I do nowadays with most cloud software, Google-d the  broad we for it.  Found some threads, but nothing official.

Finally I found a reference to a “known issues” notice in Google help (why it wasn’t discoverable by search I daren’t ask the search king) and find out that this plugin problem is a known problem and Google is working “hard” to resolve it.

Now I know that Google doesn’t always live up to their “do no evil” stuff, but telling me that my help query was, in effect, “very important to us” was a nasty reminder that Google’s main effort here was to keep disruption of their operations by us needy users to a minimum.

All very American-business-as-usual-in-the-teens, but with a wrinkle: a cloud company has no main number to call, no Vice President of Customer Service to write.  I can only step up the game, as I’m doing now, by complaining about them online.

I wish they were more accountable.

Your thoughts?


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