Microsoft, we need to talk. You’ve been doing things lately with your desktop software that make me wonder if you really listen to your customers.
I keep seeing you code and deploy things that don’t make sense. First, let’s agree that users run Windows because they need a key application or feature. (Otherwise, they might have already migrated to another platform.) This recent Tweeter resonated with me: “The value Windows has for consumers and businesses today is no feast for the eyes. It’s running over 30 years of apps, many of which should have been retired long ago. If you started again, you’d have to give that up – and the platform would be worthless for the most part.
Eye candy doesn’t really help; in fact, it can hamper a Windows customer’s satisfaction. But I see a lot of eye candy lately.
For example, recently in Windows 10 and 11, you rolled out a new feature called Search Highlights. It is touted as an improvement to the search experience in Windows by bringing important and meaningful events, files, and resources to users. Search Highlights works slightly differently for regular users and businesses. For the former, it will display meaningful information such as holidays, birthdays, and other educational moments based on the region of the user. Enterprise users, on the other hand, will see relevant files, contacts, and other organizational information.
It’s important for you to realize that this idea of ”regular users versus enterprise users” doesn’t make much sense anymore in this work-from-home world we live in now. Offer a user different views and actions depending on the Windows machine they are using. reuse is confusing. Stop thinking that a “normal” user should be treated differently from a “corporate” user. We both want an operating system to work perfectly. Just make sure my PC starts when I want it to and is functional. When you dribble around features this way, you end up leaving people thinking they’ve been infected with a virus and wondering what to do. Those of us who manage a Windows machine are constantly asked questions about these “enhancements”. (For the record, if you want to get rid of Search Highlights, instructions are here.)
What I mean is that often these upgrades are not what people want. They don’t want “highlights” from search, they want search to just work.
The current Windows 11 experience is another work in progress with mixed results. As noted Raphael Rivera, Windows 11 25120 is testing a new desktop search box on the desktop, where results are always displayed in Microsoft Edge, ignoring the configured default browser. (For Windows 11 Insiders, if you want to see this functionality, you’ll need to download a tool that lets you enable optional testing. As Rivera notes, you download the ViVe tool, open an elevated command prompt, and navigate to to the folder where the extracted ViveTool is Enter the following command in the command prompt: vivetool addconfig 37969115 2 and this will activate the search box.)
Yes, Microsoft, you told us that these “trial code bubbles” might not end up in final versions of released features. But it’s interesting to see how you spend your time.
Maybe you should check out some comments about what users really want: a better weather widget, for example. Seriously. Go to the Feedback app in Windows 10 and you’ll see a bug that’s been upvoted over 1,400 times. The problem here is that the time section of the Weather app no longer displays times, at least for some users.
Now I can see the times displayed in my Weather app, but clearly others see a problem. Therein lies the problem with the “dribble changes” you make. Something will suddenly change and it’s not clear if the issue is a bug, a temporary glitch, or something intentional. Often when a change is announced, it can take weeks before someone actually sees it appear on their computer. And by then, many users will probably have forgotten about it. Or they think their computer has been hacked or has a virus. When Search Highlights arrived, some users thought something was wrong with their computer. And with the weather widget, is it a bug or a feature? We do not know.
Even for business users and IT help desk administrators, this model is confusing. When someone calls the help desk with a problem, the admin might not know it because the change didn’t happen on their workstation. They must therefore go to the workstation remotely to understand what is happening. It’s far from ideal.
And now you’re taking the “dribble” approach to Office, pushing everyone who chose the Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel to the Monthly Channel, which means changes and tweaks will appear more often. (It happens a lot in my office; one day I see a certain behavior in Office, then the next day it changes. Then I have to dig into the version number of Office to figure out what happened and why. )
Microsoft, you may need to dribble changes this way so you can gauge usage and resources. But for those of us who use computers, it’s often shocking and confusing and forces us to investigate why something is suddenly different. You could solve this problem by being more clear when making changes to our systems.
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