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microsoft sucksIn 2011 I wrote an op-ed piece (for a different website…!) about how I felt that Microsoft had moved away from being the many-tentacled corporate beast with no interest in providing a solid, working operating system and every interest in raping dollars out of customers.

I argued that after the failure of Windows Vista, Microsoft had emerged as a company in touch with its user base, listening and almost caring. A case in point was the unprecedented granting of an audience with the developers of Windows Phone to the ChevronWP7 team, whose interest in maintaining a homebrew community (a thriving developer base had formed around the old Windows Mobile platform) and offering an unlock tool was – remarkably – given consideration and accepted.

It might be one of the technology industry’s ironies that Microsoft’s best product (Windows Phone) is the one that is selling the least, but generally speaking, everything that seemed to me to be good about Microsoft 12 months ago is quickly slipping away…

A PR-Driven Façade?

Has the smiley Joe Belfiore-lead Windows Phone love-in tainted my judgement, or has Microsoft genuinely lurched from being a corporate giant with a bad reputation to a nice, happy, family-oriented provider of useful desktop, gaming and mobile operating systems (with the obvious corporate side going unspoken) and then back again in the space of 18 months?

Has it all been a PR trick, performed to protect the formative steps of Windows Phone and the Metro UI?

microsoft sucks

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This certainly seems likely. In hindsight, it seems Microsoft were being extremely generous with a system that could be (and probably has been) used to run pirated software on its phones. While there are plenty of useful homebrew tools available, however, the use of the ChevronWP7 unlock has been largely limited to enthusiasts and those of us requiring screenshot tools.

But as it becomes clear that Metro is increasingly important to Windows Phone, it seems ever clearer that Microsoft was merely protecting its new UI. Subsequently Metro has appeared on Xbox 360 and will soon be gaining popularity – or, more likely, notoriety – as the main feature of Windows 8.

Caring Family Oriented Microsoft vs The Truth

You’ve probably seen those “I’m a PC” adverts, the Windows Live Essentials commercials and the fun Windows Phone promos, that all paint Microsoft in slightly different ways. A result of the Vista debacle, they centre in Windows 7.

Let’s get this straight first of all: Windows 7 is the most secure, stable and confident operating system release from Microsoft yet. Like Windows 98 SE and Windows XP Service Pack 2 it has grabbed its user base by being competent. It’s arguably better than Mac OS X, the first time that a Windows OS has been able to claim this, and its use continues to grow. The adverts have been a success.

Which is why the continued insistence by Microsoft to keep pushing forward with a single operating system UI for Windows 8 across desktop, laptop, tablet and hybrid devices seems all the more ridiculous.

Want a Touch Screen Desktop Monitor? I Thought Not…

There seems little justification in forcing users to use an uncomfortable touch screen desktop display for Windows 8 in order to get the most out of the OS, and little sense in pushing Metro as the only UI.

While business users have expressed concern over the day-to-day desktop ability of the implementation of Metro in Windows 8, Microsoft has continued to ignore the concerns of its biggest market. Redmond knows best, see?

Of course, Microsoft has an ulterior motive in ensuring that Metro survives Windows 8. In order to reduce OS development costs in future they’re planning to issue a single OS across computers, consoles and phones. But a touch screen desktop monitor? This is madness!

In the post-Kinect era, monitors with that motion capture technology built in seem more appropriate. And what is wrong with a desktop touch pad, as seen with the recent Apple computers?

The Mask Slips Towards Disaster

why microsoft is bad

As Microsoft continues its march towards a single platform at all costs, I have a bad feeling about Windows 8.

It’s a brilliant UI for tablets and hybrids, but absolutely pointless for a desktop computer. Without the facility to disable Metro, this makes Windows 8 nothing more than an expensive UI overlay, something that many users – corporate and home – will have already spotted.

Many people have noticed the “alternative release” pattern of Microsoft Windows over the years. As revolutionary and impressive as Metro and Windows 8 are in context, 2012 looks set to be another bad year; it might even be worse than 2007 and the release of Vista.

Did Microsoft Ever Stop Sucking?

microsoft sucks

Looking back on 2010 and 2011, it seemed that Steve Ballmer – a character who is regularly mocked, despite his successes – had put the right people in place to help Microsoft overcome its bad press. The ChevronWP7 situation was a key example of this, as was the wonderful use of Metro UI in Windows Phone 7.

