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What Microsoft needs to do to Windows

I’m a long time Windows user, I’ve been using it since Windows 3.11 (Windows for Workgroups), before that I came from an Amiga Intuition and Atari ST Gem UI background. During my growing up with technology I have used OS 8, OS 9 and OS X (all versions) and I fully embraced Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Mac OS 8-9 and OS X 10.2/10.3 were as bad or worse than anything Microsoft has written and the crashes I had on Mac OS 8 and 9 were so frequent that it was impossible to use in a true multi-tasking fashion, no debate about co-operative vs. pre-emptive multitasking, co-operative multitasking was a disaster!

Mobile device wise I use iOS and have used Android with a dabble into Windows 8/8.1 on an Intel Atom based tablet which I use daily. My iOS device is not perfect but it operates without restarting for as long as I need, months if I’m not flying (and have to turn it off) or as long the duration between flights.

I’d consider myself a ‘power user’ of the technology devices I use, the term ‘Power user’ means my PC needs re-imaging every 6-9 months, this in itself must be something I am doing yet every PC laptop or Desktop device I have had has had the same issue, oddly my OS X machines were stable and reliable until about 2 years of use before rebuilding.

My experience with Microsoft Windows has never been great and currently with the struggle they have to remain relevant, MS needs to learn from Apple and Google about developing an OS robust and integrated enough to become relevant.

Complaints in no particular order:

I’m sure many of you don’t have the 6 month rebuild requirement that I have and i’m not even sure why that is but I use my Laptop like an appliance, its always on, I shut the ‘lid’ and open it up again when i want to continue working. Prior to Windows 7 this was a dangerous exercise, Windows XP could handle the sleep wake process for around a month after rebuild before choosing to ‘stay awake’ from then on. Windows 7 on the other hand is mostly stable, I can go any weeks before the ‘Print Spooler’ service (or some other random service) stops, requiring opening of the Microsoft Services.Msc to restart a service that was set to automatic? Automatic is supposed to mean start when required….. selecting the Print dialog therefore should either start the spooler service or ask if I’d like to start the servive, or at the very least tell me what to do to resolve it. Resolve it? thats a reboot, remember the old Microsoft joke about restarting your PC to ‘Fix’ a problem? this is an antiquated approach to managing the User Experience and not appropriate today.

Question: Why is it that a Dialog box requesting my attention changes focus from the email I am typing? as a non-touch typist I look towards the keyboard and there is little more frustrating that having to retype a sentence because a dialog box appeared.
Answer: Keep Dialog boxes within the application they are created, don’t stop me doing what I’m doing to acknowledge that Explorer has found a duplicate file while copying.

Question: Windows 8 had some great ideas, the Metro UI is refreshing and easy to use. Why is it that on resource constrained devices the legacy Desktop remained? Now I’ve been informed that the legacy desktop was there because of Office not having a touch version at the time of release. Office is critical to Microsoft and probably the only shining light in the ‘traditional’ Desktop stack today therefore Office Touch should have been in development a lot earlier than it has been. Having the Desktop UI available has allowed laziness among developers, why develop a Touch UI version of an application when the desktop version will work? Desktop applications Do Not work well with small screen touch devices.
Because of this decision the Metro apps available for Windows 8x are few and far between and the quality of those apps is below what they should be.
Answer: (we all know this one) MS should have made design choices for the device a consumer is using, if the device is ARM based then only Metro is available, if its resource constrained (like my Intel Atom tablet) then recommend the same or lock it down to Metro. The Desktop is useless without a pointing device.

Question: Applications still seem to have the same ‘lock-up’ issues they always have had when utilising Windows Explorer for accessing Files (Open, Save dialogs etc), Explorer has been around for as long as Windows has, so why does is still suffer these issues where the PC basically becomes useless while waiting for a response.
Answer: Responsiveness is critical, its the most important aspect of user experience after Stability. Don’t make explorer confirm the connection to every network share or worse still ‘Cloud’ service I have access to immediately, do these tasks asynchronously. This already happens for start up tasks so keeping the UI responsive can be achieved.

Question: When doing a file copy/move with drag and drop and the mouse ‘moves’ across a non connected drive, don’t ‘Hang’ waiting for the Network share to respond.
Answer: If I’m copying to that ‘path’ I will wait, but if I’m not allow the cursor to keep moving until i stop moving it.

Question: Microsoft Office ‘Threads’ seem to be in short supply, when I select a file to email a third party Outlook doesn’t have to stop every other activity until I’ve sent that one critical item. I can have multiple emails open and they can be in all stages of ‘sendability’, but as soon as I decide to go to the file system and attach a file to an email, Microsoft Outlook is dead to me until I have completed that task.
Answer: Update Explorer/Outlook integration so that the process of emailing from explorer is the same as sending any other email.

Question: Battery life, please sort out the mobile device refresh and updating process, my mobile tablet device has the worst battery life of any mobile device I’ve used that isn’t running Windows 8. An Android device or an iOS device can run for weeks if used judiciously. Windows 8.x on the other hand will run out of battery life within 4-5 days without use without any obvious background tasks running. Its not acceptable for an occasional use device today to be discharged completely by the next time I come to use it.
Answer: much deeper power saving, my PS Vita, iPad and Android Nexus tablets all manage ‘instant on’ for weeks, especially when WiFi is off.

Question: Inconsistent UI artifacts in Windows 8.x Metro, my experience with the Windows 8 login is that 20-30% of the time, the on-screen keyboard doesn’t appear, meaning that the power button has to be pressed to restart the UI.
Answer: Common sense

Question: Windows 8 power button, why does pressing the power button turn off the screen before turning it back on again on a tablet device?
Answer: as above

These issues wouldn’t be a concern if the grass wasn’t greener on the other side of the fence, but it is resolved on other operating systems including Android which has had a much shorter life than Microsoft Windows.
OS X is a pleasure to use in almost all aspects of operation, sure it has problems too but the integration between components is much more functional and the focus has been on a responsive and reliable User Experience.
I do not accept that its the plethora of hardware running Windows that causes these problems, operating system processes run on top of the drivers talking to hardware, its the responsibility of the running ‘Task’ or ‘Process’ to manage the response back to the Desktop environment. The underlying Drivers may have been written poorly but this being the case its Microsofts responsibility to toughen up the process for driver signing and certification.

The personal Laptop/Desktop PC is redundant for the majority of users today, for Microsoft to capture these users again requires a ground up rethink and redevelop of how they operate, Metro is a good start but it did not go far enough. Microsoft you can kill legacy, those users who need to keep operating the way they always have with their old hardware devices and applications will continue to use the OS that works for them, selling a new OS every 4 years is not the future, it again is legacy.

I’d say to Microsoft (if I had my time), force the Microsoft teams to all work together. The end game is the user not egos and fiefdoms of the many dev teams within Microsoft.

3 responses

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    yeah man waz wondering the same thing
    wot is the go with all gone very quiet' maybe the henchman got to mike

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Hi Mike wondering why all your blogs regards safeworlds tv have vanished.
    Did you get told to pull them or was it your own idea to do so?
    And are you going to meet with Metcalfe to keep him on his toes?
    I would love for you to meet with him and get to the bottom of all of this.

  3. xeon111 Avatar

    A lot of times when I am forced to work with Windows, I become very frustrated in the way I am forced to do only one task at a time and that is on a decent spec PC, I used to blame the PC. But in using Linuxmint 13.04, I don't have those problems and I don;t have problems with constant updates that Windows has, I have been using Linuxmint for 7months now and have had only one hiccup.
    I know I don't use my PC like people would in a business, but I do like to enjoy my experience.

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