A Case For Meaningful Error Messages…
Up until recently, I have been a very casual gamer. With my back injury I’ve had more time to get on and do gaming to keep my mind occupied and as such, I broke out my old Xbox 360 and never could get it to log in to my Microsoft account.
So, I decided the time was nigh to get a new Xbox One S and that system logged straight into my Microsoft Live account with NO trouble whatsoever!
So after playing Fortnite for a few days, never surviving long enough to score a kill (lol), I returned to the 360 that I intend on keeping. I wanted to download a 360 game (Fruit Ninja!) and get past the infernal credentials error I kept seeing.
The maddening part of this is the extremely unfriendly error message sets that Xbox (and most Microsoft products in general) displays to end users. And these codes are watered down to the point that these don’t really provide any benefit to end users. The ancient and pointless help guides Microsoft produces are just as bad.
I tried the recommended practices. Purging cache, disabling and reloading system updates, power-cycles… basically, all the stupid things some help desk ninja in Bombay would be telling me in a tired voice and wishing I would commit sepaku so they could move on.
It was at this point my past IT experience called on me to look at the language I was getting. The key words were “Credential Error”. This lone clue made me ask “What is the maximum password length a XBox 360 can handle?”
As it turns out, the limit is 16 characters. And I reset my password and voila! All was well! My 360 was finally able to speak Xbox-Livish and all was good in my world!
But then, as King Theoden of Rohan fixed his eye upon his tormentors after being freed, my mind became furious with the prison I had been held in when a simple error message in ENGLISH would have solved the problem! Better yet, the Microsoft Accounts site should warn users or even better, the 360 should receive a patch to allow for passwords longer than 16 characters!
C’mon Microsoft! This is a easy fix! And there are literally thousands of people who have been affected by this trap that you could so easily repair?
And while you are at it, make it a company priority to purge all the old literature off the web that is misleading and use wikis that allow the public to help write the answers for your product error messages. And while you are at it, update your products with plain English messages! For God’s sakes! It isn’t hard to do… It just takes action.