Microsoft’s Susan Rice Problem: Who will defend Windows 8?

A few months ago, the Obama administration did something that quite frankly was pretty shameful.

They let word leak that they were considering Susan Rice for the Secretary of State position and then they let her dangle in the wind for weeks as opponents savaged her in the press.

Now this isn’t a political blog and Susan Rice is a real person but I can’t help but compare that example to what Microsoft has done with Windows 8.

They spent 3 years prepping this software and giving us glimpses into this code that was going to revolutionize the way we worked and played.

Ballmer told us it was the riskiest bet (he was right) and Steven Sinofsky did a great job at sharing in detail the thought that went into the development of Windows 8.

In fact, those updates were pretty revolutionary given the scope, scale and size of the software being discussed.

Then, Windows 8 was released to the world and the results were…. well very mixed.

I could quote blog after blog and UI expert after UI expert saying that the Metro UI is counter intuitive.

Head down to your local store and you can see consumers a little reluctant to dig in to this new Operating System because of the different look and feel of it all.

Research data firms like NPD have been quick to say that the PC industry isn’t doing great and Windows 8 has a lot to do with that.

OEM’s like Samsung, ASUS and Acer have been less than enthusiastic about this new Operating System.

Basically everyone (myself included) has had an opinion about Windows 8 but one thing remains baffling – Microsoft’s lack of a response.

I have had a chance to step back and think about this a lot and I have come to believe that radical and large software packages need advocates.

Not low level employees or marketing executives who are trying to do their jobs but big, loud characters.

Eric Schmidt is a large character who effectively defends Google.

Steve Jobs then and Tim Cook now are large Apple advocates.

Larry Ellison is the loudest and largest personality in Silicon Valley and  Oracle’s largest defender.

Jeff Bezos for Amazon, Marc Benioff for Salesforce and on and on…

I believe Steven Sinofsky was that person for Windows 8 but obviously, he’s not there anymore.

I believe that Windows 8 today has no champion or advocate at Microsoft.

There have been so many substantive and harmful barbs thrown at the software and there has been a muted response from Redmond.

Whether it’s a policy choice or just confusion over there, the result is the same – Windows 8 is slowly becoming tainted as a brand name and that my friends is unfortunate.

I have written about how I think some things need to be changed in the OS but I have also been vocal about how this is NOT Vista. I think it’s a vital step in the evolution of Windows and at some point, once perfected, will be accepted as the right direction for Microsoft.

It is however not my job to make that case. It should be Microsoft’s job.

They obviously disagree about bringing the Start Menu back but they don’t have a passionate reason why. We are left to guess that they just don’t want it there.

We are also left to wonder what they think about Pokki and Start8 etc, tons of Start Menu replacements that are popular.

They obviously disagree about booting directly in to the desktop but don’t offer any technical or political explanation why. Just silence.

There hasn’t been a substantial, vocal, consumer facing explanation of what exactly Windows RT is and what it aims to achieve. Just silence.

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  • Dan Williams

    Dude, well written!

    I couldn’t agree more!

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      Thanks for the feedback.

      🙂

  • sorry for the long rant

    If Microsoft is not responding, let’s hope they are at least listening. From the get-go, Microsoft should have given people no logical reason not to update their Win7 machines to a heavily discounted Win8 upgrade and get their app store humming. That is, build upon the familiarity of Win7, retain all of its features in this transition period, then do the underlying optimizations to make it fast and use less watts (for mobility). Then, on top of that, add the new Modern UI that people can have additional functionality/apps, if they so choose.

    But what did they do? They removed features like the Start menu, relegated standard Win7 features like Media Center (I use it as a no-fee DVR, works great!) to an expensive Pro upgrade, and refused a boot to desktop. Microsoft may not be responding right now because the fixes for Blue are still in flux, but who knows if any of these things will be addressed in the way that Win7 met every Vista criticism.

    Let’s hope with Blue, Microsoft can get the pieces right, and *then* they will have something to brag about. P.S. I know the start menu is not coming back, but they should have kept the desktop the same for Windows 8, and if you wanted to access the Modern Apps you would use the Start button on the Charms bar, insuring that touchscreen users would most likely find/use it. Or at least give us the option to choose.

    • darkprofit

      You have nailed it on the head, Microsoft with Ballmer at the wheel is not listening to it’s consumer base. It’s time Ballmer left, NOW!!!

    • WillyThePooh

      Media Center is not gone but will cost you extra only. But you could download media center for free before the end of this month. So be quick if you want it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/darrenkgeorge Darren Kavin George

    Question: Why do you think that this approach will solve their problems?

