May 18 2013

Biggest Mistake of Microsoft Windows 8 that Led to 8.1

Microsoft recently announced that the new name for its forthcoming OS refresh will not be Windows Blue but Windows 8.1.

First of all, as someone who has studied the Microsoft Windows division for the past 5 years, I can tell you that even the new name is a big deal.

It’s a big deal because this is the first Microsoft Operating System that has needed a ‘refresh’ to put it generously.

If you think about Windows Vista, it didn’t get a refresh; it got shelved and replaced entirely by Windows 7. This is a very different and much more alarming development.

Second, it’s a big deal because we have had enough time to be able to look at Windows 8 and objectively state, the experiment hasn’t worked.

The sales numbers have been relatively underwhelming and public opinion seems to be pretty much settled at this point. The name Windows 8 is now associated with difficulty, drama and complications.

On the eve of this Microsoft OS refresh, I thought it might be interesting to look back and reflect on how we all got to this point.

For your viewing pleasure, here are the 8 billion-dollar mistakes Microsoft made that killed Windows 8 and led to Windows 8.1:

1. Removing the Start Button

2. Removing the Boot to Desktop option

These two are very public mistakes and they have been discussed ad nauseam, so I won’t pile on here. Both are major mistakes and hopefully, they will be fixed in Windows 8.1.

They do, however, lead straight to mistake number 3.

3. Ignoring User Testing

This is the one that really baffles me.

The Windows 8 Operating System will probably go down in history as one of the most beta tested Operating Systems in history. It had Pre-Beta (leaks), A Developer Preview, A Release Preview and an Enterprise Preview.

According to Microsoft, it had over 1.2 BILLION hours of testing. After 1.2 BILLION hours of testing, how do you miss all these major UI issues? Still a mystery to me.

Well, not so much of a mystery. Here’s probably what happened:

4. Lack of Executive oversight

So after this OS has been tested for 1.2 billion hours, a bunch of senior executives in Redmond must have sat across the table from each other to discuss Windows 8.

Did nobody at that level express concerns? Did nobody say to Steve Ballmer, “Hey Steve, I know this is meant to be the future and everything but I personally find it hard to use…”?

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Dr. Furqan

Dr. Furqan

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