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Why Paul Thurrott is right about the current state of Windows

OK so I had to wade deep into this one because well, it’s what I do.  🙂

A few days ago, blogs and Twitter blew up because Paul Thurrott, respected Windows analyst/blogger had a frustrated rant on his blog.

The post which had the awesome title “What the heck is happening to Windows?” had Paul reaching the heights of frustration as he watches the cluster..I mean the new features and enhancements being added to Windows 8.1 Update 1.

Now there has been some controversy on Twitter because if you sift through his older articles, you can see apparent contradictions to what he is saying now.

Like most situations in life, it’s not that simple.

Disclaimer: I have met Mr. Thurrott at several conferences and I think he is one of the funniest and nicest people you will meet in this business. One of the funniest for sure. He is very level headed and friendly in person.

I will (unfortunately) have to play armchair shrink for a little bit because his obvious frustration with Windows hit very close to home for me.

How this began

When Microsoft announced they were taking a big bet and making radical changes to Windows, a lot of people were excited. Heck I was excited enough to start this blog you are reading now 5 years ago, even before the announcements.

It was refreshing that Microsoft was about to shake things up and change the game. A lot of us were excited that Android and Apple would (FINALLY) have some competition and we would see real choice in the marketplace.

Then came the unveiling and all the Windows 8 Previews.

Really-FrustratedIt became clear at that point that while it was a good effort, there were MAJOR structural deficiencies that were clear to everyone.

It was a little too much at one time.

Ironically, the company that did so much public testing did so much ignoring of the public feedback. They chose instead to focus on obvious benefits like startup speed and a pretty amazing install/upgrade process.

They chose to ignore obvious distress about the Start button and the distress starting in a TOTALLY new environment would cause for the average user on the street.

Then came Windows RT and we know where the story goes…..

The fact of the matter is that over time, the entire enterprise has been shown to be a failure.

A failure not because people aren’t buying it or using it (some are and I get a LOT of anecdotal feedback from readers on this blog who really like it), it was a failure because collectively as a society, this software made a bad impression upon introduction.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

It failed because it didn’t “change the game” and really didn’t give Apple or Google any pause at all.

It failed because it wasn’t something people HAD to HAVE. They could (as I predicted) simply stay with Windows 7.

This failure happened slowly over a period of two years and even people who were collectively rooting for Microsoft had the enthusiasm sucked out of them.

I have to speak personally as a blogger and say it’s hard to day in and day out try to be objective about something that’s obviously not working.

This is because every technology blogger has an inherent conflict.

On one hand you owe the software vendor some space to see if their risk will pay off but on the other hand you need to be brutally honest when it’s clear it hasn’t. Blending of those two should result in objectivity but this is not a perfect world and it’s really hard to do.

So as we see Microsoft make “changes” to Windows 8.1 in this new update, Mr. Thurrott correctly points out that the Operating System is becoming a Frankenstein of sorts. Part Windows 8, Part Windows 7, part Windows 8.1, part future and part retreat from the future.

He’s right.

What we are seeing is Microsoft put a band aid on the patients cancer, and whisper to the nurse “This one’s done for, we’ll get em next time”.

The truth is Windows 9 is where Microsoft have to put their attention now.

Satya and Bill have to go back to the drawing board and do a comprehensive autopsy. Learn all the lessons, start over and pray the marketplace will be attentive to a new OS.

There’s a lot of intellectual capital from Windows 8 that will come in useful but the truth is, people didn’t respond to it and Microsoft need to try again.

If Windows 9 is just Windows 8.1 update 4, turn the light off, it’s over.

Once again, Microsoft as a financial entity and a business will be fine, they’re not going anywhere, but unless Windows is really fixed, the heart of their ecosystem will be broken.

You can’t blame Paul Thurrott for that, he’s just calling a spade a spade.

That’s my 10 cents, let me know what you think. Use the comments below.

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