Microsoft currently bathes in enthusiasm and self-analysis. In equal measure.
It's seen its business do astoundingly well during the pandemic. It's even seen off Amazon in managing to secure government contracts.
Redmond still, though, harbors old habits that it finds very hard to shake.
One of these is to nag Windows users until they pick up their PCs and toss them from great heights. Or, even worse, buy a Mac.
The latest episode of Microsoft Is Poking Me Through The Windows involves a pop-up message that appears in Windows 10's purpose-built notification center.
It reads: "Microsoft recommends different browser settings. Want to change them?"
I fancy most people would sniff: "Oh, do please run along. I'm perfectly happy with my settings, whatever they are, and I have a lot to do today, thank you."
Redmond, though, is undeterred. The notification adds that you'll get "Search that gives you back time and money." And "fast and secure search results with Bing."
Oh, yes. Bing, the MySpace to Google's Facebook, is still being pushed.
I learned that this Bing-pushing is pushing Windows users' buttons. There's a little Reddit thread where you'll see laments such as: "You're not the first to have this Microsoft Annoyance. Apparently, there are thousands in front of you."
The most poignant, perhaps, was this: "Miserably I get this despite using Edge AND having Bing set as my default search engine... (the latter of which for Microsoft Rewards). I think the 'problem' is that not ALL of my browsers had Bing as the default search engine? Which is ridiculous because I never use Chrome or Firefox anyway. But after clicking the popup, it ludicrously opened up all my browsers."
I confess I know of no one who has Bing as their default search engine. I also confess that Microsoft continues to pester even those who are already using particular Microsoft services.
I still get nags to download the new Edge browser, presumably because I operate my Hotmail (diehard commitment, this) account on Firefox. This is especially galling, as I already use Edge for some things and find it very good.
One can, of course, understand why Microsoft continues to push Bing, even though Google's hegemony is palpable.
The question, however, is why it should do it in this particular way. There's an abdication of imagination involved in knowing -- surely Redmond knows -- that you'll annoy people with your nagging.
What's most distressing is the lack of any attempt at charm or humor in these notifications.
Are they all written by engineers? Or robots, perhaps?
What if Redmond tried something like: "Yeah, I know you think Bing's a really silly name. But why don't you give it a go? You never know, you might be pleasantly surprised."?
Or perhaps: "We know you hate these nags about Bing, but our bosses force us to do it. So please try Bing so that we can live a more peaceful life here at Microsoft Central."
Cold-hearted, myopic, robotic nagging has been a trait of Microsoft's for many years. Why, in forcing the new Edge onto Windows 7 customers without any preamble, Microsoft caused some to believe Edge was malware.
Perhaps Microsoft believes that irritation works. Perhaps it simply has no better ideas to persuade anyone to try Bing.
And really, it's not as if Redmond is alone in pursuing this sort of communication.
Why, I've even had Apple notifying me of its angry feelings whenever I open, oh, Microsoft Edge.