Microsoft is facing several problems in its push to get users to adopt its new Windows 8 operating system.
To be sure, the company wishes that everyone would just go out and buy its new OS (actually: two or more copies, please!) and use it, without criticism or complaint. But–SURPRISE!–it’s looking like that’s not going to happen.
First: some users refuse to give up on previous versions, most notably XP. I’m not going to call this the first sign of unhappiness with Win8, as these same individuals also have passed on Windows 7. They just like what they already have, apparently.
Second: as reported recently, the first sign that users aren’t overly pleased with Windows 8–instructions on how to downgrade to Windows 7 are making the rounds. (To fans of the new OS who would criticize this as undermining Win8–It’s simple business. There must be enough feedback to the media from users about its unpopularity to make it worthwhile and a good idea to assign individuals to write articles about downgrading.)
Third: The next step in the dissatisfaction process is a wish list of features that are missing or are improperly administered in Windows 8.
Generally speaking, when you create a product, you’d like it to stick around a while–at least, for what would be considered its normal life cycle. It’s not good news when the discussion is already turning to the next version (see Osborn computers).
Apple users do this all the time. There’s always a list of features they’re looking for in the newest release of their favorite devices–Mac or iOS–and most of the time, there’s always a few left off. So, the list just keeps on going, even after the new release.
The difference is: the missing Apple items aren’t necessarily vital to the device’s operation, mostly they’re just niceties that its users would like to have.
PCWorld.com’s Woody Leonhard has complied a list of what he believes are serious omissions from the current Windows 8 that should be integrated into Windows 9, with his “10 must-have features foe Windows 9”:
I’ve been using Windows 8 for almost a year now, and I constantly bump up against gaping holes in its design. From the beginning, Microsoft has offered users an awkward experience, one that, even when fully baked, has not impressed, leaving desktop diehards in the lurch as to how to make the most of Windows 8.
It’s almost as if Microsoft is banking on Windows 8 being a fertile feedback loop for Windows 9 — where to steer its direction and how to make up for what two-faced Win8 lacks.
No, I’m not whining about the Start menu. Again.
So with the Windows dev team hunkered down in the Win9 spec (or “Windows Blue”?) process — when they aren’t gossiping about Sinofsky, anyway — it’s due time we diehards speak out. Here are my 10 most important Windows 9 features, from the point of view of a dyed-in-the-wool desktop user.
Windows 9 must-have feature No. 10: “Get out of hell” modal dialog
Yes, I know the Metro Start screen is part of the package now, and I’ll have to negotiate its tiled hoops from time to time. What I really want is some way to scan my system to see under what circumstances it’ll jump from the desktop over to the Metro Start screen.
Some of the hell-jump triggers are obvious: Double-clicking on an MP3 file hops to Metro Music, for example, where you’re engulfed by advertising for Microsoft’s music store. I know I can cure that boorish behavior by installing a desktop music player.
But other jarring transitions aren’t so obvious, their cures not so clear. Please, Microsoft, come up with a way to warn me in advance before I’m tossed to the Metro mutts.
Windows 9 must-have feature No. 9: Metro mute button
If Metro IE lands on a noisy page or I find myself inadvertently playing a Metro Video that’s set to earsplitting levels, it takes a zillion clicks (or swipes and stabs and slides) to turn down the bloody volume.
I know my PC is supposed to have a volume control button. But it doesn’t. I have to hover my mouse in the upper-right corner of the screen (or remember Windows-C) and wait for Windows to bring up the Charms bar. Then I have to click on the Settings icon, run my mouse down to the volume control, click on the volume icon, move to preciselythe right place, and slide the volume bar down. It’s hard to do that when the Web page is showing the start line at a Formula 1 race, at full throttle.
No doubt it’s too much to ask for predefined volume keys for the standard keyboard, but just a mute button would come in very handy. Windows-S for “shut up”?
Windows 9 must-have feature No. 8: A Control Panel that controls
Would somebody please tell me why I can’t add a new Windows user by going through the Control Panel? Why do I have to jump to the Metro Control, er, Change PC Settings program and find the Users section to add a new name?
Wait, that’s only the half of it. If I want to add a new admin account to my Windows 8 PC, I have to add a regular account over in Metro, then switch back to the desktop, crank up the Control Panel, go into Users, and change the account over to an admin account? That’s plain ridiculous.
Windows 9 deserves a Control Panel that controls everything. If Microsoft wants to split off idiot-proof, er, user-friendly subsets of the Control Panel and stick them in the Metro interface, that’s cool. But don’t castrate the Control Panel to do it.
Again, let me point out that Windows 8 isn’t a complete disaster. People are using it, and while it’s not a runaway success, it’s doing okay.
But remember that Microsoft is all-in with Windows 8. CEO Steve Ballmer said that himself. So, anything less than complete success (or, at least, a considerably higher adoption rate leading to much more success than it’s experiencing right now) has to be looked upon as a failure by the company.