Why Sinofsky's departure makes me a happy Windows enthusiast

Why Sinofsky's departure makes me a happy Windows enthusiast

Summary: I never like to hear of people getting fired, but Sinofsky leaving could mean the return of my long-lost passion for Windows! Here's a list of 3 things I'd like to see a Sinofsky-less Windows team achieve, as well as some additional thoughts.

TOPICS: Microsoft

It's been well over 24 hours now and most of you have heard of Steven Sinofsky's departure. (If you haven't, then read up on the topic here.) The loss of the Windows chief is something of a bittersweet occurrence for me: for all of his professional quiescence and well-known likeability (sarcasm), the man got things done around there. Windows 7 is absolutely my favorite OS in existence, leaving me wanting for nothing. That's not to say that I can't be sold on new features I don't yet know I would like, but save for that, Windows 7 brought about some ridiculously awesome changes (taskbar enhancements, etc.) that have left me happier than a hobo with a ham sandwich.

Now, with Windows 8, there's speculation that Sinofsky screwed the pooch, and that, specifically, landed him on his rear-end in the alleyway behind 1 Microsoft Way; however, I don't buy that -- primarly because Julie Larson-Green was (so far) placed in his position and arguably had as much (if not more) to do with Windows 8 as Sinofsky. Regardless of the reason why Steven was let go of, I'm happy that the Windows reigns are shifting to someone else who, I hope, will champion a mentality somewhere between the Allchin days and Sinofsky's knack for getting things done.

So, with Sinofsky gone, here are 3 items on my wishlist from a hopefully rejuvinated Windows team:

1: Bring back the Start menu in Windows 8: This one is self-explanatory. I know a lot of people out there enjoy the new UI and you think the rest of us should just suck it up and abandon our creature comforts, but to you all, I say, "shove off!" WE WANT OUR START MENU BACK!

2: Windows 7 SP2: I recently downgraded to Windows 7 from Windows 8 via a Windows 7 SP1 image. 100+ updates downloaded and installed after the fact (not including one failed reset, which rolled back settings and made me install them AGAIN), I was reminded of why a Windows 7 SP2 is sorely needed -- even if just to slipstream all these darn updates. Not to mention, there are a couple of persistent issues with Windows 7 that -- despite plenty of time -- have never been fixed; i.e., folder views constantly resetting and icons forever breaking with the installation of new programs. But this is me, the computer enthusiast tech blogger; not the IT guy who has to deploy countless Windows 7 SP1 installs along with a gazillion updates.

3: Relentless passion for Windows (think "Longhorn"): Ever since Jim Allchin was let go of, the intense enthusiast passion for Windows has all but died, and Microsoft needs to get it back. How, you ask? I have absolutely no idea, but I'm hoping a Sinofsky-less Windows team can figure it out and make it happen. As a once SERIOUS Windows enthusiast, I know what made legions of dedicated Windows fans tick: leaks of builds with exciting stuff to dig out of them, and eye candy that inspired multitudes of wallpapers, shell enhancements, and more.

Now, I know that enthusiasts of that nature are few and far between, but guess what? They're an extremely vocal bunch (Psst! One of them is sitting right here, writing this article for a broad audience on ZDNet!). And, in addition to me, you have far more credible and awesome Microsoft bloggers here (Mary-Jo Foley and Ed Bott) who keep their fingers on the pulse of the scene and the community, and they reflect and report on that pulse -- something that has the potential to generate tons of excitement.

If Microsoft is open for something different, they might do well to consider a grassroots movement to generate excitement from all the angles Sinofsky shut down: the "enthusiast effect," as I'll call it. They did it with Longhorn and guess what? It WORKED. Not since the release of Windows 95 had Windows users and developers been punchdrunk with excitedness for Windows.

