Biggest hurdle to overcome with Windows 9: The dead end

Biggest hurdle to overcome with Windows 9: The dead end

Summary: Microsoft is being hit over the perceived failure that is Windows 8. While some wonder how Windows 9 might turn things around, there's one big hurdle that might be too big to jump over.

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Information is beginning to leak about Windows 9, and the conversation has turned to how badly Microsoft has failed so far with Windows 8. It's being said that Microsoft is floundering, with Windows 8 even being compared to Vista. Some wonder how Windows 9 might turn things around, but that may be harder than Microsoft can manage. There's a big problem in the Windows ecosystem that a new version probably can't address.

Updaet failure

It's important to understand that while talk on the web is ramping up about the failings of Windows 8, that's not universally the case. There are plenty of people happily using Windows 8 (myself included), and they'll continue to do so.

Others, my friend Adrian Kingsley-Hughes among them, left Windows behind and wonder if Windows 9 will bring them back. I'm afraid it won't.

Where Windows 8 is failing is in attracting new users, and enticing Windows 7 users to upgrade to the radical new design of Windows 8. You don't have to look far on the web to find those refusing to upgrade, as they don't like the new OS.

As for attracting new users, Microsoft needs to tap the vast potential market of those looking for a mobile solution. Whether that be tablet or laptop doesn't matter, Microsoft is desperately trying to get new customers from the mobile crowd.

If the phrase 'search the Knowledge Base' is part of the experience when things go awry, it's a major failure.

That's where the Windows ecosystem raises its ugly head and forms an obstacle for getting these new customers. The ecosystem referred to here is not the familiar one of apps and content, it's more fundamental than that.

The ecosystem that makes it difficult for Windows to compete for new mobile customers, is the one that often turns the user experience (UX) into one worse than the competition's.

It's the one that sometimes makes simple tasks turn into dead ends with Windows when things don't work the way they should. Think of updates that fail to execute and apps that create problems for the user. Problems that present themselves with a dialog box with an error message that provides no information to the user on how to proceed. I call it the Windows dead end.

Most Windows users have seen those if they are honest. And they are correct when they point out that often these dead ends are not the fault of Windows. They occur when there's an app failure, a hardware problem, or a software driver problem. The mainstream mobile customer that Microsoft wants to win does not care where the fault lies, only in a smooth experience.

These dead ends are the result of the Windows ecosystem, so indirectly they are Microsoft's fault as far as new customers are concerned. The system was working, and now it isn't. No matter where the fault lies it's a failure of the UX, and that's Windows' biggest problem.

This is the way it is now with Windows 8, and almost certainly will be the way it is with Windows 9 in the future. This is the biggest hurdle for Microsoft to jump to compete in today's mobile climate.

The competition doesn't have this problem, and that's why they are growing at the expense of Microsoft and Windows.

Apple controls the entire iPad ecosystem which is why they rarely have a dead end experience. Enthusiasts will cry that it's not fair to compare Windows and the iPad mobile experience for this reason. It is fair, however, as that's what Microsoft has to deal with to get Windows (and keep it) in the hands of mobile customers.

While Apple controls the whole UX environment, Android doesn't and it doesn't have these dead end UX episodes. Android has an OS source different from both the hardware and app providers, yet it works well for mobile customers.

Even when iPad or Android problems arise, and of course they do, the system takes care of it and lets the user keep going. If a rare restart is required, those usually happen with no user intervention and the session resumes. This is only a minor inconvenience for the user, not a dead end.

There are no cryptic error messages, hang-ups, nor online research required. That's a big obstacle for Windows, as today's mobile customer is very intolerant compared to the PC user of old. Things must work or they look elsewhere for what they need. As millions are now doing.

See related: 

Topics: Mobility, Laptops, Tablets, Windows 8

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236 comments
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  • M$ never gets all the rough edges worked out

    I don't think windows users, for any version of windows, will ever get the experience of users on iPads, Kindle Fire or Nexus tablets. There will always be annoyances with windows and M$ promising to get it right on the next release. History just keeps repeating itself.
    FrankInKy
    • There is no road ahead. This is the end.

      There is nothing nice about Windows. And it just keeps getting worse.

      Even the fanbois stopped at Windows 7, and won't be moving to 8 or 9.

      The article didn't mention that the Windows Metro interface is making everyone's Windows Pain Threshold worse. Will there be more pain? Yes. In fact, Windows 9 is even codenamed 'Threshold'! Can you believe that?

      With that name, you can only think of more pain to come.
      Vbitrate
      • You Won

        the award for most ignorant comment. Your actually complaining about the name. I believe you need to do more reading less writing.
        Sean Foley
        • You lost and the irony of your comment is delicious.

