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Microsoft Windows – The Good, The Bad, & The Very Ugly

feature -microsoft-logoIt amuses me no end whenever I come across rants aimed at the evil Microsoft. I doubt there is another organization that has been as much maligned or the subject of as many conspiracy theories as Microsoft. Money hungry, uncaring and dictatorial are just some of the common barbs thrown Microsoft’s way. I tend to take it all with a grain of salt, there are glass-half-empty people and then there are glass-half-full people.

While I firmly believe the pluses outweigh the minuses overall, there is no doubt that Microsoft has dropped plenty of clangers along the way, who remembers “Clippy”, the much maligned Office assistant?  First introduced in Office 98, Clippy must be one of the most reviled innovations of all time. The mere mention of the name elicited levels of hatred generally reserved for jilted lovers and mortal enemies. There were “I hate Clippy” Web sites, videos, and T-shirts in numerous languages. One of the first viral videos on the Internet, well before YouTube made posting videos commonplace, depicted a person mangling a live version of Clippy, screaming, “I hate you, you lousy paper clip!”

clippy with text

Then there was that annoying little dog associated with XP’s snail-like search feature. I lost count of the number of hours I sat there watching that little dog’s tail wag while waiting what seemed an eternity for the search to complete. I guess Microsoft figured anything so painfully slow required some kind of distraction. Good choice Microsoft – entertainment value zero, irritation level off the scale.

xp search2

WindowsVistaThen along came Vista, the operating system everyone loved to hate. I don’t actually see Vista as the disaster depicted by so many, more as a progression – the path to the excellent Windows 7. One of the main criticisms leveled at Vista was its additional demands on resources and the need to update hardware in order to accommodate it. To a certain extent Vista was the victim of unfortunate timing, pretty much coinciding with the birth of a period of massive advancements in hardware technology – dual/quad core CPUs, mega RAM, and large capacity hard drives all eventually becoming the norm. I wonder; if Vista were to be released today, would those same issues still be relevant.

So, on to Windows 8 and it’s here that I concede Microsoft has lived up to at least two of the most common criticisms. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about the operating system itself, I really like Windows 8. The missing Start Menu, the new Start Screen, live Tiles, all those elements people have complained about, as far as I am concerned it is all inconsequential, at the core Windows 8 is a darn good operating system.

Where Microsoft’s attitude has sucked is in the area of updates and distribution. In my opinion, this aspect has indeed been handled in an uncaring and dictatorial manner. How many Windows 8 users experienced issues trying to upgrade to Windows 8.1? Too many! Through no fault of their own. Indeed, there are reports from a significant number of users who still have not managed to complete the upgrade. The only solutions I’ve come across have been provided by tech sites, not Microsoft. I appreciate that the multitude of differing hardware and software configurations make diagnosis difficult but when issues windows-8-logoarise on such a scale, surely Microsoft should set up a specific support forum with trained staff at the ready. It’s called customer service, or PR, or just doing the right thing! Strike 1.

The upgrade to Windows 8.1 was delivered via download from the Store, no ISO has ever been made available. Among other issues, this decision forced users running multiple Windows 8 installations to download the 3+GB upgrade multiple times. Every Windows operating system should be available via downloadable ISO, this was an unfathomable and awful decision from Microsoft. Strike 2.

Now, with Windows 8.1 Update 1, Microsoft has adopted the position of standover merchant. For those unfamiliar with the term – a standover merchant is someone who bullies or intimidates. Microsoft’s decision to stop providing updates for Windows 8.1 users who do not install Update 1 is tantamount to blackmail. It does make sense too install Update 1 but that is not the point, this  ‘or else’ attitude is the epitome of dictatorial. Strike 3, you’re out!

I am by no means a Microsoft basher, I fully appreciate what the company has done for personal computing and its massive contribution toward today’s technology. However, these recent decisions regarding Windows 8/8.1 go beyond the pale. Microsoft has made a fortune off the backs of millions of Windows users, more than enough to afford the kind of customer service and support we all deserve. This is one area where Microsoft definitely needs to lift its game.