With that said, head on over to the following Windows Longhorn gallery I just put together and see for yourself how dull Windows 8 looks in comparison. While the overall vision may have been to grand, visually speaking, Windows Longhorn is hands-down the most exciting version of Windows that Microsoft has ever put forth. So, without further ado, click the image below (or just click here, whichever):

Windows Longhorn: still the most exciting Windows UI to date (gallery)
Windows Longhorn: still the most exciting Windows UI to date (gallery)

That sure beats the pants off of Windows 8's UI, don't you think? Granted, I realize that some of these features are dated almost 10 years later, but I still think it looks fresh and exciting. Regardless, the excitement that was generated during this time was just unbelievable. And since then, I've watched Microsoft try -- in vain -- to get people fired up about Windows. Maybe they can reach back and create something visually exciting that people actually want to use again; not this "Modern" tile garbage that's about as useful for a mouse-and-keyboard user as a cinder block is for a bowler.

Julie, I really hope you're reading this, because I'm appealing to you! Please bestow these things upon us, your loyal users, and in return, I shall bestow upon you good tidings of ambrosia, along with the finest samplings of milk and honey! (To share with the team, though, of course.)

At the end of the day, Steven Sinofsky is a human being and I don't like the thought of people being let go of; however, viewing this situation purely from my stance as a Windows enthusiast, I haven't been this happy or fired-up about the potential for Windows in a very long time. So, here's to hoping for a much more exciting Windows ahead: for users, developers, professionals, and everyone in-between.

What kind of changes would you like to see happen with Windows now? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Topic: Microsoft

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  • Huh?

    Huh? Sorry, I walked into Best Buy and within a dozen swipes of a Windows 8 touch screen I was in awe! This is where computing is going - keyboards are son 19th century anyway. So if I am a graphics guy I can use the add-ons I currently use. Or if I am a gal that likes keyboards I can use one. Or if I am standing in line at the bus stop I swipe to read my paper. Any glitches will be forgotten a couple of years from now - other OS's will be playing catch up for years.
    • You mean 20th century

      As we actually are in the 21st century and in the 19th century you only had but the most basic typewriter...

      But I don't share your objection about keyboards. There are still a lot of times when keyboards are the best way.

      On screen keyboards on tablets and smartphones are a pain to use, more so when you have to type accentuated letters like in my native language French!
    • Re: "keyboards are son 19th century anyway."

      What did you use to (mis)type that?
  • Nearly ... but shallow

    I agree with sentiment of Chapman's post ... but I think he explores symptoms, instead of the disease itself.

    1. The start menu banishment ... and the constant schizophrenia of the W8 UI ... are symptoms of MSFT's attempts to force customers down a specific path. Like UAC in Vista all such tactics are resented. However the copying of the insidious APPL-esque business model of a locked-down, taxed ecosystem is what ZDNET commentator should be concentrating on ... the withdrawal of openness: few are up to the task.

    2. A symptom of MSFT's lack of customer focus, salesmanship and marketing.

    3. Agreed: we have been forced to endure complete crap like Windows Home Server ... and I wouldn't trust Storage Spaces for a few years ... but these and other misadventures show that the MSFT is led by shareholder value, profit driven technology decisions ... and not the interoperable technology which made it a great companion to the Internet.

    4. MSFT's tax on developers and the launch of Surface show that the company has no regard for the partners and ecosystem through which it prospered ... and more simmering resentment will eventually find the company out, unless it manages to rule with a rod of iron.
    • OTOH ...

      ... just as W7 was the recovery of the good work done in Vista ... so W9 could be the recovery of the good work done in W8. So let's hope Julie has the intellect, skill and honesty to turn the ship before it hits the iceburg ... and maybe root out a few more who are unwilling to cooperate.

      The timing is good ... but I am not optimistic.
    • Of all things Windows you pick UAC?

      Some design decisions do need to force on to users, for better or worse, and UAC is by far one of the most important decision in terms of security.
      Every modern OS have such permission elevation mechanism so you'll be hard pressed finding one that doesn't have UAC-like security elsewhere. Also unlike Win8 start button you can turn that off anytime.

      Your other points are just opinions. You need more evidence to back those up pal.
  • LOL

    "Bring back the Start menu in Windows 8" - keep dreaming
    • Steve Ballmer

      Unfortunately, Windows will never go back to being the same old good Windows before Windows 8. That is as long as Steve Ballmer is in charge. Steve Ballmer said he's going all in with Windows 8 and that's not going to change with him in office. Get him out and maybe we'll see Windows going back to the way most people like it.