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      Read the article for the answer.

      🙂

  • http://www.facebook.com/alberto.gorin Alberto Gorin

    thats mi thought

    i hear sales person can t figer it out how it works
    steve see developing of start menu still refuse
    some told on a buisnes tech talk microsft sit in there own world
    maby compare to obama he sit in his own world.if am not correct
    than correct me.

    some have t got a cleu

    i agree with you

    Let’s hope with Blue, Microsoft can get the pieces right, and *then*
    they will have something to brag about. P.S. I know the start menu is
    not coming back, but they should have kept the desktop the same for
    Windows 8, and if you wanted to access the Modern Apps you would use the
    Start button on the Charms bar, insuring that touchscreen users would
    most likely find/use it. Or at least give us the option to choose.

    • BigJohnL

      HUH?

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      Thanks

    • WillyThePooh

      You have a girl friend you love. But one day, you decide to dump her and look for another one. Good! You found one. But then you want her to go through plastic surgery so that she looks exactly like your previous girl friend.
      Does it make sense? Not so. But that’s what a lot of people are asking for. At least that’s what my impression is, based on a lot of people’s comment.

  • Lewis Fulkerson

    Microsoft isn’t responding for a couple of reasons (in my opinion, of course). 1 – I believe they were taken back by the negative response they’ve received, but I also think they missed the opportunity to explain to people why they are setting up their new UI’s this way. If you’ve read the news, you can see that “Swipe” technology (touchy feely devices) came along at a bad time, but they can still serve a purpose. People need to get away from keyboards and mice to prepare to indulge themselves into the new method of computing that will hit sooner than we think. It’s the “gesture” technology that is fast approaching and is already consider pretty much affordable and reliable and is already available on some televisions. Although touch may seem cool, it’s actually counter intuitive to the human body, and will disappear quickly, to be replaced by the latest (and by far better) replacement technology of “gesture” computing, and computers that actually understand and can learn languages (already in manufacturing stage). I’m not keen on Windows 8, but I see the need and am adapting to the new format so I’m ready. I’ve worked on computers for 45 years (since 1968) so I know what happens to people when technology leaves them behind and they try to catch up… and it’s frightening, to say the least!

    • sorry for the long rant

      I think you’re right! The moment I saw Kinect I thought that we will be headed to gestures to control all screens where it is impractical to touch, like our big screen televisions. Then the Xbox dashboard update and Win 8 confirmed it. This explains the Metro apps endless horizontal scroll, the sparse nature of Metro apps (for better gesture targeting), and the swiping in from all four sides to reveal commands. Gestures, coupled with voice, and eyeball tracking is on its way. (Did you see the CES demo of the eyeball tracker for Windows 8… the tech blogger at one of the major sites was blown away and said it is faster than a mouse or touch because the would just think and look, and it was done, as if the machine was reading his mind.)

  • sh ab

    I think Microsoft is right, tell me when and where changes should take place?

    I love the new start menu of Lovely windows 8, I have it on my surface and my desktop,

    Pleas remember 95;98 to XP! Many people use xp and say they don’t like Windows 7! There are many reasons from their point of view but how much acceptable?

    I personally NEVER want to come back to previous versions and I made my digital world with windows 8, really amazing, new, modern, fast and secure, many many features have been added, a few ones removed like Media Center wich was great, I recommend windows 8 to all my friends and family and customers and I spend up to 3 minutes to tell changes to them, then they become lover, when they use skydrive, benefits of trusted pc on it, IE 10’s speed,…….

    I want to say many people need some learning, And I say as a Surface RT user after 2 month ( considering I had an android tablet before) it’s GREAT, I have no limitation wich are common on iPad or android device, nobody expect to run a full version of an x86 app on a TABLET, every body knows apps are in the market. Plus full network features and a great and well known and familiar File Explorer wich is perfect for a tablet and control panel, office, ……. so on. I defend windows 8.

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      Thanks for the feedback.

      🙂

  • http://twitter.com/ocaldwell Orletta E. Caldwell

    I can see the OEM getting upset, because I can’t tell you how many people are afraid to upgrade their PCs because it will come with “that Windows 8 mess”.

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      Thank you for the feedback.

      🙂

  • CheKeyC

    I agree make no sense! Would like to say I too like the win8 os, maybe a new learning curve, but the benifits,speed and hardware are great have run it now for 3 weeks on 5 computers one of which is an winRT having very minor problems combining all onto one master monitor, and able to interact through out the span of work groups.
    Hope MS gets its act together, sooner the better! Bud from Canada.

