Dear Microsoft: Why Your Customers Hate Windows 8

The computer industry gives short shrift to small business and home users. This has never been more clear to me than with the introduction of Windows 8, so I wrote this letter to Microsoft on behalf of the Nation of Windows Users.

Dear Microsoft,

We know you’re excited about Windows 8, and you want us to be excited too. And you can’t figure out why we’re all “meh” when you want us to be all “YEAH!”

The Look
We hate Windows 8. You’re forcing a new look on us, when it’s all we can do to keep up with our everyday tasks. Windows 8 may have all sorts of nifty improvements, but that’s no good if it takes us two hours just to figure out how we used to do something.

Don’t make fun of us if we aren’t computer-savvy. Not everybody is a tech guru. For some people, even moving an icon on the desktop is a major change. That’s not our fault. It’s YOUR fault if you don’t understand that some people want to concentrate on what they need to do, rather than trying to figure out how to go about getting it done on an unfamiliar system.

Don’t tell us we’ll learn to love it. We don’t have time. If we have to learn something new, we might as well go over to Apple and see what the fuss is about Macs.

No Start Menu
You spent the last 20 years teaching us the Start menu. Remember how angry we were when you yanked the old Office Toolbar and replaced it with the ugly Ribbon? You told us, “You’ll love it, it’s so much better.”

Well, we don’t, and it isn’t. Some people still haven’t gotten used to it, and haven’t upgraded as a result. You make it much harder for us to want to buy your stuff when you treat us like children who need to have decisions made for us.

Usability Over Security
And when you make us hang onto our old stuff because the new stuff takes too much time and effort to learn, you make it nearly impossible to secure our systems. We’re more concerned about usability than whether or not we’re running vulnerable software. That’s part of the reason there’s such a virus problem on Windows (that, and your sieve-like code).

The Hype
You keep telling us every version of Windows is the best yet. You said Vista was awesome and then you backpedaled because it sucked. Same for Windows ME. You used to tell us the Windows Vista & 7 interface was da bomb but now it’s “dated and cheesy”. Why should we believe you about Windows 8? We know today’s new program will be tomorrow’s garbage. Stop pretending otherwise.

The Tablet Craze
So you’re introducing the Surface tablet. Whoopee. We’ve already got iPads and Androids and other mobile devices. Your Windows Phone may be a technological marvel but it’s got minimal market share.

We know Windows 8 is more about you trying to break into the tablet market to compete with Google and Apple, and less about the people who rely on Windows *gasp* to get actual work done.

In short, we don’t care how fancy your new tablet is, nor how well Windows 8 works on it, if Windows 8 isn’t going to offer us benefits on the PCs we already own.

The Touchy-Swipey Thing
So Windows 8 is all touchy-swipey. No one, least of all you, has any idea how touchy-swipey is going to work with PCs that have keyboards and mice. It may be the wave of the future, but it doesn’t help us get work done. It’s just another annoying change on top of a lot of other annoying changes. Why do we want anything to do with Windows 8 if it’s going to be this much trouble?

No SP2 for Windows 7
And now you’re telling us that you’re not introducing another Service Pack for Windows 7. We’ve been around the block with you a few times and we know this is the death knell for a system you’re trying to obsolete in favor of new products and profits.

Maybe you’re right, Microsoft. Maybe Windows 8 really is the greatest thing in the history of creation… and maybe it’s not. We really want to like you, but we’re jaded after all the promises you’ve broken. You’re going to have to try harder than Windows 8 if you want to win us back.

Sincerely, Your (Former?) Customers

Other Tech Tips articles on Windows 8 you may enjoy:

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Comments

  1. Good call, Triona!

    Thanks for taking the time to spell my thoughts out pretty much exactly. Very soon, Microsoft will have not just one, but two smoking, painful feet to deal with.

  2. You go girl, my sentiments exactly. Plus, hey, your writing style is always a refreshing read.

    Doug

  3. Thanks, Don and Doug – I am shocked at how blatantly Microsoft is ignoring public opinion on this one. They must have stocked their focus groups with yes-men because everyone in the real world thinks they’re nuts for alienating their customer base. Time will tell!

  4. Albatross says:

    P.S. When I can just hit the Desktop button and find myself looking at what is essentially Windows XP, I have to ask myself what exactly you’ve been doing with your billions of dollars over the past ten years. Apple introduced the iPad and the iPhone. Linux introduced Ubuntu. Google introduced Android. All of these were in one way or another innovative.

    But it appears to me that the new touchy-swipey interface is just another poorly-thought-out application from a company that apparently made a deal with the Devil for its success by sacrificing forever the ability to design a user interface. And this touchy-swipey interface is simply layered atop the old XP operating system that you’ve been recycling since you stole the whole desktop-and-icon from Apple or Xerox or Amiga, I kind of lose track after all these decades.

