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Has Microsoft Learned its Lesson?

This is the first in a three-part series exploring the release of Windows 8, why it went wrong and the aftermath that followed.


Part 1: How we got here

Experience has taught me that the “Wait and see” approach to adopting new Microsoft operating systems is best. I wish that weren’t true, but necessity dictates I don’t cut my own throat by blindly accepting each new version. I first learned my lesson with Apple, oddly enough: I bought into the brand new Apple II GS that promised exciting new things, but 6 months later it had been abandoned. Then the excitement of a new convergence of home and business system convinced me to upgrade to Windows Millennium.

Having been burned twice, I then began to be more careful and measured in my approach. After Windows XP I skipped the drama that was Vista until Vista part duex (Windows 7) came out. Unless this latest Windows 8 (8.1 SP2? 9?) version update is more than Microsoft simply undoing past bad decisions, I’ll be waiting to see how that pans out as well.

The reasoning is actually quite simple: Microsoft has taught me/us not to trust it. You can only bite our hand so many times before we get a bit shy about grabbing for the next new shiny bauble Microsoft tosses our way.

In rolling out Windows 8, Microsoft nearly abandoned the business workstation users entirely in order to chase down the “Shiny” prospect of touch screen interfaces. Their monopoly over the operating system market has killed Microsoft’s drive to give us what we want and need. It emboldens them to shove their own vision of what an operating system should look like down our throats in the hope that we’ll have no choice but to follow along.

Some have argued that Microsoft has a problem “selling” their new Bi-modal (combining touch and keyboard-mouse) approach to an operating system and that people just failed to understand how much better it is for them. Do they really believe that we don’t see the arrogance in that?
That perspective really ignores some rather basic realities:

Selling the bi-modal feature was not Microsoft’s problem with Windows 8, they sold that just fine, but what they did do is severely misjudge their business customers. When they purposefully removed everything familiar about the operating system and then purposefully prevented anyone from using anything approaching a classic or non-touch interface, they alienated nearly 90% of their business market. It’s almost as if Microsoft completely forgot the world’s business offices don’t run on tablets…

By removing their customer’s ability to choose how they use the operating system, Microsoft alienated their bread and butter customer base, which is why Windows 8 adoption has been absolutely laughable, even after aggressively killing XP and halting the sale of Windows 7.

When you can’t get more than 12 percent buy-in on a flagship OS after nearly two years in a market you nearly monopolize, you’ve made some earth-shatteringly bad assumptions about your customers. Especially when you have to take that market number and subtract all of the buyers who were forced to buy Windows 8 and promptly downgraded to the more effective and business friendly Windows 7, which remains a much more efficient operating system for businesses.

Continued in part 2: Microsoft Windows:  You Took Away My What?!?


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