Expect Long Waits to Get Microsoft's Help With Windows 10 Upgrade

NEWS ANALYSIS: The popularity of the Windows 10 upgrade means that there are a lot of questions and long waits for Microsoft to answer them.

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Windows 10 Help Wait 2

When I called Microsoft to ask about an unexpected screen when I tried to log on to Windows 10 on a freshly upgraded computer, I already knew there would be a wait.

Still, it was a surprise when the computerized voice on the other end of the line said that I could expect a call back in 465 minutes—which is just less than 8 hours. A quick calculation told me that I would get a call back from tech support in the middle of the night.

Sure enough, when I got into my office the next morning, there were two voicemail messages waiting. Both were the automated voice from Microsoft letting me know that I'd received my return call just before midnight. So the next day, I tried again, and this time I was given a call-back time about six hours into the future.

The time came and went, and there was no call. I left work, and the call eventually came in, again late at night and again, long after the time it was promised.

Eventually, I realized that I might skip some of the long wait if I called the number that came with my paid support contract for Windows. But those times were just as far into the future as the free tech support. Meanwhile, my computer continued to boot into something called the "Error Recovery Mode." Fortunately, I'd been able to get past this on my own to get my work done.

Another light dawned a week or so later, and this time I got up early, called the tech support number before breakfast, and was rewarded with a promise to call back in less than an hour. So I made some toast, scrambled my eggs and fortified myself with caffeine before heading into the office. The long-sought call came in a little over an hour.

Unfortunately, the technician wasn't able to solve the problem, but promised a call from a Level 2 tech the next day at 1 p.m. Eastern Time. That call never came. Neither did another promised call, nor another. But the delays continued. So I started checking around to see if I was the only person having these problems, or if everyone was experiencing the same long delays for Windows 10 tech support.

Microsoft maintains a support community and there are other support communities as wells as message boards, all with the same sad tale. The wait times for Windows 10 tech support were incredibly long. It wasn't just me.

So what's going on here? Did Microsoft misjudge the number of problems people would encounter in their Windows 10 upgrades? Was there something wrong with Windows 10 that they weren't telling us about?

Probably not. As of the end of last week, about 75 million Windows 7 and Windows 8 computers had been upgraded to Windows 10. Because of the vast variety of devices that work with Windows, it's a certainty that there would be at least a small percentage that would have troubles.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...