          Sean, your comment has nothing to do with the subject. Prove your point of view instead of attacking others. Explain to us why you feel that both Vbitrate and the author is wrong. Why is Windows 9 not a make or break release and tell us about what you know about Windows 9 that should restore confidence in windows for people to absolutely hate windows 8 and are refusing to upgrade. Adding more Metro is not the solution when people are rejecting it.
          aristotle_z
          • Google starting re-educate Windows-users to new post-Windows era

            Chrome 32 is out. Among the feature list is an interesting one. The browser can transform itself to look like Chrome OS, Google‘s very own operating system. This feature is available only for Windows 8 users who use the browser in “Metro” mode.

            The arrangement comes with a application launcher on the bottom-left corner. For ease of access, apps for Chrome browser, GMail and YouTube are also present in the bottom shelf. Like in the OS, multiple browser windows can be opened.

            Yuri Wiitala, Software Engineer at Google writes on an official Google blog:

            "Chrome on Windows 8 “Metro” mode gets a new look: Manage multiple Chrome windows and quickly get to your favorite Chrome Apps with an integrated app launcher. On the desktop, we’ve updated the default styling of UI elements like form controls and scrollbars to match the sleek design of the new Chrome Metro interface."

            This is a direct invasion of Microsoft Windows 8. What it means is that withing Windows users will be getting a Chromebook experience – cutting out all Microsoft tools and services. The more they will use this ‘Chrome OS’ experience the more they will get used to it and will realize that they actually don’t use Windows at all; that they can very well live withing ‘Chrome OS’. Next time when they would visit a store selling Chromebooks – they will be more comfortable buying it.

            Microsoft is already scared of Chromebooks and instead of working on improving it’s image or products started funneling money in anti-Google ad campaigns that ruined their image even further.
            MacBroderick
        • My 'threshold' is already passed, Sean Foley

          I thought Vbitrate's comment was apt, and was one of the 14 votes (at the time I voted). You got the same number of votes at the time. So that means your threshold is not passed.

          The article is ABOUT 'thresholds', though that theme is sotto voce. As for me, I'm dead now to MS products. They had 10 whopping years post-XP, to listen to the customers, and didn't.

          What would have been so hard, to fix XP? Make it do what even back then one could do in Linux, READ AND WRITE TO DVDs? A patch. A simple patch. MS could have even CHARGED for the patch, and many would gladly pay.

          Same for the other changes which are laudable. NO NEED TO CHANGE THE INTERFACE. No need to remove the better search engine in XP, in favor of the dorky and dysfunctional one in Vista and Win7. No need to remove the interface and replace it with one that's harder. Could have offered added 'desktops' like Linux has long done, which the user can CHOOSE. And CHARGE for that.

          So MS could be making a ton on money, instead of losing money. MS could be getting kudos universally, instead of being universally panned. But instead of listening to the users, the developers, and even common sense -- for common sense would never move the cheese from the refrigerator to the outhouse and then HIDE it -- instead of listening, MS just goes deaf. For 10 years.

          So my threshold of tolerance for MS deafness, is long gone. I will be deaf to Windows 9 and anything else MS, from now on. Will instead stick to the old MS stuff, like MS Office 2003 and prior, which all the legal community still uses, and older OS like XP and for internetting, DVD, moviemaking, Win7. And when that no longer works, I'll use Linux Mint 13 (not later, even Linux newer distros are going deaf).
          brainout
          • Are they losing money?

            I thought their last quarter was the best on record. Wall Street is predicting their pending finances to be even better.

            Curious, if you are so disgusted with Microsoft and believe in Linux, why are you willing to continue using Microsoft until they "no longer work". Of course you even claim Linux is going deaf.

            In your mind, is anyone listening? If not, is that a realistic belief?
            robradina@...
          • You keep forgetting that they raised their prices

            Twice in the last year.

            Even OEMs have started avoiding Windows.
            jessepollard
          • Microsoft great incomes are telling the story of the past...

            ... the time when companies (and majority of consumers) were forced to buy computers with Windows pre installed. Hundreds of millions of people have already bought the last Windows computer. 1990's will never come back.

            This was never a free choice - just a Gulag system. People were slaved to live in Windows ecosystem.
            Frankie1965
          • NOT REALLY

            actually only now you could get to see worthy products from Redmond. now that their blue blood in the ecosystem has run out they should feel (note SHOULD) compelled to come up with goodness because not all users are constraint to their products anymore. But due to their market share in computer software which is still H U G E , they still have their joker cards up their dirty sleeves. Few really acknowledge that complaining about their latest OS incarnations did nothing to their asses in the past, nowadays could be rather little different. Few also acknowledge that the way their OS comes out of their brains is actually the only sane way and the only left to them. It actually more both ways than ever. They will still impose their vision of the future computing upon you and still listen to your complaints
            innn
          • Actually...