18 thoughts on “Microsoft Windows – The Good, The Bad, & The Very Ugly”

  1. OK, bitch a little.
    Problem is that Microsoft has a choke-hold on all too many global users. There’s no doubt that Microsoft still has an arrogant approach to their customers. They’re like the GM of OS, whereby recalls are cloaked as dot issues sometimes at the expense of the customer.
    I have a Win 8.1 Issue 1 HP Notebook and a DELL Win 7 Notebook. Both work very well. I have XP users (my customers) either go to Win 7 or add a Linux (MINT, UBUNTU or Zorin) duel boot so that they don’t lose their years of XP Apps.
    My Smartphone is a Sony Xperia ZL Android and my Tablet is a Nexus 7 Android all of which work very well.
    But as for Windows 8.1 Issue1 deadline (recent 30 day notice) I hear ya on that issue and an upcoming Issue 2 is getting my customers quite irritated when I even bring up the subject with them. They’re the one’s I’m hearing the real complaints about Microsoft. They keep asking me why I have been updating them so often over the last year with issues of Win 8, Win 8.1, Win XP, Win 8.1 Issue 1 and rumor mill of Win 8.1 Issue 2, Win 9. My customers are really voicing their nasty opinions about Microsoft and to be quite honest, I don’t blame them.

  2. Excellent article Jim.
    I still maintain that Microsoft needs to clear the confusion about the 8.1 to 8.xxx update and make its position absolutely crystal clear.
    Ok, they’ve already said that 8.1 users who don’t update will not be eligible for future updates, but they don’t say why and that’s what I mean.
    Furthermore, why not simplify the process and just call it 8.2? Update to 8.xxx or whatever isn’t exactly in keeping with update nomenclature is it?
    Rant over…

  3. What else will Microsoft dictate to users? I still use an XP machine dual booted with Linux in my shop. I can do everything on that machine, that I am doing with this windows 8 machine. I guess old school computers users will have to die out and let the new generation take over. Daniel.

  4. Good article Jim . . . but don’t you think that as MS have such a great monopoly, they could afford to treat there Customers with a little more consideration and respect.
    They charge a premium price for their products, but don’t appear to give a fig about the public who pay these prices.
    I’m not talking about the withdrawal of XP, but removing Win 7 (a logical step up from XP) shows a blatant “tough luck Jack” attitude. A reasonably cheap upgrade from XP to Win 7, bundled with an easy to use “transfer your programs and data” utility would have gendered a lot of brand loyalty.
    I speak as Win 8 user, who has managed to tame it to be as usable as Win 7. Thus I am hesitant about upgrading to 8.1.
    Anyway keep up the good work – who knows someone from MS might read your article(s) and the subsequent comments and take heed. You’ll know when this happens when their are squadrons of porkers in the sky.

    1. don’t you think that as MS have such a great monopoly, they could afford to treat there Customers with a little more consideration and respect

      I certainly do JST, that’s why I included the following in the article: “Microsoft has made a fortune off the backs of millions of Windows users, more than enough to afford the kind of customer service and support we all deserve

  5. Hi Jim. Let’s see XP Pro ($200.00), Vista Ultimate ($200.00), 7 Home Premium ($100.00), 8 Pro ($40.00), 8 Pro Upgrade ($85.00). Times that I have used M/S support (0). If I had been smart I should have moved to Linux 10Yrs ago. Daniel.

  6. Added to my original post, and after reading other posts, there are more ways to jump to Windows 7 from XP at no cost but obviously I can’t say how, especially here.
    As for jayesstee hesitant about upgrading to 8.1? Win 8.1 is essential for anyone who comes from XP and Win 7. Microsoft Win 8 was the horrible culprit (as usual) giving everyone the “Oh no, not that Vista feeling again”.
    When I upgraded my Windows 7 to Windows 8 after a few weeks I did a complete restore back to Windows 7. Then when Windows 8.1 came out I then upgraded to my Windows 8 (Licensed DVD) again (oh the pain) and then did the Windows 8.1 free upgrade and I was much happier. I like Windows 8.1 (Issue 1 now, more pain) enough that I have it running like Windows 7 again much better than the horrible Windows 8.
    All this being said. What’s my take for XP Computer owners? Save your money and do a duel boot of Linux (free OS MINT, UBUNTU or Zorin) and keep your original years of XP applications on your old computer. Sure your old XP computer can (possibly) run on Windows 7 (and probably not Windows 8) but some of your XP Apps might not work on Win 7, in fact I can pretty much guarantee that a lot of your old XP Apps won’t work on Win 7 & Win 8 .
    AMEN, sorry for my rant everyone.
    Jim, I think your topic is worth the discussion.
    Thanks Jim.