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      Thanks for the feedback.

      🙂

  • ac492

    A well written and well considered piece Onuora.

    Personally, I think the customer resistance to Win8 is pretty well down to the new UI. People are largely resistant to change unless it’s filtered in gradually, which this wasn’t, and from behind the keyboard – which most folk still use – using the touch interface is a bit of a pain!

    I use Win8, I suppose I like it, but what do I like? Realistically, only the faster start-up and shut-down times… Having set up an after-market start button, for my needs it now performs pretty much the same as Win7. So that’s ok, but not much to get excited about – a new OS that’s much the same as the last one.

    So are faster start-up and shut-down times worth paying for the upgrade? Probably not. And it wouldn’t matter a toss to me what big hitter was defending it – I probably wouldn’t have a clue who they were! I’m a customer, not an enthusiast.

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      Thanks! Great feedback.

    • WillyThePooh

      Not exciting just because you intentionally make it looks exactly like your previous OS. I guess that’s no one to blame except yourself.

      • ac492

        Not exciting because I don’t find that the tiles help me in any tangible way? My fault because I adapt my pc to a way that works best for me? Dont YOU try to make things easier and better for yourself and to suit your own preferences?

        It’s already evident that there are users who are delighted with the new UI. It’s also very evident that there are many others who are less than enthralled with it! If you have a touch device the tiles might be just exactly what you want – I don’t have a touch enabled device. Common sense might have shown that the start button should have been either left in place (it does no harm to anyone), or MS should have had a non-touch screen option which works better than this UI does.

        Excited – about a pc…? I use one because it makes my life easier. I have far more interesting things in my life to get ‘excited’ about!

  • Dan The Man MacBrand

    How many feel the same about how its been somewhat difficult to learn different ways of doing something in all other Windows os just to find out that it no longer works the same.Now u must learn how to creat shortcuts in this os…U must …their way….Just think how we all learned and have adjusted…..But how about those not so tech savvy?How about just pricing a decent touch screen for desktop……about the same as win rt!!!!!!!How are u gonna convince us as tech savvy when all Win 8 transition has complicated every aspect on intuitive maneuvers?

    • Dan The Man MacBrand

      Remember that we are the consumers that affect ur future.We the People that makes Microsoft all they are by our support…..this one way?Pride always comes before a fall,

  • JohnnyG321

    I’m not certain I disagree with you. It certainly is frustrating seeing all these negative reviews bandied about in the media – many of which are inaccurate. But I do find myself wondering what exactly you would have this champion say.

    Would it be: “Hey, we know that some of you want the Start button back, but get over it.”? (Seems to me that Stephen Sinofsky posted on this one ad-nauseum. Something about metrics and click ratios and some other esoteric design rules. I think Julie Larsen-Green has weighed in on this too.)

    Would it be “Yeah, we know that some of you don’t like the interface formerly known as Metro [insert obscure symbol here] but touch is the future and the icons/tiles/whatever have to be big enough to – you know – touch.” (Same.)

    I’ve heard all kinds of comments about Windows 8 from all kinds of people. Some reputable, some not – even some that have famously screwed up their predictions of what will and will not catch on. But all of the negative comments seem to boil down to essentially two:

    a) We don’t like it.
    b) It’s confusing.

    As for the first, well there’s plenty of people who DO like it. It’s entirely subjective. It can be for any number of reasons, but the most common are: “It’s different” and “It’s not Apple.” – oh and let’s not forget “It’s not Android.”

    The second one is not *quite* as subjective. It usually is either because you have both desktop mode and the new UI on the same machine (although, that is kind of important if you want a machine that can do both) OR it’s because people don’t know where to find the same old things on the new OS. Well, that’s not unique to Windows 8. You should have seen me the first time I sat down in front of OS X. It wasn’t pretty.

    At the end of the day, I’m not sure exactly what this ‘champion’ would or could do. Can someone really rebut every negative review out there? What Microsoft really wanted (and needed) was for the OS to be accepted on its own merit. But there’s a whole swath of so-called industry ‘experts’ who really appear to have decided to hate it since before it was even available – like they’re programmed to hate anything from Microsoft – just because. Even those that try to be objective frequently aren’t. When a consumer sees all the negativity out there, they’re going to be justifiably nervous.

