Microsoft Alienates Customers With Forced Windows 10 Upgrades

win10Microsoft is facing public backlash for automatically upgrading the computers of unsuspecting customers to Windows 10.

Since public outcry Microsoft has reversed course, claiming that the forced installations were due to their accidentally making the Windows 10 upgrade checked by default. In theory, this means that there should be no more forced upgrades.

But the antagonism Microsoft is generating through such aggressive marketing methods is eroding customer goodwill. Microsoft has certainly been pushy about those “Get Windows 10” messages on Windows 7 and Windows 8 computers. And they’ve demonstrated aggressive Windows 10 tactics in the past, when they downloaded the Win10 installers onto computers without the user’s knowledge. So it didn’t come as much of a surprise to the IT community when reports began to trickle in that Microsoft had taken it one step further and actually performed system upgrades without user consent.

Microsoft Alienates And Frustrates Their Customers
Who wants to do business with a company that dictates when and how you upgrade your computer? Microsoft’s tactics show a vast disregard for the people who actually have to rely on their computers in real-world situations.

If you’ve ever upgraded your computer, you know things fail. Programs stop working. Devices stop working. Things are hectic until you’ve tested and re-tested everything. Even then, weeks later, you’ll stumble across something else to fix. I never upgrade without making several backups first. Microsoft didn’t even give people that chance before plunking Windows 10 in their laps.

Not only is this going to alienate their customer base, it makes people not want the software. People may start associating “Windows 10” with “aggressive marketing tactics” and steer clear. How are consumers supposed to believe tech security experts when we tell them to upgrade for their own safety? They’ll think we’re doing it for the same reasons Microsoft is foisting Win10 onto their computers: to keep them in the Windows ecosystem so they’ll buy more MicroStuff.

Upgrades Are Necessary, But Not Like This
Now, I’m all for upgrading, in certain circumstances. If you’re on Windows XP, for example, it’s long past time you did. Older software can’t run current antivirus, can’t run a modern Web browser, can’t receive security updates. Even Windows 7 is fairly long in the tooth at this point. From a security standpoint you really should be running Windows 8 or Windows 10. But I don’t want people to upgrade to cost them money or to make their lives difficult. I want them to upgrade because I don’t want them to suffer the financial loss and identity theft that comes with a severely infected computer. Trust me. I’ve seen it and it’s not pretty.

But forcing system software onto unwitting end users is unheard-of. You don’t pester users to upgrade. You don’t stealthily download installers onto their computers, taking up pricey bandwidth and drive space. And you certainly don’t upgrade somebody’s computer to an entirely new operating system without at least giving them the chance to opt out!

What Could Microsoft Do Instead?
Instead of aggressive marketing tactics, MS should spend their time and money educating users on why they need to upgrade older computers for security’s sake. But Microsoft would rather spend their time and money on ridiculous ads like “PC Does Whaaat?”, a collaborative effort between Microsoft, Intel, HP, Dell, and Lenovo geared towards encouraging more PC sales. According to the AP, this ad campaign cost $70 million.

I wonder how far $70 million would go towards helping consumers understand the necessity of upgrading — on their own terms.

Don’t forget to sign up to receive Tech Tips by email and get the latest computer news straight to your inbox. You can also follow Tech Tips on Facebook and @trionaguidry on Twitter for more computer help for PC and Mac.

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:

Want to give Microsoft a piece of your mind over Windows 8? Share in the comments!

Five Ways To Make Sure No One EVER Subscribes To Your Email Newsletter

No one’s signing up for your email newsletter? Maybe you’re not doing it right. Here are the top five ways for you to beat customers over the head with your marketing message.

5. Give them a hard sell.
There’s nothing like receiving an email that screams, “BUY MY PRODUCT!” Forget about drawing them in with valuable content they will find useful and want to share.

4. Use bright colors and funky fonts
The brighter, the better. If Curiosity can’t see it from Mars, it’s not worth sending.

3. Spam your newsletter to every single person in your professional organization. (chamber of commerce, networking group, book club)
After all, you joined these groups to network, right? So that gives you permission to bombard them with your nifty newsletter about widgets. Never mind that most of them aren’t in the market for widgets. Those who are will surely love your unsolicited spam, and those who aren’t couldn’t possibly offer you anything useful, like qualified referrals.

2. Spam your newsletter to every single person… again.
They didn’t sign up the first time. Maybe they didn’t get the newsletter and would like another one? This one’s different… it says BUY MY PRODUCT NOW instead of BUY MY PRODUCT. Also, the colors are even brighter!

And the number one way to guarantee people will despise your email newsletter:

1. Subscribe people instead of inviting them.
Because everyone loves getting inundated with junk they didn’t ask for, particularly when it’s blatantly obvious you’re doing exactly what your professional organization told you not to do: mass-subscribing everyone from the Excel spreadsheet they provided.  Inviting people and asking them to verify their subscription by replying to a confirmation email – waste of time! Yours, anyway.

This post is dedicated to the most recent company to add me to their list without my permission. They managed to make every single one of these mistakes, and they will never get an ounce of business from me.

