Finding The Off Switch In Windows 7 - InformationWeek

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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
3/13/2009
07:15 AM
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Finding The Off Switch In Windows 7

People testing early versions of Microsoft's next OS report that they've discovered a way to turn various programs off. I'm still waiting for somebody to tell me what, or who, the next version of Windows turns on.

People testing early versions of Microsoft's next OS report that they've discovered a way to turn various programs off. I'm still waiting for somebody to tell me what, or who, the next version of Windows turns on.Pressure from European regulators (with the overt, helpful encouragement from the likes of Google and Firefox) seems to have forced Microsoft to allow its users the capacity to turn off the IE browser, disable the company's media player, and decline use of the installed hard-drive search program.

This is notable in that those activities are all inflection points for the vast resources of content that promise heretofore unrealized monetization and profits. Otherwise, an OS is just that: an operating system...a closed network of pipes and valves, and a tool for running a machine which, by many accounts, is becoming less a complicated device, and more of a doorway to lots of complicated content, whether floating in the cloud, or buried throughout our households.

You'd think that if using Google, Firefox (or whatever) were such important and useful options, that some enterprising computer hardware-maker would design a box dedicated to those tools. They've done it for Linux. No off boxes required. I bet there are some factories in China looking for the work.

Though I never thought I'd say this, I wonder sometimes if it's fair that Microsoft has to work so hard to disable its products?

I also wonder whether it has contemplated (or might be delivering also) a more combative approach: why not run headlong into inventing reasons why consumers would want to keep those boxes checked? This product is going to live or die based on what it does not just differently, but better, than its competitors. Early signs (you can read some early reports in this magazine) are positive.

If Microsoft could make "default" synonymous with "better," the news won't be about what functionality can get turned off. Those EU regulators would really go nuts. So would consumers, for a change.

Jonathan Salem Baskin writes the Dim Bulb blog and is the author of Branding Only Works On Cattle.

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