Microsoft was keen to emphasize the importance of their Windows Insider program last Wednesday at the Windows 10 consumer story event, including a video from engineers who thanked Windows Insiders for their feedback and suggestions. Yesterday on Microsoft earnings call it was reported Windows Insiders are now 2 million strong. After the event on the 21st there was a surge of new sign ups to test new builds of Windows 10. While this engagement shows consumers are interested in Windows, it can also be a curse where change is fought and the old way is trumpeted.
Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” and this sentiment still rings true today. When Microsoft released Windows 8 which focused on touch and apps users were furious because their old mouse keyboard systems didn’t work well with the new paradigm. Now with Windows 10 Microsoft reiterates how they listen to their customers to make the best OS ever, by pointing to the Start Menu, Windows Apps, and more. The question must be asked, how much is too much feedback.
Could Windows 10 become Frankenstein’s Monster where Microsoft recklessly incorporates popular feedback? Hopefully not, but there are other examples of Microsoft soliciting feedback for their products and incorporating every suggestion, in Office. Microsoft went through a redesign of their Office UI with the introduction of the ribbon which replaced the standard dropdown menus. At first users freaked out about the big change, but over time most have come to love the ribbon. The rational behind the change was users kept suggesting features which already existed, so Microsoft had to make a change to surface the features and tools in Office.
Windows 10 could be in a similar situation where users continue to suggest solutions which already exist in Windows, or are simply a call for the return of the old way. Microsoft needs to balance feedback with a sober understanding of how technology is changing. Choice is the primary means of combating whiny users who insist the old way was/is better than the new way. Microsoft lets users change defaults across Windows 10 so users can hone their experience exactly to their liking.