However, while high profile, these seem like mere blips. A dogged determination to disregard the concerns of the very people expected to use Windows 8 is potentially damaging. But, do you know what? I think Microsoft genuinely did stop sucking for a few months. I think they really did believe what their adverts were telling us and the company made some very good noises.

The problem is, they didn’t like the noises coming from the critics and rather than take the feedback on board with Windows 8, they’re pushing forward with an OS that no desktop user wants. And that sucks.

Steve Ballmer Image Credit: Off2riorob | Xbox 360 Image Credit: Jericho1337

  1. Leo
    October 28, 2012 at 7:04 am

    Download Stardock Start8 for Windows 8... You'll never have to see the Metro UI ever again, get your Win7 start menu back fully functional. Problem solved :| reap the other benefits of Windows 8

  2. Rob Ainscough
    October 8, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Windows 8 will be an epic fail for Microsoft, much more so than Vista. And here is why:

    1. Windows XP is still used by the majority of Windows users, Windows 7 if finally reaching WinXP user base count, only just now in 2012. People just don't move that quickly and especially if you tell them they need to buy a touch screen monitor to get the most out of Windows 8.

    2. Desktop computers are an estimated 1.5+ Billion units, with 353 million new desktop computers sold last year (2011) ... now compare that with mobile operating systems (iPad, Tablets, Smartphones) that actually decreased in 2012 (428 million units in 2011 down to 419 million units in 2012) -- in other words the growth is starting to stop and stabilize -- far short of "everyone wants mobile".

    3. Extreme's, everyone is going mobile -- false statement/assumption -- it's the human condition, you get an explosive growth in a technology segment and then the assumption is made that EVERYONE is going this direction. No different from DOT.COM era where everyone HAD to have a web site and huge investments it junk.

    4. Microsoft are triggering from growth trends rather than taking into consideration the entire market from top to bottom over a long history. It's almost a child's response to a new toy, rather than a well thought out technology direction.

    5. Touch screen UI on a desktop is going to be a HOT experience for your fingers, definitely will be more stress to your arms/back and ultimately is a MUCH slower process of getting something done vs. mouse & keyboard.

    6. Can you see sales for glass cleaner skyrocketing?? ... it doesn't take long before a touch screen becomes a giant unreadable mess of finger prints, smudges, and other nasty human contact elements (it's already like this on Tablets and phones).

    7. Windows 8 UI is not efficient for desktop use -- the majority of Microsoft's user base, why would anyone move to Windows 8? There is NO incentive.

    8. Android has 64% market share, iOS 18%, Microsoft 2.7% mobile ... so Microsoft are going to release Win8 to make 2.7% mobile folks happy?? That's just bad business -- you compromise 97% of your user base - that's crazy!

    9. And then we have real limitations of mobile networks -- these are real physical limitations with no "fixes/updates/upgrades" to come within the next 20-30 years. Most mobile service providers can barely hand 3G traffic, let alone 4G LTE. And getting a stable 4G LTE signal ... good luck.

    The only way you'll get folks off WinXP or Win7 is if Microsoft release an "update" that starts to make the OS fail or not work so well with new technologies like USB 3, Thunderbolt, etc. -- this is how Apple gets folks to buy new iPhones, they release a new iOS version that cripple's their older technology phones. Problem here is that Microsoft isn't selling much hardware.

    Ignorance isn't bliss, and Windows 8 might just be the final straw that broke the camel's back -- I honestly don't understand why Ballmer is still heading up MS. Most CEOs would be voted off the island with so many repeated years on flat lining and regular product failures.

    • Glen
      October 15, 2012 at 7:46 am

      I totaly agree wth u Rob! Most Windows users r still using XP n only recently hav started moving to Windows 7 cos it's in many ways a great improvement on XP and even allows simulating the best features of XP thru Windows 7. I myself started using Win 7 abt a year back, but still hav XP as a dual boot option on my HD. Few folks wud start wanting 2 use such a drastically different OS like Win 8, which has several shortcomings n takes a lot of time 2 get used 2 n at least 2 me isn't very visually appealing either! However, I jst think Microsoft r being true 2 their usual alternate Hit n Shit approach 2 Windows versions! Windows 9 shud b better than this!