            My experience with Linux Mint started with v9, which I had plenty trouble with, then (when I upgraded to v13) it smoothed out. Only reason I'm currently in Windows a lot lately is the fact that Adobe is stupid and isn't supporting any OS other than Windows for Flash updates. Dumb move on Adobe's part.

            It has been my experience with the Mint team that they do indeed listen to the users, too. And security of any Linux system is much higher than Windows, partly because of the user-privilege model used in Linux vs. that used in Windows.
            Raymond Danner
          • Brainout never fails to post negative comments, must make him feel better

            We all know you hate MS, so just give it a rest. It will help your blood pressure, and not irritate the rest of us. Your choice of Brainout is brilliant, since I think you have lost your mind. Subconsciously you self diagnosed your problem. Hope your rationale behavior returns in the near future.
            bttlk
          • I'm still with MS (just)

            XP? Office 2003?

            Windows 7 is a far superior interface (though I agree about the search feature - and Google Desktop was better than either) - but Windows 8.1 is only just usable (W8 wasn't)

            Likewise I love Office 2010 - much better than 2003. (2007 didn't get it quite right). No desire to try Office 2013.
            JoCaBa
      • But since you two can't ever view any MS news objectively

        therein lies the issue as to why your "opinions" are never accurate.

        What are you two, in your mutual bashing society, so afraid of in reference to MS that would get you to think that way?

        As for the most important part of the entire article was the two words "perceived failure".

        Who are the people he's talking about in reference to "perceived"?. I saw a robust, interested group of people at Best Buy the other day shopping for Windows * based machines, (and Apple) but none at the Google area.

        So who are these people he's talking about, and what percentage of them are there?
        William.Farrel
        • Please.

          NO one is afraid of Microsoft. Just sick of them. Time for you to retire your inane attempts to make Microsoft look like some sort of champion of a company. The only thing Microsoft is the champion of is lying, cheating and stealing. Go crawl back under your rock and leave the rest of civilized society alone Billiam!
          DontUseMicrosoftAtAll
          • There's got to be a name for it...

            ...the irrational hatred of a company that produces a product that is bought by free choice, a hatred so embedded that every opportunity is sought online and elsewhere to bash, to make ludicrous claims that everything about them, everything they've produced is useless, evil, or both, and anyone who would use it is just obviously some sort of lame lemming-follower. Grow up, it only makes you sound like complete idiots.

            I personally can't stand Apple; don't like their elitist marketing strategy or policies, their closed system, couldn't stand Jobs (met him many years ago and found him an arrogant jerk), and consequently would never buy any of their products. But would I go to a forum discussing the latest ios release and start ranting about how nothing Apple has ever made is, was, or ever will be any good? (hint, in case you really are the idiot and not just playing one on a forum...the answer is no).

            Give it up, man. The world is full of choices, and those who don't choose your particular favorite, or even have the 'nerve' to choose something you passionately hate are not going to be influenced by your rants, in fact probably the opposite. Pick your stuff and let others do the same without having to read or listen to your nonsensical waste of time. Find something worthwhile to do with your life, anything's better than what you're wasting your time on now. Choose whatever you like, but don't go banging on everyone else's door demanding they must choose like you or be deemed fools, fanbois, or at least have to listen to you endlessly babble about nothing of any use to anyone.
            garyleroy@...
          • You Are Correct

            The world is full of choices. The point of the article is that fewer and fewer are choosing Windows.
            Gr8Music
          • Troll comment

            You make no points and contribute nothing to the conversation but hate.

            Troll.
            Rann Xeroxx
          • No, time for you to retire your inane

            attempts to make Microsoft look like some sort evil incarnate of a company, while everyone else is so looking out for the wellbeing of the world.

            Now the only thing Google is the champion of is lying, cheating and stealing-

            "I swear, we really DON'T know how all that wi-fi receiver and recording equipment got attached to all our cars. We never planned on publishing your wireless router locations, it just mysteriously happened".

            "Look, we aren't trying to avoid $2 Billion In Taxes, we really ARE investing Profits In Bermuda"

            "Of course we plan to contest the right of UK users to bring their case to the country where those users live and use Google's services. Our HQ is based in California, they only live the UK, so privacy is based on what we want, not what they deserve".

            Should I go on, maybe add Apple to the mix, or maybe you just want to go crawl back under your rock and leave the rest of civilized society alone because as you can see, the companies you champion are nowhere close to the champion of a company you want us all to believe.
            William.Farrel
          • So you think Microsoft doesn't avoid taxes?

            Did you forget the EULA that MS put on hotmail- claiming ownership of anything passing through their network?

            Did you forget the corruption lawsuits?

            How about the illegal monopoly convictions?

            Or the copyright lawsuits Microsoft has lost?

            Forget the handing over of dissidents in China?

            Between the two companies, I would trust Google one hell of a lot more than Microsoft.
            jessepollard