Microsoft scores a bullseye with Windows 10: Why familiarity can foster change
The Windows 10 Insider Program is well under way and we’ve been working hard to keep you abreast of all the latest news and tutorials in the Windows 10 world. I wanted to take this time to talk about Windows 10 and give you my opinion on why I think Microsoft finally got it right.
Let’s face it, Microsoft had a hard time with Windows 8. Microsoft had the right idea but failed on getting consumers to jump on board the bandwagon. In my opinion, in order for Microsoft to create the change they want in the Windows ecosystem (which is to bridge the gap between touch and non-touch), they must first ensure consumers have something familiar yet excitingly new to work with.
Human beings are naturally resistant to change. There is no denying this statement. Some are against the idea of change while others embrace it, adapt to it with ease. I for one love change. Change brings about a new thought, a new idea, a breath of fresh air and can lead to a success or failure of a company or product.
However, I firmly believe that change should be gradual and in a somewhat familiar aspect, especially when you are affecting a product that consumers utilize worldwide.
“Microsoft took a huge risk with Windows 8”
With that being said, Microsoft took a huge risk with Windows 8. The Redmond giant embarked on a new journey that featured a convergence between tablet/notebook devices and desktop devices. With the introduction and up until the general availability of Windows 8 back in 2012, Microsoft created change in the Windows ecosystem. It was something new and exciting.
Unfortunately, Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system has been deemed controversial since its inception, with some consumers loving the touch-centric change while some consumers believing the operating system was a step towards the wrong direction.
I personally believed Windows 8 was a step in the right direction – albeit Microsoft should have been a bit more gradual with the massive focus on touch. Windows 8.1 came around a year later in 2013 and featured many refinements for mouse/keyboards, but one thing was still missing – familiarity. The idea of having something new and exciting was there, but people weren’t flocking to it.
Change is necessary in life to ensure that we keep moving, growing, and remain interested in something. Picture life, or in this case, a product that never changes. It would eventually become boring, dull, uninteresting.
However, in order to embrace change, I personally believe one must have a bit of familiarity – especially with a product like Windows. I am a creature of habit. I for one feel comfortable hitting the Start button to access the Start menu in order to access the Control Panel or My Computer. As petty as it seems, this feels normal to me. I also like being able to minimize, maximize, and resize any application I have open. This feels right to me.
By adding the Start Screen and removing the Start menu, I felt out of place at first. In fact, I found myself spending a few extra seconds thinking “hmm how do I get to that again.” Eventually I adapted to Windows 8 and adapted to change, but it wasn’t as smooth as I’d wish it was.
However, not everyone is like me. Some people, including friends and relatives of mine, have an issue with change. They completely shunned Windows 8 after a few uses, claiming that it was “too complicated.” Really? I didn’t think so.
But reality check. Everyone is different. Some prefer change and some do not. With Windows 8, Microsoft wanted to take things to a whole new direction by entering a ‘threshold’ that saw a convergence between touch and mouse/keyboard. But the reality is, Microsoft still had work to do to ensure people have an easier time to adapt to such a change.
Sure, one can operate on the idea that you either adapt or die. In nature, this is important. But we are talking about a product. We are talking about Windows. Microsoft has no choice but to succeed or they fail.
So what can Microsoft do, as a company that is trying desperately to come up with something new and exciting for the benefit of continued revenue gains? What can Microsoft do to ensure that consumers latch on to an operating system that fits Microsoft’s idea of “one operating system” to rule them all – tablets, notebooks, and desktops? Well, the answer is simple yet complex. Microsoft needs to introduce change while keeping things familiar. Meet Windows 10.
Meet Windows 10
When the rumors began circulating that Windows 10 (known at the time as Windows 8.1 Update 2 or Windows 9) would see the return of the Start menu, I was not surprised. In fact, the Start menu is the familiarity that many people have been itching for with Windows 8. Sure, you can install third party tools to bring back the Start menu, but it wasn’t a natural feeling.
“the Start menu is the familiarity that many people have been itching for”
Microsoft introduced the world to Windows 10, along with the Windows Insider Program on September 30th of 2014, and with that introduction, Microsoft has taken things to a whole new level again.
This time, Microsoft is focused on further blurring the line between touch and mouse/keyboard. The returning Start menu will surely be something that will help consumers embrace a touch-centric world, while still retaining some of the key features that we are all accustomed to.
After all, I really do appreciate being able to use the Start menu to access my favorite items with ease, just like I am able to do that on an old work computer still running Windows XP or Windows 7. It’s called familiarity. Sure, change is welcome and necessary in this competitive world, but people don’t want to deal with something drastic. It must be gradual.
With Windows 10, consumers have the option of switching between the Start menu and the Start screen. If you prefer the latter, you can easily disable the Start menu. Simple. This offers choice and Microsoft did the right thing by offering it. Love to run apps from the Windows Store? Great, because you can now resize them and treat them like any other window.
Taking things a step further, Microsoft is allowing consumers the ability to provide feedback based on their ideal use of Windows 10. This means you can download and install Windows 10 Technical Preview right now and provide Microsoft with all sorts of feedback on how you believe the operating system should be. This is a fantastic move by the company as it allows them to tailor the operating system to the consumer’s needs and desires. The little things matter and it is nice to see Microsoft paying attention.
Windows 8 unintentionally ignored the enterprise sector with all the touch-first improvements, but clearly Microsoft has shifted gears this time around. The Windows 10 Technical Preview is aimed at the enterprise sector and for them to provide feedback in ensuring an operating system that won’t alienate businesses.
Microsoft can implement its ideology of having a touch/non-touch hybrid operating system to ensure survival in a competitive world, all while ensuring consumers can easily adapt to it.
The future of Windows 10
For those of you testing the Technical Preview of Windows 10, there is still more to experience. Microsoft has yet to roll out Cortana integration, and a few other goodies.
Windows 10 promises to be a fantastic operating system and so far I am pleased with the Technical Preview. In my opinion, Microsoft is simply making Windows better while making it slightly familiar. This will help consumers embrace change and I personally believe Microsoft has a winner right here. Expect to see Windows 10 take off in terms of market share, at least in my opinion.
We’ve yet to see the touch related improvements in Windows 10, as the Technical Preview is geared towards the enterprise. Microsoft is promising an operating system experience just as great with touch devices. The company is also expected to roll out a Consumer Preview of Windows 10 in early 2015.
In a world full of people with different styles, opinions, and behaviors, Microsoft is working diligently to build upon Windows 7, an operating system that is loved by many and still retains a large market share in the Windows ecosystem. Microsoft is also building upon the key features introduced in Windows 8. Microsoft wants to create an operating system that blurs the line between mobile and desktop, touch and non-touch.
Windows 8 was a step in the right direction, but Microsoft missed the mark. Windows 8.1 was a better step in the right direction, but Microsoft was still coming up short. Third time is a charm with Windows 10, as Microsoft has just scored a bullseye. Let’s just hope that by the time Windows 10 is released in 2015, we aren’t disappointed.Further reading: Microsoft, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1