    There’s still a Windows folder. And at the bottom of the Windows folder there’s still a C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc directory that betrays the Unix-y origins of Windows 3.11, complete with a “hosts.” file to which, after all these decades, I STILL cannot assign a default editing application because it’s the one file on the system without a three letter suffix.

    And until ANY of this changes, you’re still basically selling Windows XP in a posh frock. Or Windows NT in a frock and a nice car. Or Windows 3.11 in a Rockettes chorus line with choreography by Busby-Berkeley. In the end it’s just the same crap operating system with the same rickety fundamentals that will prevent it from ever being truly secure or reliable.

    You arguably used to lead, but now you follow. Everybody’s making a tablet, so let’s write an interface application that is kind of like a tablet, and distribute “apps” instead of “applications” and do so with a “store.” And so a couple years late, you’ve got something that looks like a draft version of Android.

    Apple’s innovating. Google’s innovating. Those open-source Linux hippies are innovating.

    Dear Windows, have you considered… innovating?

  5. Patricia D. says:

    Triona,
    Thanks for such a great letter. I’m 100% behind you. Just thinking about upgrading to version 8 gives me hives. On a daily basis, I’m thrilled to have my PC work with only mild delays and all the software working at a speed that makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something. I’m not sure what the next upgrade will be, but taking hours of time to figure stuff out won’t make me a happy customer.

  6. Albatross – I couldn’t agree more about the hosts file, can’t tell you the number of times that’s ticked me off. I’m not sure Microsoft knows how to innovate. They’ve made their billions copying others and although they’re really good at marketing, I don’t think that will save them this time. They’ve pushed people too far for too long.

    Pat – you’re very welcome. Most consumers I’ve spoken to feel just as you do, and have zero incentive to go to Win8. Microsoft’s going to have to do more than promise us fancy bells and whistles for us to buy into their latest offering.

  7. addiepray says:

    Yes, everything you said. Especially this..

    “Don’t tell us we’ll learn to love it. We don’t have time. If we have to learn something new, we might as well go over to Apple and see what the fuss is about Macs.”

    I think Microsoft just sold me a Mac.

  8. I think Microsoft just sold a lot of Macs. IMO they are seriously underestimating the anger of their established user base. People were reluctant to upgrade to Vista, especially when the problems came to light, and it took an enormous effort to convince them that Windows 7 wasn’t going to be the same thing. Now Microsoft is trying to convince us, AGAIN, that their latest is indeed the greatest. There’s only so much that consumers will take. You can’t continually change the interface and expect people to go along with it.

  9. Sherril Stewart says:

    I jumped over to a iMac, love it so far. Easily upgraded to 12 Gb RAM for 50.00. I’m running Parallels Desktop for my old Windows programs like Office that I don’t want to pay for another license for Mac. When I created my first virtual machine it came with a free Windows 8 license, so tried it. After that “experience” I was so glad I bought a Mac. I’m a Windows guru, software engineer, and I could not figure out how to do anything with Windows 8. Microsoft is trying to make their OS look like an iPhone????

  10. JAMES L. LOCKHART says:

    I HAVE BEEN A MICROSOFT FAN SINCE WINDOWS 3.1 AND LOVED ALL
    THE PRODUCTS EXCEPT VISTA. WINDOWS 8 HAS SENT ALL YOUR FANS TO HELL. UNLESS YOU DO SOMETHING SOON YOU WILL LOOSE A CUSTOMER OF TWENTY YEARS. GOODBY I AM LEAVING FOR APPLE
    AND MAC I HOPE YOU ENJOY WINDOWS 8 BECAUSE WE DON`T.
    I JUST FEEL BETRAYED BY A EXFRIEND.

  11. Excellent rant, I concur 100%. I’m still annoyed with the Office ribbon too.

    I went to Microcenter last week to look at the newest laptops. I found a nice one in my price range (~$800) with an Core i7, DDR3-1600, 8GB RAM, NVIDEA graphics, etc, very nice powerful. It had Windows 8 and it was my first time seeing it in person, not just reading about it.

    The salesman spent half an hour showing me how to use all the swipes and the tricks to finding all the stuff that used to be on the Start Menu, and I quietly realized that I would not be buying a new laptop because I am too old to relearn everything all over again. It wouldn’t be so bad if I was a kid, but I am already used to doing everything the “old”way which worked fine even on Windows 7 once I got used to it. Have fun Microsoft!

