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article imageOp-Ed: Behind Windows 10 – A return to good user functionality, or what?

By Paul Wallis     Sep 30, 2014 in Technology
Sydney - After the general loathing of Windows 8, Microsoft has moved with unseemly haste to crank up the new OS, formerly known as Windows 9, now to be called Windows 10. The question is whether real users will like it, not whether its PR sways the public.
The Microsoft To-Do list is getting longer. A lot of problems have never been addressed.
These problems are all functional:
• The seemingly endless march to compulsory new systems every two years isn’t popular. It’s expensive, it’s a very annoying process, and few consumers or experts enthuse about “Yet Another System Whether You Need It Or Not”. Replacing perfectly good functional systems with things that don’t even necessarily perform as well isn’t an achievement, it’s a nuisance.
• Nor has the “dump everything and compulsorily reload your stuff on the new system” motif made a lot of friends. It’s merely ridiculous and time consuming. Don’t the people who made the policy use computers themselves?
• The following “everything must be mobile” fad, which completely ignored real world user needs, didn’t help a lot, either. Windows simply failed to capture the tablet and phone markets. People usually work in buildings, Microsoft, with a lot of paraphernalia, like offices, attached.
• The perennial “Windows slows down after a while” problem has never even been mentioned as part of the official design policy, either. Apple fixed that issue from day one, Windows hasn’t, 20 years later.
• Internet Explorer is a serious security risk. It hasn’t been safe for years.
• Favorite software which routinely becomes dysfunctional with each new Windows system is a real cost and a real annoyance for consumers. There’s no real reason this software shouldn’t function. It’s old tech, it’s easy to run.
• Microsoft used to provide a lot of services, including the very useful Windows Live cleanup and fix facility. Now, you have to search forever on the support page to find anything, and then guess whether it works.
Consumers have a lot to be irritated about, not least of which is that “their” brand keeps shooting itself in the foot. At one stage, Microsoft captured the imagination. Now it merely captures people who are habitual Windows users.
ZD net has a theory:
Traditionally, enterprise customers will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid updates, which is why XP managed to live so many years past its sell-by date. The latest round of update problems is sure to give that contingent more ammunition.
The solution? Find a way to keep the majority of customers moving ahead at the new rapid cadence while not frightening off the conservative business buyers who pay most of the bills.
Ah… No. Customers need to take it one step further, and push back this ridiculous and highly expensive process. Who makes money out of new system releases? Consumers sure don’t. Even Microsoft doesn’t, at least not for things like Vista and Windows 8 and the plague of “new” products which were actually catch-up products.
Businesses need to push back the added cost of new OS and software, too. Imagine having to update your entire business software, every time someone feels like putting out a new OS. It’s not quite that bad in practice, but it does sooner or later involve added costs. People simply don’t update until they have to, which means the process as it is now is largely self-defeating.
(New product queues, schmeues. So a few thousand people line up to buy a product. You’re selling to billions of people, not just a few photogenic extras, remember?)
More importantly, Microsoft needs to focus on user experience, UX, not “U Fools” system functionality standards. This is not an uninformed market, either at consumer or business level. Current UX is a collection of experiences from good to OK to god-awful.
A copywriter’s wish list for Microsoft
I’m a copywriter, among other unwholesome things, and this is what I’d like to write about a new fictional Microsoft OS called “Microsoft Zero”:
New Microsoft Zero OS runs everything
We got your message, folks. We’ve come up with a new OS, Microsoft Zero, which is based entirely on user needs. This system will run on any existing computer, tablet or phone.
The new system includes:
1. Legacy software for running all previous Microsoft products and products made for all previous Microsoft OS. This legacy software will be in all future Microsoft OS products.
2. Built-in Office.
3. Built-in Outlook.
4. Your regular updates for the next 10 years.
5. Retroactive support for previous systems, no time limits. Whether you’re running Windows 95 or Windows 10, just visit or talk to your local Microsoft to get help when you need it.
6. No disk required. Simply download the new system, and keep all your old stuff. Microsoft Zero will keep your settings as they are.
7. System speed starts fast and remains fast.
8. Free Cloud storage of 20GB for all system users.
9. Fully compatible with Apple computers.
10. Works with all mobile systems.
11. Usual Microsoft license, just register online.
12. Price: $100 through Microsoft or any retailer on Earth.
This is the new no-fuss, no-nonsense Microsoft System Zero. Just download and run. We think you’ll like it. Tell us what you think.
The joke, such as it is, is that this is all very easily doable. It’d save Microsoft a fortune, and consumers a lot of time and effort. Far less bureaucracy, more consumer engagement on bottom line issues, and includes a good range of instant values built in for customers.
The other joke is a bit funnier. It has to happen, sooner or later. Cost and economic efficiencies always gravitate to the bottom line. Something to look forward to, the only question is when.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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