      I typed this on my desktop running Windows 8 Pro.
  • Why Sinofsky's departure makes me a happy Windows enthusiast

    1. Its called the start screen now. Put your mouse in the lower left corner to see it, same spot as the start menu and acts the same.
    2. Agreed, Microsoft should continue supporting Microsoft Windows 7 until its end of life cycle. Rolling out service packs is a great way of getting the latest patches and new features.
    3. The passion was never gone, you are just changing in your ways. Operating systems to you aren't as exciting as they once were since you been doing it for so many years. I still have the passion and think Microsoft Windows 8 is the way to go.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Start screen is not the same

      Where is my "most used app" list from the left side column of the menu? Where are the pop-up list of most recently opened documents when clicking on the arrow beside name of the application in the menu?

      I can't say I'm missing the cramped scrolling view of the all applications section of the Windows Vista/7 start menu (we should have the expanding view like on previous Windows without having to revert to a one column classic start menu), but I'm missing the rest of it.

      I'm with you on service packs, the business likes that and to my knowledge almost no companies deploy a Windows version before its first service pack, but service packs are becoming less frequent with each Windows release (NT 4 --> 6, 2000 --> 4, XP --> 3, Vista --> 2, Win7 --> 1).

      I also think that passion isn't gone, despite being hated, Vista had a lot of innovation that weren't always well implemented and stuck on machines still not powerful enough for it, but none the less revolutionary. Windows 7 fixed it. Windows 8 also is revolutionary (maybe not in a way I like but that's beside the point). Windows 8 have rough edges that no doubt will be ironed out by the time Windows 9 comes along.
    • Dosen't!

      Dosen't Look or Act the same nor even provide the same functionallity.
  • The reputation that Vista Longhorn generated

    I seriously do not want those days. The moving target schedule of an OS. Please, you seriously want Windows 9 to come out 5 years later? Mr. Sinofsky built a tight engine that produces releases on schedule. We have to look at how computing has evolved, it is no longer point and click, Touch is a first class input citizen. Enthusiast are a minority compared to the over 1 billion average users who really don't care about Aero Glass and simply want an OS that is stable, beautiful and functional. Personally, I think the Start Menu should make a return and keep the Start Screen as a go to pinned link on the Start menu if you are using a Tablet/Convertible touch screen device.
  • Stephen

    You must drive a 1988 Lincoln Continental. Great for 1988, not so good now. Enterprise computing or most computing for that matter is about getting work done not how pretty it looks. This is the reason why MS is trying to catch back up. The world doesn't want gas guzzling giant computers any more and for those that do there will always be Win7. The world is moving on even if you aren't. You probably have a main frame in your basement too.
    • !!!

      How did you know what kind of car I drive!? O_O
    • your world... yeah, well...

      Enjoy your toy world dude, I will enjoy my 10K gaming rig and chuckle at all the swiping, scrolling, new world etch a sketch tableters...
  • I don't use Windows

    I use applications to do my job, and those applications happen to need Windows. As long as Windows doesn't get in the way too much, I don't care if it is version 7, 8, or 666.

    Too many IT people STILL can't get this through their heads and then wonder why the actual user communities hate their IT organizations.
    terry flores
  • The "/" character

    Computers were so easy to use when I could just type the "/" character and then a couple of letters to execute any function. Bring back Lotus 123, that's what I want.
  • Those three things

    would be steps backward, not forward.
    Michael Alan Goff
    • Especially step 3!

      Rekindling an intense passion for Windows users and developers again would be a HUGE step backwards! /sarcasm
      • Except

        There is enough passion to have sold 4 million upgrades in the first weekend and for them to run out of Surface Tablets shortly after launch.

        At this point, I just saw 11,400 apps in the app store.

        Developers are putting their noses to the grindstone.

        Consumers seem to be latching onto Windows 8, and so do developers.
        Michael Alan Goff