If you don’t want potential customers to react the same way, have some respect for them and their inboxes. Email marketing is an exceptional way to build your business, but it can also be an exceptional way to stifle it.

Why Your Blog Needs A Makeover (Plus, A New Look For Tech Tips!)

When was the last time you updated your blog’s design? If your blog or web site is outdated, it’s time to consider a new look.

Many people think designing a web site or a blog is a one-time deal. “Yay, my web site is done!” But your site should be dynamic. While consistency is important in marketing, so is freshness. You need modern features to stay competitive and grow your readership.

As you can see, I recently went through this process with Tech Tips. The new design features improved search features – just click your category in the upper right, or you can search by keyword. It also has improved social media integration and, under the hood, SEO features and security.

But you can’t just stick any old template on your site. A little planning can help you find the right combination of design and content.

Who is my audience?
If you run a blog, presumably you know your target audience through statistics and analysis. The design of your blog should be consistent with the audience you want to attract. A simple, professional look is best for a business blog, but a blog for, say, 18-25 year old wakeboarders should look very different from those geared to 40-something parents or senior citizens who like Star Wars.

I went with a peaceful theme in teal and white. Tech Tips is intended to help small business and home users with their computers, so ease of use is vital.

What is my audience seeking?
Since you know your audience, you should also know what they want. And this may be very different from what you think they want. Otherwise, you might be posting about car transmissions when they want to know about blueberry muffins.

I chose features based on analysis of my audience. People who are having trouble with their computers want quick answers, so I put the solutions – searchable by category or keyword – at the top. I added additional information in the sidebar, and made sure the headlines were easy to read.

One of the important things for my site is my Twitter feed. Tech news happens fast, and Twitter is a great way for me to keep people apprised. So my Twitter feed has a prominent place in the sidebar.

How can I help my audience?
What makes you different from others who do the same thing? How are you uniquely qualified to help?

I specialize in explaining technical concepts – sometimes advanced ones – to people who are not tech-savvy. My blog is not full of arcane jargon or needless information. For example, when talking about the recent LinkedIn breach I could have gone into nauseating detail about encryption and salted hashes, but the important thing was telling my readers to use strong, unique passwords. The same thinking went into my redesign.

The last, but perhaps most important, reason to redesign your blog is the need to modernize. More people are accessing the Internet via mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, but old blog templates aren’t mobile-ready. Social media integration is another vital feature that has been improved.

Have you redesigned your blog lately? What was your process and how did you like the results? What do you think of the Tech Tips redesign? Share in the comments!



How NOT To Subscribe People To Your Email Marketing List

Although social media is rampant, email lists are still a core of online marketing. But there are some ground rules that people still don’t seem to understand.

First, let it be known that there is a proper way to add people to your e-newsletter.

Invite, Don’t Subscribe!

Do not ever subscribe someone without their permission. This is the number-one way to lose subscribers, even customers. It’s tacky, it’s unprofessional, and it’s against spam laws. Which is better, a list full of people who unsubscribe angrily, or a list full of people who are excited to hear what you have to say?

How do you invite instead of subscribing? Set up your mailing list software so that people must reply to a confirmation email in order to be added to the list. Subscribing is therefore in their hands; if they reply they are subscribed, if they don’t they’re not. Believe me, you will get far more subscribers this way than if you automatically add everybody in sight.

Here are some other email marketing pitfalls to avoid:

Not using mailing list software
If you are maintaining your email list with an Excel file or an Outlook address book, stop right now. There are far better methods that will take away the onus of manually managing subscribes and unsubscribes. Constant Contact is one of the most common ways to do this.

Pestering people to join
I ask folks all the time if they want to subscribe to my email list – but I also take no for an answer. If someone chooses not to subscribe I encourage them in more subtle ways, perhaps by forwarding a link to a post I think might interest them.

Marketing aggressively
If your e-newsletter is nothing but “buy buy buy” no one will want to read it. Be a valuable source of information and keep the selling to a minimum. By providing timely information on a particular topic, people will know what you do and seek you out when they need your help.

Drowning them with your wit
Yes, I realize your last newsletter made an incredibly clever quip about Elvis, but don’t send it out twelve million times. Set expectations with your readers as to how often you’ll post and what kind of content they’ll receive. You can repeat content occasionally, but don’t drown them in it.

Hiding the unsubscribe option
This is also against spam laws. Give people a convenient way to opt out. Losing subscribers is inevitable, and you have to accomodate that. Of course you want your subscribe buttons to take top billing!

Throwing your business card at someone in passing, without saying a word
Happened to me at a networking mixer. Seriously.

Is there a future in e-newsletters, given the rise of social media? I think there is, for the time being. People receive information from many sources, so you should spread your content as far as you can. Facebook, Twitter, and your e-newsletter can all work together to bring you traffic from a variety of sources.

Naturally, after an article like this I simply must ask if you’re interested in subscribing to Tech Tips by email. Plus, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @trionaguidry for breaking computer news and other geeky stuff.

How do you encourage email list subscribers? Share in the comments!