Sometimes it seems as though you can do right for doing wrong; that’s certainly the way it seems for Microsoft a lot of the time. I will admit to sticking the boot into Microsoft from time to time — I am as guilty of this as anyone — but sometimes it is important to look at the bigger picture, gain a little perspective and cut the company a little slack. In a tirade on his website, Paul Thurrott lays into Microsoft asking “what the heck is happening to Windows?”
There is a great deal happening to Windows, and it has been happening for the last couple of years. There have been ups and downs. Paul points out that Windows 8 was widely regarded as being a failure, and it is true that it was a disappointment for many people — and Microsoft will hardly have been celebrating the sales figures.
He goes on to say that detractors complained that the release of Windows 8.1 was seen as a step backwards. While it is true that Windows 8.1 is still not a perfect operating system, it was a step in the right direction. Now it seems that Thurrott has had a change of heart and the release of Update 1 is causing him to question his initial defense of Windows. The accusation? That Microsoft is trying to please everyone.
Is it not right that Microsoft should listen to its customers?
Looking at the combination of the traditional desktop and modern UI some complaints are easy to understand. On the face of it, Windows 8 lacked direction. It was unwilling to nail its colors to the mast and presented users with a hybrid experience that was just too much for some to bear. Things improved with the release of 8.1 as Microsoft listened to the complaints users had made. Yet this appears to be a problem for Thurrott.
Is it not right that Microsoft — or any company for that matter — should listen to its customers? This is what Update 1 is about, addressing further issues that have been raised. But this is not good enough for Thurrott. He would prefer that Microsoft stuck to a “singular vision that is typically associated with the Mac and Apple’s other products”. As a customer I would much rather a company took notice of what I had to say rather than just telling me how things are going to be.
The ability, and willingness, to respond to demands is the sign of a forward-thinking, progressive company. Microsoft took a bold step with Windows 8 and it turned out that people weren’t quite ready for such a radical departure from what they had become used to. Did Microsoft stick doggedly to its “singular vision”? No, this would have alienated users. Instead Microsoft did the sensible thing and did what too many companies fail to do. It listened.
Thurrott complains that Windows 8 is evolving in a spaghetti-like fashion and there are now — as there have always been — multiple ways to achieve the same thing. This is not a bad thing. It is choice. For me, the modern interface doesn’t work. I don’t like it, so I don’t use it. But there’s another side of Windows that works very well for me, so I use that instead. Even within desktop mode there are multiple ways to do the same task. Want to create a new folder? This can be done using keyboard shortcuts, context menus or toolbar buttons. They are options that you can use as the mood takes you.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with presenting users with choice, and there is even less wrong with listening to them and adopting Windows to meet requirements. The claim that Microsoft is “trying to please everyone” is one that sticks. Of course Microsoft wants as many people as possible to like and use Windows — this just makes sense — and it follows that their product would be adapted as deemed necessary.
Would you prefer that Microsoft had tunnel vision with Windows, or are you happy to see changes being made according to customer feedback?Further reading: Microsoft, Windows 8.1