Microsoft: How not to do an update?

Yesterday Microsoft released an update to Windows Live Essentials, notable in that we haven’t seen a significant update to the software suite in over a year.  Although the update was announced on the Windows Experience blog (and remember: Windows Live Essentials is now part of the Windows Org, so if you’re looking for info on Windows Live, go to the Windows Experience blog.  However, if you’re looking for info on Microsoft SkyDrive or Microsoft Hotmail, which are not using the Windows Live moniker anymore, go to the Inside Windows Live blog.  Got that?), virtually no information was included as to what was being updated, other than this single sentence:

This minor release includes numerous updates across all of the programs in the Essential package, including Windows Live Messenger, Mail, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Family Safety, Writer, and Mesh.

No changelog, no details, nothing.  Well it didn’t take long to fill the comments with what appeared to be a now broken Live Mesh (for example this comment by “Davidacoder”):

Same here, the updates messes up mesh entirely, it wants to redownload EVERY single file in every folder I have but is actually not doing anything. What a buggy update. Advice to anyone: don’t install at this point, wait until they fix this. I hope you will not push this version out via auto update to everyone. What’s up with quality control?? At this point I am really wondering whether the Live division is up to the task of providing the infrastructure for Win8 clould stuff…

It turns out that Live Mesh isn’t really broken, but is just re-indexing your entire sync store.  If you’re like a lot of Live Mesh users (and part of the problem is that there aren’t many Live Mesh users), you have a lot of files synced, and that takes a while.  Here’s an explanation belatedly posted on the Windows Live Solution Center, and linked in a comment from the Windows Experience blog post:

Yesterday we released an update to Mesh in response to feedback we’ve received from many of our customers. This update addresses many of their top issues – particularly those resulting in a crash or trouble syncing certain files. A side effect of this update is it causes Mesh to rebuild its index of what files need to be synced and where. As a result, it takes a bit of time for this process to happen.

For most users this process takes just a few minutes. But if you sync many GBs of data, this process can take upwards of several hours. Before the index has been rebuilt, Mesh will start to re-sync your files across computers. Once the index has been rebuilt on each computer, Mesh will realize that your files are already present at which point subsequent file downloads/uploads will stop. Then Mesh’s status will appear as “up to date”.

No action on the user’s part is required for this process to complete. It just takes time and patience. If this does not auto-resolve after one day (for extreme cases) please let us know. We apologize for the inconvenience or concern this has caused some customers. We genuinely care about your experience with our product and will continue to monitor the forum for additional issues.
-Windows Live Mesh team

Really, Microsoft, is it that hard to provide a change log and to give us some details on what for many has been a broken experience, especially when you only ship once (or less) a year?  Sheesh.