  3. hoppy
    October 8, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I simply can't believe some people's views in calling this article bad or non professional!
    A think he has hit the nail right on the head, Windows 8 for a desktop is a complete waste of time and money and a step in the wrong direction for people who actually use a pc to get work done.
    Anyone who thinks 8 is a proper upgrade from 7 on a desktop needs a check above the neck and clearly has no clue about at what they are on about..

    A ran 8 for a few weeks on my old desktop and a have to say it was awful, having a OS with a split personality was hard work.
    Am sure on a tablet it will do fine so why did MS not just build a tablet OS for a tablet device rather than a one size fits all OS, am sure virus coders nearly wet themselves at that news.

    Why have MS not allowed me to switch off Metro and enable my usual start menu, are MS taking a leaf from Apple's book, bad idea, Apple users are very different from Windows users.
    However credit to Apple for producing a tablet that people actually wanted, it has a nice tweaked light OS with an app store powering it, Apple don't have to worry about dragging a 1000 years of legacy apps or dictate to 90% of desktop users that this is the way to go.
    Remember when MS introduced radical change with Vista, it was hated and killed off yet 8 isn't radical, its just plain stupid and it will be rejected by desktop and business users, expect 9 to be out sometime in 2013/14..

  4. Mike C
    September 18, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    "It’s arguably better than Mac OS X, the first time that a Windows OS has been able to claim this"

    I'd like to hear the argument.

    • Comebackmini
      September 30, 2012 at 3:40 pm

      I thought the article was fine. Excellent point on Microsft trying to save money with this single platform. Its not about consumers at all. Windows will never be better than iOS! PC users are converting everyday. It's just not Microsoft's time anymore. Microsoft is a law firm not a technology company. Apple will take it from here...Thanks for Windows 95!

  5. crunchbang linux
    September 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm
  6. Alexandre
    September 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    I dont like metro interface, Microsoft should tell what we will gonna do with my mouse?

    • Rishabh
      September 17, 2012 at 4:49 am

      You can use it just like any other version of windows. For a desktop user the metro UI, I think, is like a very updated start menu. I suggest try the preview and then start talking about where to use your mouse

  7. John Doe
    September 8, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    I am a technology enthusiasm. I work with computers using different operating system everyday, both client and server. I do programming, troubleshooting, repair and setup. I just love what i do.

    IMO: This is evolution. Nobody like when you change something. The GUI as we are used to know it; the pointing device is just not adapted to mobile/tablet device. While I impersonally can understand the argument of the "PC user" the fact is that the end-user will like. He/she will like not having to scratch her head to understand how the GUI works. This is a end to obnoxious GUI (at least i hope so). If all platform use the same GUI, it will be more simpler for anyone considering a computer as a tool.

  8. Usman Mubashir
    September 8, 2012 at 7:52 am

    To tell the truth, the article DOES have some points, but seriously, MS Win 8 is nat a disaster for desktops as it suggests. I've used this OS on my desktop, which is not a touch-screen supporting system, and I find the new interface very easy to use and indeed more productive. I think MS knows what they are doing/

  9. Dan
    August 31, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    To Mr. Cawley: I've got it, you are paid by- the -word. Just how many pictures of yourself do you need on one page?

  10. Subhom Mitra
    July 18, 2012 at 7:57 am

    IMHO, MakeUseOf is certainly not a place to post personal opinions as featured articles. I second Rob. Really unbecoming of MUO.

  11. Seraphim
    July 4, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    How did the author of this drivel manage to stop [xxx] long enough to write out this whole thing?

    • Christian Cawley
      July 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      That's pretty offensive!

      Why don't you check out a bit more about the Windows 7, Xbox 360 and Windows Phone loving author before you start commenting?

  12. GodSponge
    June 25, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Windows phone is definitely last on my list of phone OSs. The UI that is so praised is the primary reason I hate it. I don't like the way Microsoft has been ignoring their users with regards to Windows 8 either, but I'm still probably going to buy a Surface Pro tablet when they come out. It will be the first time I can run REAL apps on a tablet.

    • Christian Cawley
      June 25, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      Given that WP7 and W8/WP8 have essentially the same UI, this is a baffling comment.

