Dear Microsoft …

13 Aug

I think this rather droll post sums up my current feelings. Not being a computer expert, I don’t really have the time to mess around.

Dear Microsoft

I think we’re breaking up. And it isn’t me, it’s you.

We started, when I got my first computer, with Windows 98 and Microsoft Office 2000. I got on well with you; I could do my university work, play my games and generally a good time was had by all. I was particularly fond of Outlook Express, which handed all my email requirements perfectly, and Microsoft Front Page, which I used for my websites. Life was good.

My first computer, eventually, passed away and I bought a new laptop. This one came with Windows Vista. It wasn’t too bad – I was a writer by that time and I was able to put Word 2000 on the new computer – but I couldn’t play my old games on it. I am no computer expert and every time I tried to get my games to work I failed. But I had little time for gaming then, so I more or less gave up. I only bought a handful of games since then.

And then I think we had our first real hiccup. The computer I bought after that had Windows 7 and … well, my copy of Office would no longer function. I found that rather annoying; I was used to MS Office 2000 by that time and I hated the thought of changing. I admit I messed around with Open Office before reluctantly purchasing a copy of Office 2007 to go with the new computer. But while it worked better than Open Office, I found more than a little frustrating. The basic settlings I had come to love in Office 2000 were complicated in 2007. Every little change required a considerable amount of work to input. I still loathe the simple fact that my preferred style needs to be selected again with every new document. AND you didn’t even let me have a CD copy so I could reinstall it if necessary.

And then … Windows 8. Oh, boy; did I loathe Windows 8.

Look, Microsoft, I understand precisely why you wanted to come up with a system that could work on either a tablet or a desktop PC. I just don’t think you could actually do it. Windows 8 certainly wasn’t a viable system for my desktop. The user interface was appallingly bad. I battered away at it for days, and eventually included Classic Shell, before I had a system I could use. But in sheer awkwardness it outdid Office 2007. (To add insult to injury, copying my spelling files from Windows 7 to 8 was very tricky.)

I’ll focus on one major problem; Windows Live Mail. I’m sure synchronising everything sounded good to your focus groups. However, the system is best described as flawed. There isn’t a proper window, the junk email won’t show me anything more than plain text and the junk mail filters are rubbish. Not to put too fine a point on it, I can’t move something from the folder without having all future mail from that sender sent to my inbox; however, when I put a piece of junk in the folder, the sender isn’t added to the list of spammers/junk mailers. It says a lot about how crappy the system is, Microsoft, that I prefer using the online web interface. Why did you try to ‘improve’ on Outlook Express?

There are really too many other problems with the so-called operating system to list. One that’s worth mentioning is the original attempt to get me to use my Windows Live ID – rather than a user account specific to one computer. I don’t care to use the same ID everywhere, Microsoft, and when my internet access is limited it takes forever to get into the computer!

But I finally battered Windows 8 into submission, just in time for you to come out with Windows 10.

I wouldn’t have cared about this, probably, until a new icon popped up in my tray. It offered a free upgrade to Windows 10 … and it was extremely difficult to remove. (And the first time I removed it, it popped back within a day.) Do you have any excuse at all for uploading a piece of malware to my system? Maybe it isn’t dangerous, but it’s there and I found it hard to get rid of it; that’s pretty much the classic definition of a PUP. I do not want Windows 10, Microsoft, and you killed pretty much the last remnants of my loyalty when you totally ignored my wishes. Putting a piece of malware on thousands upon thousands of computers was a dick move.

This would be bad enough, but – as I’m sure you’ve heard – there have been plenty of concerns voiced over the last few days about just how intrusive Windows 10 is – and how little privacy users can expect. I can understand why you want to gather data, but it’s basic courtesy to ask if users want to opt-in, rather than taking their consent for granted. And very few people are OK with you claiming blanket permission to share their data with third-parties, whoever those third-parties might be. AND while the idea of WIFI-SENSE for Windows 10 may seem like a good idea, it doesn’t take much imagination to realise just how many legal problems might result for thousands of hapless customers who haven’t realised that the setting is ‘on’ by default. If I wanted my best friends to have access to my WIFI, I would have given them the password.

I can understand, I suppose, why you want to gather advertising data. There are times – most notably on Amazon – when I’ve even regretted the inability to provide better data (they do keep offering me books I already have). But, again, you should have asked before collecting the data – and assumed a default answer of no. Because very few people are comfortable with you taking information without permission, let alone sharing it with vaguely-defined third parties.

I do not want Windows 10. Very little I’ve heard about it has actually been good. Even if it were, I would shift over when I wanted – or needed – to shift over, not when you insisted I should. I see no value in rewarding you for bad behaviour. I am no longer a loyal customer.

So … next time, I think I’ll be going for Linux.

This is inconvenient for me. Even if I manage to run Word on a Linux machine, I will still have to get used to a whole new system. But, frankly, I’m fed up with dealing with successive generations of Windows – and you trying to force an unwanted upgrade onto my machine.

It hasn’t been fun – or easy.

And that’s the problem. Yes, I know; there are people who enjoy setting up the system, or taking the programs apart to see how they work. I’m not one of them. All I want is a functional system that does what I need it to do and … well, I had that with Windows 98. Could you explain to me, perhaps, why 15 years of development only lead to less capable operating systems?

Do you want a word of advice? Stop taking your customers for granted. You’ve already lost this one.

Bye.

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20 Responses to “Dear Microsoft …”

  1. gregory August 13, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

    Funny – this is the first negative comment I’ve heard of windows 10. I’ve not updated yet and been waiting for the feedback. Its been good up until now.

