Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Emperor's New Clothes

Back in 1997 British band Oasis released their third album "Be Here Now". Oasis were at the time riding a wave of popularity and there was so much excitement about the new album that the British media all gave it decent reviews. But in retrospect it is plain to see that it was a turd. The band were high on cocaine while making it and guitarist Noel Gallagher seemed to think that every extra layer of guitar he added made the record better. The result was a mess.

The hype about the band stopped the media being objective.

I feel the same thing has happened with Windows 8.

Let's be real here. Windows 8 is ridiculous. I can't believe that a company filled with intelligent people released such a thing.

So you have these millions of Windows power users throughout the world. Over years of using Windows they have built up an extensive array of Windows skills, from keyboard short cuts to advanced skills like setting up networking. This experience is not transferable to the Mac and is a big factor keeping people on Windows.

So what do Microsoft do? They release an OS which throws much of that experience in the bin. Now in order to use the modern UI they need to learn a new array of keyboard short cuts and mouse tricks! It would probably by easier to learn to use a Mac!

So Microsoft have just discarded one of the biggest moats around their business.

When I install a new application on Windows I often add a short cut to it on my desktop. In Windows 7 you just find the application on the Start menu, right click on it, Copy and Paste it on the desktop. Easy. When you install something on Windows 8 there is no short cut to copy in desktop mode. I still haven't figured out an easy way to do this. I am sure that there is an easy way but that is not the point. The point is that my years of Windows experience have been wasted.

Most Windows users do not have a touch-enabled screen. And all these users now have to battle their way through a touch interface in order to get their work done. What? Is this how you improve an operating system?

If Microsoft had had someone at the top who thought more about user experience then the Windows 8 concept would have died at birth. Instead they had an MBA who thinks that marketing is the answer to every problem.

This is why Ballmer went. Windows 8 is shocking.

The bizarre thing about the Surface is that it is the software that lets it down. And this from a software company?

For the sake of Microsoft's shareholders let's hope they recruit a CEO who thinks about customer experience.