      • GodSponge
        June 26, 2012 at 2:10 am

        It's not really all that baffling. I hate the metro UI in WP7, WP8 and Windows 8. The last part of my comment is that I am happy that I can now use full windows software on a tablet. Doesn't change the comment about hating the interface.

  13. Nik
    June 5, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    "One OS to rule them all, One OS to find them,
    One OS to bring them all and in the darkness bind them." -(author unknown)

    From what I've seen of Windows 8, it's highly praised innovation seem a whole lot like WebOS on the palm Pre. I suspect, however, that Microsoft's long term goal is to force all users into a subscription software service, so they will have user lock-in. Thet tried before with palladium, now they are pushing cloud computing as if they invented, because it will enable theme to hold your data hostage if you fail to pay your subscription.

    A few years ago, Microsoft bought WebTV from Philips. WebTV units were web terminals that used a Tv as a monitor. They connected through an on board dial up modem and were tied to the WebTV service. Microsoft renamed the service MsnTV, and later integrated the web terminal functions into a set top cable box. some of the units had hard drives, most did not, but in either case, you could only access your data while connected to MsnTV. The service also required the user to give up certain privacy rights to use the service. Another problem was that MsnTV's management was very intolerant of any and all complaints, often revoking user access for a bad review.
    I, for one, am concerned that Windows 8 is an incremental step toward a subscription software service, and as such is an attempt of repeating the (lack of) success of MsnTV.

  14. themainliner
    June 3, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    Windows 7 is a massive step back in terms of stability. I have to ask if the writer has used Windows 7 in a commercial environment because Windows XP appears rock solid compared to it.

    As for questioning the wisdom of a consistent GUI across all platforms the debate is over a year old in the Linux community just take a look at the Gnome3\Ubuntu Unity debacle.

    With it's increasing focus on mobile device apps and un- or badly informed drivel of this kind I'm beginning to question the value of maintaining a subscription and wading through all this second rate crap.

  15. Prakash Senapati
    June 3, 2012 at 8:38 am

    desktop monitors future
    touch - worst >>>> nothing to do here
    smart interaction -- as done by samsung ,kinect
    atleast from gaming point of view in a widows desktop pc

  16. Eric
    June 3, 2012 at 3:36 am

    You're wrong on so many levels...

  17. Terafall
    June 1, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    I can't bring myself to like Windows 8.With so many changes,they also bring more and more bloatware.The new start menu is killing my productivity,the ribbon in windows explorer is useless,the shutdown button should at least be at the start menu,older pc can't use the touch screen

    I think I'll won't be using Windows 8 until someone managed to hack or create software to change all that

  18. Bill Mack
    June 1, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    "arguably better than Mac OS X"? Have you much experience dealing with OS X? It is clean, elegant, fast, powerful as hell, predictably uniform, and doesn't crash. I don't think the average computerphile could ask for anything more. I work in MS world but live and love in OS X and Linux/Unix world.

    I have found Windows phone to be non-intuitive and awkward. The features you highlight I find much easier to carry out on my Android. But I realize this is a subjective personal preference.

    Otherwise, great article. I agree that MS didn't suck for those few months. I also totally believe that MS is pushing a big mistake our way and may not alter course before heading over a cliff of mass rejection. I don't wish MS ill, but I wish they'd drop the arrogance and REALLY listen to consumers for a change. We'd all win that way.

  19. Mihovil Pletikos
    June 1, 2012 at 1:44 am

    i don't get it why is everybody talking how w8 sucks on normal computer.... and how bad metro is.... but it is only a start menu 2.0.... and it works perfectly on any computer i used it on.... fast and stable... without start button :)

  20. Ben
    June 1, 2012 at 1:25 am

    people will always resist change.
    I'd agree Windows 8 is not the best experience on a traditional keyboard/mouse desktop computer (based on the preview releases). But the industry is changing and it's clear that mobile, touch based devices are definitely where things are going. Windows 8 I think is a well thought out compromise, delivering both backward compatibility and a solid desktop offering, along with a more future-thinking and innovative design language (Metro) that will enable apps that span mobile, tablet and desktop with the one platform.

    • Matt Smith
      June 1, 2012 at 3:48 am

      I'm curious why you think mobile, touch based devices are definitely where things are going?

