Oct 09

Windows 7’s bad attitude

The fixed the product, now fix the attitude

The product is improved. The attitude, not so much.

To read the pre-release reviews of Windows 7, one would think the scourge of Vista is behind us. Even WSJ’s Walt Mossberg, long a believer in Mac OS X superiority, suddenly sees OS equality.

Well, not so fast. There may be a smaller technology gap, but I’m afraid we still have a serious philosophy gap. While Apple continues to gain share by embracing its customers, Microsoft acts more like the bully being forced to shake hands with the kid he just beat up.

You can’t win the hearts of customers unless you show a little love (see earlier post). Yet Microsoft continues to treat us like a source of cash instead of human beings. For example, Windows 7 (like Vista) comes in multiple flavors at multiple prices. There are four versions this time. It’s your job to figure out which is right and pay accordingly — with Ultimate appearing at a budget-busting $320. (That other OS comes in one flavor, all features included, at one decent price.)

Inexplicably, Microsoft is making the upgrade most difficult for its biggest group of customers: those who passed on Vista and stuck with XP (that’s over half of the world’s PC users, by the way). Vista users can upgrade with a click, but those XP laggards must be punished for their sin. They’ll need to back up their data, wipe out their hard disks, reinstall their apps, re-run the updaters and restore their data. (That other OS installs over any previous system, no problem.)

And, with full knowledge that email, calendar, contact list and video player are essential to our everyday lives — Microsoft didn’t even include them in Windows 7. They’re free, but you have to go download them online. Now that’s considerate. (That other OS comes with all these apps, ready to run.)

I’m sure the boys in Redmond are frustrated as hell that Apple basks in all this love while Microsoft fails to get the credit they so richly deserve. Actually, they’re getting exactly the credit they deserve. What people want is a little respect — and Microsoft keeps forgetting to put that in the box.

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  • if this OS release were an episode of Battlestar Galactica, you would see the hands of the Cylons behind this very clearly…

  • John Naitove

    Considering how long it takes to install windows, they didn’t include the free extras in the installation because they were afraid that nobody would have the patience to upgrade.

  • so they make you take LONGER to install all the bits by having choose which OS you want / need, backup, load the OS, reload your backups, reset all your personal settings, THEN go online and accumulate all the bits you need?

    that is typical MS logic…

    i can’t tell you how happy i am to have abandoned MS and stuck with Apple…

  • tw

    Good point made.

  • Vlad

    Got my Windows 7 just yesterday and I agree with you. I feel like being offered a product, which is highly estrictive. Look at this: http://www.microsoft.com/howtotell/geo/ – Geographically Restricted Microsoft Software – I work in Thailand, got my Windows 7 original and cannot install it again once I move to a different country? Just too many restrictions.

  • ken segall

    Wow, how much more complicated can they make it? When you’re the company holding all the cards — like Microsoft with Windows 7 — it’s not hard to make your customers feel like they’re being squeezed. It’s also not hard to make them feel respected and happy. Their choice.

  • First of all- in Windows 7 isn`t any email client , there is video player- WMP now have more codeks and you can save your contacts. In EU- European Junion Microsoft have some rules to stick to.

    I am a Linux user, but still, i think Windows 7 is great OS- better than XP and Vista, but i think there should be home(multimedia) end ultimate edition. One for work one for home.

  • Chris McDonnell

    And to follow your last line, there is not even much love in many of the “boxes” themselves made by Microsoft. I swear, left-minded and technological though I am, I could not for the life of me figure out how to open the packaging when I finally succumbed and purchased the latest Office. I would have thought the designer (who apparently received an award from Redmond for the new packaging) would have provided instructions on the outside? (i.e., move the tab downward, and “don’t try to pry it open at the four plastic tabs even though it looks like the type of box the whole world has opened in such fashion in the past”).
    Funny thing is, I even tried calling Microsoft to get directions to open this Office box. They had no idea what I was talking about. I found other articles online from consumers who had a similar problem, a few from some pretty-in-the-know tech bloggers. At least they made me realize I was not an idiot.
    What is the benefit of “good design” when it is not automatically intuitive for the general public?

  • ken segall

    Guess you’ve uncovered an entirely new topic for us. Packaging is hugely important, as it is literally our first interaction with a product and begins to shape our experience. I’ve never wrestled with Microsoft’s packaging, but I’ll take your word for it. Seems that everyone loathes those thick plastic packages that can’t be opened without a blow-torch, yet they keep on comin’.