  12. Sherril said, “Easily upgraded to 12 Gb RAM for 50.00. I’m running Parallels Desktop for my old Windows programs like Office that I don’t want to pay for another license for Mac.” You can do that? I’m really tired of having to buy upgrades of expensive programs to interface with new versions of windows. Mac, count me in!

  13. Hi Triona,

    Thanks for sending me the invite to join your tech tips. I need to get a new computer and have heard the hype about Windows 8 as well as how many tech people hate it because it is obtuse and does not really add anything new for home and small business users. Also, I have read to use the features on Windows 8, I will need to buy a new touch screen monitor.

    However, as the hype goes, Windows versions below Windows 8 will become obsolete re: security updates and new software will eventually be incompatible with Windows versions below Windows 8. So, if I don’t want to be up the creek I need to get Windows 8 now and suffer through the learning curve.

    So, I am in a quandary. My old computer keeps sending me “low memory” messages, if I have too many windows open the page fades and locks up, and sometimes I have to shut down the computer and restart it just to keep working.

    Yet, I am by far the world’s worst technophobe, squeak by using WORD, and have no idea how an operating system works–and yes, I got sucked into VISTA because I needed a new computer when VISTA came out.

    I am on the computer 10-12 hours per day. Much of the time I am doing research becasue I am a writer and need to have many Websites open at the same time. I currently have 8 completed manuscripts on my hard drive as well as 3 more I am working on. I also have about 300 commentaries I have written and over 1,000 photos I have downloaded from the Web.

    Basically, I use the computer for my work, email, my 2 websites, and am building another website for my artwork. I am also planning to create a series of videos for Youtube.

    What I am looking for in a computer is a hard drive big enough to hold my work with a lot left over and the fastest speed I can get for opening Websites and downloading material from the Web. Also, a desk top because I have tried my wife’s laptop and type like I have fumble fingers on it.

    I have no idea about computer prices but hopefully can find something between 700-1,000 dollars.

    That said, I don’t know anyone who uses an Apple-Mac–at least they haven’t told me they do–but given the already bad reputation of Windows 8 can getting an Apple-Mac be any worse of a learning curve?

    So, my question is, “What are my options?”

  14. Deneane – Yes you can, but bear in mind you would do so by running an old version of Windows under Parallels on a Mac, meaning the Windows side still requires all the security of a normal Windows installation, and suffers from the same drawbacks (like lack of security for older Windows versions). If you’re sick of the Office grind try OpenOffice for Windows or NeoOffice for Mac, much less expensive alternatives.

  15. Jack – You’ve raised some excellent questions. I’ll be replying in an upcoming post so stay tuned!

  16. Darlene Fahey says:

    I hate windows 8. Got a new computer which the computer had it on it. I was ready to throw the computer out the window. I like the start menu. I hate it hate it hate it!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Mack Holman says:

    The advisor said my Dell 5150 laptop was compatible (3.2 HT, 2 gig Ram, UXGA screen). I paid for the download, 90% loaded, went back to the XP screen 3 times. Turned off, back on, laptop goes to new logo, says I must restart- which does not work. Talk to tech, insists if I buy the full version it will work perfectly.

    I live in Oregon, CD sent to Texas, 1 1/2 weeks to get to my dead computer. Load CD, same message, HD locked up. By now I have 10+ hours into this, dead computer. New tech, asked if I could exchange 8 for 7, he said yes, he took control, 5 hours later he admitted he could not get it to work. Another tech promises me that next day I could buy 7 at $99.99, does not get back in touch, talk to their store, they say cannot get 7 must return CD for refund, another 1 1/2 weeks, meanwhile my computer is dead, Microsoft says only hope is to reload XP, don’t have the reinstallation disk anymore. Bait and switch, took my money twice, killed my computer, guess they figured I would buy a new 8 computer- I will go with ubuntu or Apple, Microsoft can rot in hell

  18. Rebecca Wey says:

    On the touchy swipey thing, it is definitely the future, my kids are so used to it on their various devices, that the little one keeps trying to change the channel on the tv by swiping the screen!!!

  19. So if Microsoft just sold you a mac… Which if you haven’t been there is another OS to learn why not just learn Windows 8? If you’re in IT and don’t expect nor embrace change you’re in the wrong field. 8 is easy to use. You do have a start menu it’s just a screen now. Everyone makes it out to be this huge change but I don’t ever remember looking at my start menu all day, why would I look at the start screen all day? I think the big picture most people are missing is this looks the same on all windows devices. I have tiles for mobile but if I still need my desktop it’s still there. Heck I use 8 just like I used 7. Windows key then type what I want. That’s a lot easier than Start>programs>program folder>program.

