Microsoft just released Windows 10 technical preview in the hopes of regaining its reputation, remediating its mistakes and repairing its wrongs. I’m here to tell you why that move was futile.
First let’s think about the name.
The number 10 is so round and tidy.
- We have 10 fingers.
- Math in base ten is always easier than other bases and
- Everyone knows scoring a perfect 10 out of 10 denotes perfection.
But Windows 10 is far from perfection. So why did Microsoft skip nine and jump to 10?
- Maybe to create the illusion of greatness
- Maybe to hint that Windows 10 is big.
- Maybe to keep pace with Mac OS X. After all, 9 is one less than the the roman number equivalent of 10.
But I’ve got to ask: is Windows 10 really that great?
When Microsoft released Windows XP back in the early 90’s everyone was rhapsodizing about how great it was. The operating system was generally stable and enjoyed ubiquitous acclaim from both professionals and laypeople. Both businesses and busy bodies loved the look and feel of XP.
XP was a winner.
In fact, it was so stable that it endured for over a decade after its inception. According to September 2014 statistics from netmarketshare.com, XP consumes a 23.87% chunk out of the operating system market share pie.
Windows XP beats Windows 8, 8.1 and Vista and is only subordinate to Windows 7 which is at 52.71%.
Contrary to what some people want to believe, XP ain’t dead yet and some companies have worked around the end of service patch limitations by hacking Windows XP to deliver updates until 2019.
Windows XP has a coterie of adherents who would wouldn’t be caught dead selling out to Windows 7 or that blasted other operating system known as Windows 8.
Windows XP was stellar because Windows XP was stable.
It was compatible with peripherals and extremely intuitive to use. Windows Vista reversed the success of Windows XP but then Windows 7 fixed things and made it right. (as evidence by my little pie chart above)
Hate on Windows 8
With the advent of Windows 8, Microsoft positively confused almost all its customers with an operating system that seemed to have a split personality. It’s as if it didn’t know what it wanted to be.
Am I built for tablet users or people with traditional laptops?
It’s like Microsoft was facing an identity crisis and it embroiled Windows 8 in the confusion. It was a disaster.
Windows 8 should have never happened. Most people were okay with Windows until Windows 8 arrived. I contend that Windows 8 was the catalyst for once loyal fans fleeing to competitors such as Apple and Linux.
Windows 10 is the answer to the wrong question
Microsoft isn’t responding to the right question. The question isn’t how do we appeal to both tablets and desktops. Nor is the question how do we undo all the damage we created with Windows 8.
Most people don’t care about the answers to those questions. Users are really concerned with three issues as it relates to prior versions of Windows:
- Where did everything go?
- How do I get stuff done?
- Will it work with my old things?
First let’s talk about familiarity.
Where did everything go?
I’ve been using PC’s most of my adult life and therefore feel very comfortable with them. I’m conversant with the basic stuff such as using Windows Explorer, browsing the web and checking emails but I can also hang with power users who like hacking the registry, tweaking the command prompt and making sure computers are safe.
Whenever someone encounters a new operating system people are usually concerned about the changes from previous versions.
The thinking goes something like this:
In Windows 7 I was able to launch such and such application by going to this place but in Windows 8 I can’t even find that place. What gives?
Here’s my point: If a company makes it difficult for laypeople to use a product people simply won’t use the product.
We know from psychology and common experience that people are generally adverse to change (even when its for the better). Humans like routine.
It doesn’t mean we’re boring but it does mean we like the comfort of knowing that when we must learn something new it will pay off for a long time. We don’t like having to learn something new again just to maintain the same level of productivity we held before the change.
Now, I’ve got to be honest with you: Windows 8 is the first operating system that I literally gasped atwhen I saw it.
What the hell?
It was so foreign, so juvenile, so silly looking.
The jumbo, variegated Start Screen tiles looked too playful to ever make their way into the Enterprise and the hidden desktop was hard to find.
I couldn’t help but ask:
Where did everything go?
Every time you make your customer ask such a question you alienate him or her and make that person less inclined to use your product. Windows 8 simply had to many “Were did everything go?” statements in my mind and therefore was on the precipice of failure.
But then Microsoft released Windows 8.1.
Ohhhh the lovely dot release. We jumped a tenth of a point from Windows 8.0 to Windows 8.1 and what did we get? Sure things got a little better. You could now boot to desktop and there were a few other bells and whistles but ultimately the changes were a bit underwhelming.
After Windows 8.1 stepped onto the stage, most people weren’t rhapsodizing about Windows 8.1 – no they were fumbling to figure it out and they were still beleaguered by that age old question:
Where did everything go?
