Software // Operating Systems
Commentary
5/8/2013
07:19 PM
Mike Feibus
Mike Feibus
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?

Microsoft's Windows 8 update, Windows Blue, must give PC users a more familiar way to work. Microsoft used to manage transitions better -- instead of opening the door for its rivals.

8 Things Microsoft Could Do To Save Windows 8
8 Things Microsoft Could Do To Save Windows 8
(click image for slideshow)
For more than a month now, the unrelenting flood of news, gossip and opinion surrounding Windows 8 has been focused on Windows Blue, the code name for the upcoming Windows 8 refresh, and what it can do to repair the ailing PC platform.

This week, finally, Microsoft formally acknowledged Windows Blue and confirmed that the Windows 8 follow-on, which comes closer to a service release than an all-new Windows version, will make its way to the market by year's end.

Bloggers already have spent weeks combing through the various leaked builds of the upcoming refresh and exposing new features, performance enhancements and UI improvements. Company representatives haven't yet confirmed any of those discoveries, saying only that Microsoft has been listening closely to customer feedback and will be giving a full-on demonstration at Microsoft's Build 2013 developer conference at the end of June.

[ What else can Microsoft do to mollify Windows users? Windows Blue: Restoring The Start Button Isn't Enough. ]

The tech press has been fixated on discerning just how closely Microsoft has been listening. Indeed, it has written so much lately with so little to go on from Microsoft that the coverage has taken on the tenor of an Access Hollywood report before a Kardashian wedding.

I'm making light, but in many ways the onslaught of articles is justifiable. Certainly, it underscores just how much is riding on Windows Blue. With all the hype and glitz surrounding smartphones and tablets, it's easy to lose sight of how critical a role the PC still plays in many of our lives. No, it's not the same role it played last year, or the year before. But for many of us -- certainly for most of us in IT -- a Windows PC is still a go-to device in our quiver of electronics tools. And because of the pace of change in the enterprise segment, Windows is guaranteed to play a central role for several more years at least.

In that sense, Microsoft isn't just gambling its own fortunes. It's messing with how many of us get things done every day.

That's why the anger over Windows 8 has been so palpable, and why fixing it has become so important. Forcing us to take longer, more circuitous routes to what we do every day feels like starting breakfast one morning only to find that your roommate has rearranged the kitchen. The more often you reach for a fork in what's become the towel drawer, the angrier you get.

If Microsoft is really listening to customers, then Windows Blue will give users a way to do things the way they're used to. Microsoft understood that wisdom back in the early days of Windows, when it used a two-step process to woo Lotus users over to Excel. For years, Microsoft gave diehard Lotus fans their old menus and keystroke combos. So those users came over to Excel. And eventually, those users got to know Excel and they dropped their demands for Lotus commands.

In the same way, Microsoft needs to let customers do things the way they've always done them if it's ever going to engineer a successful migration to its Modern UI. Apparently, though, that institutional knowledge has been lost at Microsoft. When the incumbent forces customers to change in ways they don't want to, as Microsoft has been doing, it opens the doors to competition. Of course, the Mac is always welcoming frustrated Windows users. Some Linux bundlers, successful in the server space, increasingly are setting their sights on the PC client. And now Google is readying an assault on Windows' turf with a new generation of Chromebooks due out in the second half of the year.

A larger desktop tile on the Start screen, as Windows Blue reportedly has, won't placate long-time Windows users. Microsoft will have to give folks who have no use for tiles a way to work the way they do now. If Microsoft doesn't do this, users will keep seeing red -- until, eventually, this issue won't be important to them any more.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
<<   <   Page 5 / 5
AustinAnalyst
50%
50%
AustinAnalyst,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2013 | 6:20:09 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
Cool. Is there anybody that builds these for others ?
sanderson94518
50%
50%
sanderson94518,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2013 | 5:48:16 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
My configuration is two high res displays. Windows 8
is useless on a dual monitor setup. The Metro, Modern, name de jour
tablet interface does NOT support two displays. The user is first presented
with the Tiled interface on the primary display and the classic desktop on the
second display. In addition, the navigation becomes near impossible when
trying to hover over any of the four corners or side bar when there are two
displays as the hot spots are too hard to hit. The mouse just moves between
the primary and the secondary unless you have the dexterity to accurately
position the mouse. Don't force a tablet interface to users who are
accustom to dual displays. Just give us
the simple option to boot directly into Classic mode and leave the tablet/touch
interface for touch based laptops, convertibles, and tablets.
GChiasson
50%
50%
GChiasson,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2013 | 5:42:58 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
Agreed, a few months ago we installed two Windows 8 desktops used by order entry and a documentation person. No touch monitors. Not one complaint, and I make a point of asking the users when I'm in. I'm not sure they even know about the start screen. Yes I pinned Outlook, Word and Excel to the task bar but I did this for Windows 7 users too because most clerical users didn't know how to do this in Windows 7 either.
AustinAnalyst
50%
50%
AustinAnalyst,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2013 | 5:40:20 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
"Microsoft used to manage transitions better"
eg. Windows ME, Windows Vista, Windows 8 ?