      • Ben
        June 1, 2012 at 3:58 am

        Touch is a more natural mode of human-computer interaction.
        Statistics show that laptops have overtaken desktops globally in terms of sales. There is definitely a trend toward mobility. Combine that mobility with touch and you see technology become more integrated with our lives rather than adjunct to it.
        Keyboards and mice will still be an essential productivity tool, and that's where I think Windows 8 is a reasonable balance - and it's really just a starting point.

    • ren
      August 6, 2012 at 8:12 am

      Ben nailed it right on the head. I couldn't agree more.

  21. clancolin
    June 1, 2012 at 12:24 am

    I still use Vista. While I could moan about the 4 nanoseconds it takes to allow programs to run, O see that as a small price to pay to avoid pcs becoming 'bots for spammers.

    As for Win8 touch screens, bring 'em on. I want a table like the one on Hawaii-Five-O, where I can swipe content onto a vertical screen from a horizontal screen and use the horizontal screen for drilling down to data.

    I was not a fan of MS for a very long time, but I do feel they are much more responsive to customer comments and even more innovative nowadays. i can see no sign that they are going back to the Bill Gates era.

  22. Kyem Ghosh
    June 1, 2012 at 12:20 am

    real pain man.... Justa a waste....

  23. Rose
    May 31, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    This post was not well thought out. And I agree with several posters that this seems more like a personal attack than a considered business opinion. There are plenty of people who will jump on the 'I hate MS' bandwagon just like there are many who still hate Apple, no matter how cool its products might be. Makeuseof is certainly capable of taking a more balanced approach.

  24. John
    May 31, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Here is one desktop user who can see some real advantages to "touch" on a desktop computer particularly if the hardware designers can start getting creative and produce a desktop that we can take the "screen off" and handle like a tablet when it makes sense. I'm still a little dubious about the Metro UI for every day professional use. We'll soon see.

  25. Peter S
    May 31, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Kind of agree with Rob on this one. While the Metro interface is a radical change, legacy apps will continue to run. Finding apps isn't all that different for the most part. The biggest benefit that I've seen in the previews so far has been the boot time, though. Even on a really old laptop (Pentium 4, 1GB RAM), the system starts in < 20 seconds to usability. That's a huge deal. I'd kind of appreciate seeing articles that are a bit more balanced. In this case, it looks like MS is taking another huge leap and trying to get out ahead of the next major change in technology. Just like with Windows 95, the change will likely get panned by a lot of people, but with a little "this is how it works" training it won't be too bad for most users.

  26. Bender
    May 31, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    BUT WHY! Windows ?

    Use Linux

    http://www.linuxmint.com

    • Tina
      June 6, 2012 at 8:33 pm

      Bender,

      Linux doesn't work for everyone. Depending on the hardware, it takes some skills to set it up. Also, for those who want to play games or use specific software, Linux is out of the question.

      • John
        June 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm

        That is not strictly speaking true. There are many distributions, many of which allow the installation and usage of Linux to be simple and effective. Just to give you an example Linux Mint. Also there is software to allow windows games to be played on Linux. Such as Wine or PlayOnLinux.

        • Tina
          June 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm

          True, using a virtual machine or a compatibility layer software like Wine, it's possibly to play Windows games in Linux. But again, that requires some fiddling around, which simply isn't for everyone.

        • Chris
          September 28, 2012 at 6:09 pm

          Or heres an idea, rather than going away to other Os's, we could simply have Microsoft fix whats going to be wrong with this one.

          Lol man im so funny

    • Leo
      October 28, 2012 at 7:04 am

      Cuz Linux sucks hard.

  27. kencanau
    May 31, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Seriously, I just don't get why everybody praises windows phone. Sure, it has wonderful UI, revolutionary, but at the end of the day, it's just not useable as a daily product. Doing anything on it is just a pain in the ass, the only thing the phone does is being beautiful and nothing else.

    • Christian Cawley
      June 1, 2012 at 6:55 am

      Well, it makes phone calls, keeps all me emails in one easy to get to place and lets me spread them out, sends text messages in threaded conversations that can switch to Live or Facebook... I can take photos, record HD movies, stream music, keep appointments... in fact with Windows Phone I can do anything I can with any other platform.

      You just made what can only be described as a "non-point"

  28. Rob
    May 31, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    While this was an interesting read, the immaturity of the article is not becoming of makeuseof.

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