    Can a ‘champion’ change that? Can you have someone say “It’s really great. No, really!” over and over again without it seeming practiced and self-serving? Are you certain Microsoft isn’t doing the smarter thing by remaining quiet on this issue and just focusing on improving the end product? I’m not sure I know the answer, but I think it’s worth considering very carefully.

  • http://profiles.google.com/tennelec Tim Lund

    I for one have very few issues with Windows 8. I look at the Start Screen as vastly more versatile and powerful than the old Start Menu. I do agree that Microsoft has been their own worst enemy in being silent about the various issues users have. What happened to the BILLION + dollars they reportedly spent to launch Windows 8? A little more effort to introduce some basic concepts would go a long way.

    All of our family computers run it. My 9 year old grand daughter uses it and has no problems navigating using a scrolling mouse and keyboard. Anyone can use Windows 8 if given the proper info when they first start to use it. Microsoft appears to be dropping the ball on Windows 8 big time.

  • Rex

    Unfortunately, MS comes from a different era, the era of Big Business is faceless. If they are to change this they need to hire the right person for the job.

    That being said, I am not sure an apology or an explanation is in order. What are they supposed to say? “Sorry, we hoped more people would be on board with this radical change, but unfortunately we have to wait until people use it enough to change their minds.”? Even someone as charismatic as Steve Jobs would not have dented this backlash.

    Remember, Steve started from a position where everything he said was taken as gospel. If he said, no one will want to watch video on a hand held screen, everyone would believe him until he brought out just the perfect way to watch it on one. Maybe if they had someone to say before this all went down, that they were going to radically change the way computers are used and how we interact with them, they may have had a little better luck, but in hind sight, isnt that about what they said?

    This is MS we are talking about, not Apple. There is not the level of fanatical support to lap up whatever they say and do. In fact, there is a large group out there just drooling for MS to slip up and jump on every chance they get to denounce MS for any little infraction. Trust me, I come across them daily. For the longest time, it has been cool to rag on MS even by much of the press. MS knows this. Yet they have such a market share, they know that people will be forced to eventually go through with the changes just as they did back in 1995. Eventually people will get used to the change and the advantages will start to make more sense to everyone. Sure there will be those out there that will forever hate it and move to other alternatives, but they will be the minority.

    The problem MS has to face, and it is not this time, but in the future, they will eventually loose this grip and then they need to have a different way to handle change. But this time, giving in would send the absolute worst message.

  • Jack Reed

    I think that this is making a pretty large statement about the current state of Microsoft, which is almost, if not completely true. I agree about the lack of perfection in the program, and I hope that it does turn out to be a Vista-like error, and that it will be fixed quickly and effectively in Windows 9.

  • Daniel Gray

    Sorry, But Obama didnt do anything to Susan Rice, SHE is the one that went on the talking head shows on sunday and lied her ass off and changed her story each time she was on a different show. I mean the Intelligence briefing three days BEFORE she went on the sunday shows, told her that this was not because of some stupid film, it was a terrorist attack! And yet she lied and lied again. I have no use at all for Obama, but in this case Rice is the one that screwed herself and Obama could not save her.

    Now while I agree that MS Should have someone promoting their products, I have yet to see ANYONE from the list you mentioned on my Television or the blogs I go to or news sources or radio…promoting Apple/Google/Oracle/Amazon/Salesforce/Unix/Linux/etc. I have reread my Popular Computing as well as Maximum PC and a host of other PC related Magazines and I have not seen anything from the above people. Even when Maximum PC ripped Apple a new one, the silence from them was deafening. And Maximum PC is one of the most respected magazines out there as they take no crap from anyone, if they think it is junk, they are going to tell you so and the maker be damned. But since the others are not actively promoting their brands as they should, whats the big fuss about MS not doing the same? Or is it yet another case of MS bashing going on here? Oh and BTW, My cable provider is Time Warner, one of the largest cable companies in the US, and believe me I have seen more commercials for Windows 8 in one day then I have seen these people for the other brands in 3 months!

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      I won’t re-litigate the Susan Rice debacle here.

      People on my list didn’t need to do PR for their products because it never got this bad.

      As for Apple defending their brand for Maximum PC, really? The most valuable and richest company in the world?

      Hard to make the case that Maximum PC in their wildest dreams could negatively affect Apple sales.

      Apple is a leader in the space and so far the public agrees. A better example was when their maps were all screwed up. Their CEO APOLOGIZED because it was obvious that the outcry was deafening.

      Hope that helped.

  • Lonesomelurker

    Microsoft did everything wrong with Windows 8…now they stuck there heads in the sand hoping it will all go away. Better luck with Windows 9