    • Per G Jönsson August 14, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

      @gregory

      I must confess that I disagree with quite a few things that Chris says in this particular post but as far as Windows 10 is concerned it is an unfinished, buggy mess in my view. Especially on a tablet device. I have it installed on one desktop and three tablets and I am quite disappointed.

      I am a computer engineer and a long time Windows user (fan) but this release got me rather upset. I wrote a few rants on my site to try and explain why.

      I do agree though that most people seems to be favorable to Windows 10 and I simply fail to understand why.

  2. Muratcan SImsek August 13, 2015 at 11:03 pm #

    You can only reliably use LibreOffice in Linux; it is nice, but not up to the Microsoft Office standards.

    As for Linux, if you want to install something and not deal with upgrades again, you don’t have that many choices. Most of the Linux distributions have new releases every 6 month. Even long term releases are for 2-3 years. What you need is rolling release systems which always stays up to date. but they usually need expert Linux knowledge. But there are a few exception.

    Linux Mint Debian Edition, this is what you need. Designed for just using, needs no Linux voodoo, rolling release. Here is a review: http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20150420#mint

    You are one of my favorite self-published writers, I hope you find the best working environment you can. That said, if your are after productivity, you should really look into Macbooks and Scrivener.

  3. Jack Boone August 14, 2015 at 12:21 am #

    👍🏻

    Jack Boone

    >

  4. lamparty August 14, 2015 at 12:39 am #

    I came to that conclusion 8 years ago! Though it was a lot easier for me to make the change, since I am not a writer and don’t depend on Microsoft Office! Open Office and now Libreoffice do the simple things I need done. Windows updates broke my machine twice in three months back then. I went to a dual-boot Ubuntu and Windows system for a couple of years till I realized the only time I was running Windows was once a month to do the updates! Since then I has been Straight Ubuntu for me!

  5. Larry Thomson August 14, 2015 at 4:39 am #

    “You are one of my favorite self-published writers, I hope you find the best working environment you can. That said, if your are after productivity, you should really look into Macbooks and Scrivener.”

    Muratcan above hit the nail on the head.

    I switched from Windows to Mac OSX 3 years ago. Never looked back. At the time, I was working as a training specialist (content developer) for a large corporation. They were exclusively Windows based, but that was not an issue, as I could run Windows either in a VM or in Bootcamp, if required.

    BTW, Scrivener is an excellent development tool. While it may take some getting used to, you might wish to give it a go.

    • Pat M August 14, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

      I’m also a fan of Scrivener, it took a little getting used to but there was very little of my time spent ‘fixing’ the environment – all the non-value added time spent in windows & word just getting the program to open and work just went away. If your goal is to get right into writing, this is the way to go…

  6. Ronald Crabtree August 14, 2015 at 9:25 am #

    use a virtual pc program to run windows 98 and word?

  7. Anarchymedes August 15, 2015 at 11:19 am #

    First, let me introduce myself: I’ve been a software developer with a master degree since 1990, and this is what I do for a living now. I’ve used, and developed for nearly all Microsoft systems, starting from MS DOS to Windows 10 now. Needless to say, my own relationship with Microsoft had its ups and downs, and there have been a few years during which I used Linux at home. The only way I could get it to do what I wanted was because I am a professional. Unless you know how to log in as a root (use sudo), locate arcane configuration files in some top-secret folders, and modify them (with Google search being your only guide), or even download a source code of a driver for your sound card, for example, change a couple of lines in C++, and the recompile it, you’re not likely to get anything working. Even the elementary things like a Web cam aren’t guaranteed to work out-of-the-box. By the way, in order to run Microsoft Office (or most Pc games) on Linux, one must use Wine. Homework: find out what it is. 🙂
    On the positive side, if you do master the art of linuxing, it is a fast and stable platform. Blender 3D, one of my favourite toys, runs faster on it than on Windows (if you recompile and install the video card driver, of course!).
    Now, please forgive me if I absolutely laugh at the privacy concerns. First, major Internet browsers like Chrome or Firefox are multi-platform affairs and it’s them that do most of the data collection. Second, if you believe that NSA or MI6 or even our very own ASIO are after you, you’re better off letting them know what they want: they have thousands of years of experience extracting information from people — they’re not going to bother breaking into your computer. And third, everyone (except me) loves iPhone and iPad, forgetting that the late Steve Jobs was a well-documented control freak who openly supported Vladimir Putin of Russia. Do I make myself clear? 🙂
    But hey, why not give it a try (I mean, getting Linux?) After all, a few IT pros have become successful fiction authors (Matthew Mathers, for one). Maybe it works the other way around, too?

    • Anarchymedes August 15, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

      Oops, using sudo in Linux doesn’t log you in as root: it simply makes you a supeuser — and this is a very different thing. A rookie mistake for someone who claims professionalism: just goes to show how dangerous arrogance may be. 🙂

  8. david jennette August 15, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

    Ok, take a look at this article. It should explain how to hide the get windows ten ap.

  9. JJ Reuter August 15, 2015 at 7:30 pm #

    Good thing Microsoft doesn’t design cars.

  10. billygotegruff August 18, 2015 at 2:38 am #

    Whatever platform you settle on Chris, please keep up the excellent work.

  11. Martin Conway August 18, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

    What Games did you play? 🙂

  12. conservativlib August 27, 2015 at 2:29 am #

    Chris, you don’t need to run Word on Linux. You can use Open Office. It is free, and it can still save files in the Word format.

    • Gazza September 19, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

      Hiya all, just to note Kingsgate Office, which can save in doc/docx etc
      is also another option, with the plus that it is free and also free for Android Mobiles.

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