What is to become of Windows 7 which is a stable, secure OS ? My problem with Microsoft I also have with Apple. When the new OS is released, the "old" version becomes difficult to find or costs more to "downgrade" on new computers. Apple is especially problematic because of processor requirements for "new" OS's. Then again, Apple is a hardware vendor too. Is that the direction Microsoft is going ?
bwalker970
50%
50%
bwalker970,
User Rank: Strategist
5/9/2013 | 5:36:36 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
Microsoft has not managed transitions well in the past so why should this time be even better? Microsoft has a poor record of transitioning their portfolio. They simply do not know how to evolve a products. Rather, they aspire to revolution. Just looking at Windows releases, we can recall the controversies that surrounded Windows 95, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. There are people still using Windows XP who refuse to migrate to any of the more recent releases. The leading emphasis for all product releases is new features and that often means forcing the user to do things differently, but not necessarily better. If Microsoft were to focus first on user experience, we would not be having this conversation.
mbrunetti460
50%
50%
mbrunetti460,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2013 | 5:34:28 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
I run the Mac OS on my PC. I've been doing it for several years. As a developer, I'd rather deal with a Unix foundation and be able to use a native Unix shell, but I don't like the available Linux UI's. Just search the web for "Hackintosh" and you find what you need. I use Tonymac's stuff. To run Windows programs, use Parallels or Fusion. So I'm using a PC, running Mac OSX Mountain Lion (10.8.3) and virtualizing a PC! It's a wonderful world.
Laurianne
50%
50%
Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
5/9/2013 | 5:31:19 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
"The more often you reach for a fork in what's become the towel drawer, the angrier you get." That is a classic analogy, Mike. And I am sure many readers can relate to it.

Laurianne McLaughlin
InformationWeek
AustinIT
50%
50%
AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2013 | 5:28:13 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
I completely agree with you. It is largely the tech press and fanboys of other platforms that are beating down on Microsoft over Win8. This creates an even bigger problem because of all the intellectualy lazy people who parrot the "bad news" as if they were some sort of expert on the subject.

Win8 is better than Win7. It's a new product that introduces the new Modern UI while keeping the legacy support in place. Yes, it's a bit different but is easy to learn and you quickly get used to the changes. For those who just can't sleep at night, 8.1 should make those crybabies happier.

Microsoft has always walked on a double edged sword... if they don't innovate they get slammed. If they change anything significant, they get slammed. If they drop legacy support, they get slammed. Personnaly, I think they have maintained the best of both worlds for quite some time.
DDURBIN1
50%
50%
DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
5/9/2013 | 5:22:49 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
When Vista arrived there were 8 or 9 versions. The top version, Ultimate, was over $600 while the bottom version was $250. Too many versions, too expensive, and no backward compatibility. Win7 fixed all these. Now Win8 has only one version. Maybe its time to have a desktop version and another for touch devices.
Somedude8
50%
50%
Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
5/9/2013 | 5:02:25 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
I have no issues with Windows 8, and don't know anyone who falls in to the "anger over Windows 8" category. The only people I hear from that seem really bent out of shape over Windows 8 are the tech columnists!
I am not saying that Windows 8 is without issues; I believe some concern is warranted. BUt I also think that the tech writer community has gone overboard here, hyping the problems much like, well, Access Hollywood before a Kardashian wedding.
I have read and enjoyed other articles by the author, some really good stuff. I am not blaming him for Win8 hate hype, but would like to see a bit less of the articles with names like "What can MS do to save Windows?" and similar.
<<   <   Page 5 / 5
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Must Reads Oct. 21, 2014
InformationWeek's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of digital strategy. Learn why you should learn to embrace DevOps, how to avoid roadblocks for digital projects, what the five steps to API management are, and more.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
A roundup of the top stories and trends on InformationWeek.com
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.