Microsoft has released a statement regarding a Windows 8 OS update called “Windows Blue”, of which we will have more information on by late June 2013. But I’m still not sure how much this would help the company.
When Windows 8 came out in 2012, people approached it with both excitement and trepidation. On the one hand, it was an extremely exciting way to look at operating systems—it meant to bridge the gap between desktop-type computers and touch-based technology. It LOOKED sleek. It LOOKED easy to use. And, because it was produced by Microsoft (which built its reputation on making computers accessible for everybody), many long-time users trusted that getting used to the new OS would be a cinch.
Now, more than half a year later, many people are still complaining about it.
The real issue here
Look, it’s all well and good that Microsoft is trying to better itself by trying to outdo Apple with innovation. I get it. And I say that what it’s tried to do with Windows 8 is admirable at the very least and mind-bogglingly awesome at the very most.
BUT—and this is a really big BUT—it utterly failed to keep in mind that it’s going to be forcing people to figure out how to use it. For a company that made itself known for the user-friendliness of its operating system, this is a very serious misstep. It seemed to have forgotten that the vast majority of the people who actually use Windows are necessarily technically proficient. Many of them are not inclined to troubleshoot the whole thing. And even the tutorial wizard that supposedly comes with the new OS did not help. People like me resorted to Windows 8 for Dummies Cheat Sheets.
It’s slightly humiliating. And it’s more than a little frustrating. Many users felt betrayed by Microsoft by the time New Year came along.
Cautious optimism over Windows Blue
If we look at the supposed changes so far (which thankfully includes the Start Button; something that is sorely missed by almost everybody), the changes seem promising. It sustains the innovativeness of the OS while at the same time making the learning curve for new users less steep. With Windows 8, I had trouble integrating my RingCentral business phone service into the system—and I have to point out that the service is incredibly easy to use with previous Windows incarnation. I’m hoping that this update would rectify that, as well as the overall difficulty in accessing some of the files I’ve downloaded.
Still, even as a person who respects what Microsoft was trying to do, I find it difficult to get over the fact that the company failed a majority of its users when Windows 8 first came out. The things that they’re trying to implement in this update should have been there in the first place. They should have offered people who were comfortable with “the old Windows” some choices. They should have remembered who they were making this for; or at least, they should know who they’re doing this for.
It’s for the people who have supported them all this time. Sure, a huge part of this is for the future of the company. But the future of the company involves BUYERS. Many of whom they’ve alienated.
Is it really too late?
Normally, I would say it was too late the moment they released Windows 8; if only because it showed people that Microsoft has near-complete disregard for the majority of its customers. But the thing is, this has happened a long time ago—with Windows 3, which needed to be updated with Windows 3.1. It turned out okay, and the company can crow all it wants about how proud they are over their ability to listen to their customers.
That said, they STILL caused the problem in the first place. That is nothing to be proud of. You can say what you will about the adage “nothing ventured, nothing gained”, but when your success is hinged on OTHER people you have to make some compromises.
If we’re going to look at history, it might not be too late for Microsoft. But we’re looking at the future now, in which absolute consideration for end users is a factor. And in that context, Windows Blue may have come too late.