  20. MC – It may not be a huge change for you or me, but it is for some people. In my career as a tech specialist I’ve met many people for whom even moving a single desktop icon is drastic. My point is that Microsoft isn’t making it easy for consumers to embrace Windows 8, and their sales numbers reflect it.

    Now, if they had paired the introduction of the let’s-not-call-it-Metro interface with their mighty marketing prowess and rolled out a whole slew of ads and articles and videos and tip sheets on how to actually USE Windows 8, in a real world setting, that might have helped. They have some stuff but it’s buried and most people don’t know to look for it, plus it tends to be more market-y: “Look at the snazzy new features” instead of “Here’s how the snazzy new features work”. People have heard plenty of PR about how great Windows 8 is but not a whole lot of concrete help.

    Personally, I like Windows 8 from a technical standpoint. It’s a neat interface and does some things better than iOS and Android, plus (for the IT nerds) having some policy control over BYOD is essential. But that doesn’t help the consumer figure out how to use the device.

  21. My thoughts exactly… Its frightening how cattle-like they think we are. One, single irritation that I have NO WAY of turning off is making me want to throw my computer out the window and go on a murdering spree. (You know that one where every time you touch the left side of the mousepad, it changes your screen?) Yeah, my PC settings menu isn’t available so I’m stuck with that until somebody miraculously figures out how to turn it off; no doubt spending hours using the USELESS search function along the way until by an act of god a random menu they happen to click on shows them the on/off slider.

    Its not like it doesn’t run but sweet Jesus Microsoft… Its full of little bedcorners that you always stub your toes on – and the bed is nailed to the floor, so you have to deal with it til you move out.

  22. ALSO, my Age of Empires 2 disc (yeah, I’m old school) runs as an audio disk so I’m out a game. Microsoft owes me $15, cheap bastards…

  23. Everyday, non-tech users, you’re not alone. The tech guys hate it just as much.

  24. So do the tech gals. I’d rather crimp RJ-45s with my bare teeth than work a tech desk supporting Win8. Not because of the OS itself which, as I said, does have some technical merits, but because it’s so difficult for anyone to use and there are no resources to help them (unless we tech people write ’em ourselves).

  25. Amen! Thanks for writing such a concise (and also entertaining) critique. I’m sharing your post with EVERYONE. And here is my post to Facebook. Please, everyone, share it if you agree.

    Dear Microsoft,
    I called Support today to ask where to send general feedback, as I am very dissatisfied with my new computer’s operating system. I am aware that I’m in good company, but don’t feel it is fair that I have to pay more to go back to an older, more user-friendly environment.

    When I called today, I was initially unable to get through to an English-fluent representative and I ended up having to talk about this problem in Spanish in order to get help from a representative who could speak to me in “American.”

    I was told to submit my feedback to the feedback link for issues on Privacy. Now I’m even more disappointed in Microsoft, because my comment/feedback has nothing to do with privacy.

    It appears to me that Microsoft management isn’t interested in hearing from consumers. That said, I will remain open-minded for a few weeks. If someone contacts me, I will be receptive and fair.

    But here is my prediction:
    It’s likely that Microsoft isn’t going to work with me on this issue, because the fix is to let me go back to a platform that is currently selling like hotcakes. Why are older versions selling at more than the original asking price? Because I’m not the only customer who is utterly fed up with Windows 8. Microsoft is selling older versions for more than the original asking price, and I am starting to believe that was the point of Windows 8. I understand the argument that an applications platform is sensible, because pads, phone, e-readers and so forth use it. But I doubt Microsoft is surprised by the unpopularity of Window 8, and I predict that the company will only assist me by pointing toward the nearest retailer.

  26. Opinions on Windows 8 haven’t improved since I originally wrote this post. Most of the people I know who have it ended up with it on a new computer and are not happy. The only people I know who like it are tech-savvy, wanted to play with it, and knew they were getting into a brand-new untried OS that might not work.

    With the Windows XP lifecycle deadline of April 2014 (meaning that’s when security patches end)… I am very concerned about the average consumer’s ability to withstand computer viruses and Internet threats if they don’t upgrade… but they are expected to upgrade to a system they can’t use? This is not a recipe for success, Microsoft.

    (a link to Microsoft’s end-of-life policy on Windows XP)

    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/enterprise/endofsupport.aspx

  27. Seta Sera says:

    I agree with in principal because l ave some PC knowledge. I liked XP and got annoyed when Microsoft messed with that. I bypassed vista & others then went onto Win 7 which l love. Only a short time after purchasing this l hear about yet another operating system win 8 and now 8.1…
    what the!!!! Tried it and immediately went back to my Win 7…
    Not happy with their tactics of not supporting a system to force you into buying their newest one. No more to say other tan when support stops for 7, l will look elsewhere, i.e Apple…

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