Well just a few days ago, Microsoft released Microsoft Windows 10 and I’ve been playing with it in Virtual Box since its inception. Now that I’ve been playing with it for over a week, my question is: why is this thing called Windows 10 and not Windows 8.2?
You can’t just bring the Start Menu back and then skip a full number release to 10. It almost feels as if Microsoft is chasing Mac OS X. I’m surprised Microsoft didn’t call Windows 10, Windows X…
Windows 10 is tantamount to a company releasing a product that has a popular feature but then, in the next release, it removes that feature and pisses everyone off. So in the third release it adds it back and then calls it a new feature.
Yes, I’m throwing jabs at the Windows 10 Start Menu.
Here’s a freaking news flash: if you add something that you previously removed – that’s not called innovation; it’s called covering up a fuck up. You can’t make a mistake and then release a new version, without that mistake, and call it something grand by skipping an entire version number.
But the illogical release name isn’t the chief of my concerns- productivity is.
How do I get stuff done?
Think about this: what do people use computers for in the first place? What was the purpose of the personal computer?
It was to get things done. Thus, the easier you make it for people to get things done the more industrious they’ll become and the more likely they’ll purchase products from you in the future.
Everyone knows from basic business that existing customers are a lot easier to retain than new ones but it seems that Microsoft is ostracizing its loyal fans by making it harder for them to be productive.
People use PC’s to get stuff done. Sure, people want to be entertained but most people who want entertainment look to a Smart TV or video game console before looking to a PC.
On a side note, I still can’t figure out why Microsoft yanked (or completely refreshed) all the classic games we all grew to love in Windows 98 such as Minesweeper and Solitaire. But that’s another post for another day.
My point is that although Windows 10 has many improvements such as virtual desktops and floating modern apps that you can dock like normal programs, I still wonder how effective these changes will be in making people productive.
Microsoft has gotten better with driver compatibility but still seems more volatile than most Linux and Mac OS X machines. How can you be productive when your computer is constantly crashing and barfing up arcane error messages that look like this:
Sure you can Google it but then you’ll see forums with a bunch of other confused people asking the same questions. Sometimes you can fix this stuff by rebooting, re-installing software or installing updates but in general most (but not all) Macs and Linux computers aren’t susceptible to these problems.
Just as adapting to changes from older versions of Windows is inimical to productivity so is trying to make sense of obscure errors when the OS crashes.
If you’ve never used Windows before then going directly to Windows 10 won’t be as troublesome; however, if you’ve moved from Windows XP, Vista or 7 to Windows 10 you’ll be in for so much disappointment that, depending on your technical acumen, you probably won’t get any substantive work done for a few days.
Because you’re going to be spending all that time on Google trying to figure out how to use the stupid operating system.
And this brings me to the last question.
Will it work with my old things?
Most people are curious. They think:
I was using an older version of Windows just fine but now Microsoft is coercing the upgrade. Fine. I don’t have a choice but will the upgrade break my printer? Will the upgrade break Microsoft Office? Will the upgrade render my removable drive useless?
In other words, will my old things continue to work with Windows 10?
Well…. maybe, maybe not.
It depends on the peripherals you’re trying to connect and, given the mercurial nature of the OS, I can’t promise you that it’ll work.
The Bottom Line
If Microsoft wants to shake up the world it shouldn’t resort to fooling the public with silly versioning schemes.
Let’s face it: Windows 10 is just Windows 8 with more makeup on its face.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is deceived or just plain loony.
If Microsoft wants to thrive it should provide the right answer to the right questions.
It can start by actually listening to and implementing user feedback. I know the monolithic company claims to listen to its customers and evinced that truth when it returned the Start Menu based on customer demand; however, it’s too little to late.
Microsoft needs to completely revamp the way it works. Customers are on the periphery and aren’t at the nexus of business operations. Our voices are heard as echos instead of in the meeting room.
After all, isn’t it because of us; because of you, because of me – that Microsoft is the multibillion dollar company that it is today?
That’s the real question isn’t it? Microsoft owes its success to us and unless we coalesce into a single voice for change, Microsoft will continue to build it’s idea of what Windows 10 should be.
The easiest way to express your concerns is to:
- Join the Windows Insider Program
- Get Windows 10 technical preview
- Press the Start Menu and type: windows feedback
I know it’s lame that you need to sign up to complain but hey I’m not the CEO of Microsoft. If I were – that wouldn’t be the case.
So what do you think about Windows 10? Is it worthy of the name? What do you think Microsoft is trying to achieve?
Sound off in the comments!