Microsoft Still Doesn’t Get It

Today’s blog is my diatribe against the mediocre execution of creating a better user experience.

Windows 10.

While under the hood many things of Windows 10 are reportedly a vast improvement, I must admit I’m not a fan and tempted to revert to Windows 7.

First and foremost, I dislike the Metro look. Might be fine on a phone or a small tablet, but with the rich palette of colors available, to me it’s a step backward to only use 16. I know traditional and classics are in vogue, but I personally don’t like the return to EGA.

The new Start Menu is a compromise. “Yep, we’ll bring the Start Menu back but we’re going to make it ugly. And change the way it looks because…we think it’s better. And all those icons you’re familiar with? We’re going to change those too.”

As a comparison, I hated the change from Office 2003 to Office 2007 and the new menu ribbon. I was pretty adept at Word, Excel and PowerPoint 2003 and had a good grasp of what was where. When Office 2007 came out they rearranged all the menus and things were grouped differently! I still find there are features I have to search for in Office 365 that I knew how to do perfectly in 2003.

One thing that Apple and Steve Jobs brought to the computer universe is the user experience. A device that seems to intuitively know what you’re going to do and is laid out so you can perform those functions easily.

Every major Windows upgrade goes against that. I find I’m proficient at certain things in the OS or app, and then upgrade to the latest release and find everything’s been shuffled and re-shuffled and I have to go through a learning curve to find where everything is. Why?

Another thing I don’t like about Windows 10 is each time the screen flickers to life there’s a new picture displayed. That tells me that Microsoft is controlling what’s on my pc. Other privacy issues abound with Windows 10, making me feel like it’s not my computer. Perhaps that’s where Microsoft is going—you own the hardware but you’re just logging in to Microsoft to perform your work.

From what I’ve read, I get the idea that Microsoft tries really hard. They have brilliant people and they love working there. As a user of Microsoft products, I shake my head in dismay. I’m wed to them because of the need to be compatible with the company I work for and I’ve got too many software programs I don’t want to pay to replace.

But they don’t get it. They seem to change stuff for the sake of change and think it looks good. Do they really study user reactions in their test clinics? Does anyone upgrading from Windows 7 like the tiles in the Start Menu, the plethora of junk I didn’t ask for populating it? Does anyone like the look of bland program icons against a stark background? Does anyone like the reshuffling of menus when trying to change things like the theme, the resolution, removing programs, etc.?

When Windows 7 came out, I liked it. For the most part, the migration to 7 from XP wasn’t too bad. It took some time and practice to find things I was used to in XP that had moved or changed. I liked getting the Aero look, loved the additional backgrounds, glad the menu changes were more evolutionary than revolutionary.

Windows 10 is a mini-revolution. Some revolution can be good. This revolution I find jarring and problematic. I don’t enjoy sitting down in front of the pc as much as I used to. The Metro look doesn’t work for me, the new format isn’t pleasing, I miss my clock and calendar gadgets. And don’t get me going on the need to download a video player.

I tried a new laptop with Windows 8 two years ago. I took it back because I needed a bigger screen. When I got another, one of the criteria was Windows 7. While Windows 10 is a hybrid between Windows 8 and 7, the UI changes in 10 are…unenjoyable.

Do I suffer through the annoying UI and privacy concerns to get the security and performance of Windows 10, or do I go back to Windows 7 to get the better user experience and privacy, while sacrificing some performance and security?

The real question is, why am I having to make this decision in the first place?

And that is the moral of this story: The User Experience is King. If you want to conquer a market, you need to deliver the goods to the customer–not who you think the customer is. Because otherwise sooner or later someone is going to eat your lunch, even if you are the 80,000lb. gorilla in the room.



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