    1. Thanks for your post about your Win 8.1 experienc,
      Thanks to “Classic Start Menu” and a few other tweaks, I have Win 8 tamed.  I avoid the “Start Screen” like the plague!
      However, when I get time, I will take a disc image of my setup and then try 8.1. I trust I will still be able to use “Classic Start Menu” ?
      Anyway if I do it reasonably soon I will report back.

    2. Hi GP,

      I’ve now got 8.1!  I didn’t mean to, but it snuck up on me.

      In the UK we have laws about commercial mis-description.  Microsoft promises: “You can carry on working while 8.1 installs”.  I could – for about half an hour, then it nagged that it need several reboots.  OK, I can work around that I thought and pressed “OK”.  

      What an example of mis-information!  It took an hour or more of installing this, that and everything else, probably including the “kitchen sink”. Every time it seemed to stall at around 3%.  Twice I was convinced that it was stuck and nearly switched off.  The first couple of times it reached 100%, I thought good, I “can carry on working while 8.1 installs”  Oh no, up came the Lenovo splash screen and then the inevitable “3% complete”.  I lost count of the number of times I saw that splash screen.

      Eventually it installed and wanted my password.  OK.  Then it invited me to enter an email address.  Of course I used my otherwise un-used, un-loved Outlook acount, forgetting it was in “two step verification mode”.  How do you read an email with a code when your OS won’t let you through (thro)?  

      Oh yes, what about the EULA?  Why should such a perfectly wonderful organisation like Microsoft worry so much about “Class Actions”?  I agreed because by now I was getting late and, anyway, the clause about no class actions doesn’t doesn’t apply in the UK, yet!  However that EULA is nudging me towards Linux!

      Anyway, I eventually suceeded and I’m suprised to say it ain’t bad.  Downside is that I had re-do some of my tweaks, I had to reset my “Classic Start” icon.  Generally, I can still ignore the start screen and use it like Win 7.

  7. Jim, after reading GP’s post, I have a ?. Just how secure is a machine that is running in a dual boot with XP, whether it be Linux or another windows version.

    1. I hate to say ‘it depends’, but in this case it really does. It depends largely on the proficiency level of the individual. For your average Mums and Dads who are not particularly computer or security savvy, I would say don’t do it. Better to replace XP completely with something else. For experienced users who are security savvy, it would not be so much of an issue. Although, I would still advise against connecting XP to the net.

  8. Jon Digby-Lord on Facebook

    GP, why is it ‘essential’ to move to Windows 8.1 from Windows 7, then make 8.1 look like 7 when 7 does everything that Mr & Mrs Average require.
    XP should have been an easy slide into 7, upgraded to look and feel similar, then into 8 without a need for 8.1.
    Now we are reading leaks of Windows 9 coming soon, could it because Bill has returned to the fold.

  9. I actually liked Clippy and the search dog wagging its tail. I missed them badly when I moved from XP to Win7.

    Haven’t moved in to the Windows 8 era yet, so can’t comment on the rest of your article.

  10. I liked Clippy, the dog and their various optional forms, such as the cat, Einstein and the like.
    I am slowly getting used to Win 8.1 but after working with Win 7 for so many years it does require me to pull myself into line with its requirements.
    I haven’t used the Win 8.1 computer that much, about once a week, but last week it came up with error displays, the solution to which will be my focus the next time I use it.
    I do like Win 7.
    All the best.

  11. Jon,
    You have misunderstood my post. OMG no it’s not essential to move to Windows 8.1 from Windows 7. Geez, if you have Windows 7 then stay with it bud. I meant if you have Windows 8 that Windows 8.1 gives you that Win 7 feeling. I have a Windows 7 Dell that is not going to be a Windows 8 machine. I’d go to Linux before that happened.

  12. I have now set up Linux dual boot systems on 16 systems for family members and friends, most with XP but including Vista, Win 7 and one with Win 8.1
    All users have learned to switch to Win OS when necessary but are all pleased with using Linux and the free alternatives to other MS products.
    If more people start using Linux, more Linux applications will become available.

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