Stuck Windows And Squeaky Gates

With all the turmoil surrounding politics and more. A few other spectacles came into sight that also had me shaking my head in both laughter as well as disbelief.

There is the debacle currently taking place in Microsoft’s (MS) newest version of Windows®. It turns out as of this writing users aren’t all that crazy about it. So much so that MS itself has issued an acknowledgement and, are going to do more than an update to fix bugs. They need to make major changes. (Yes – the complaints are getting that bad)  If this isn’t this centuries first “New Coke” moment, nothing is.

At work there’s no-time, or a do over when the boss (customer, etc.) looks at you red-faced as you try to explain it wasn’t you rather – it was the new software as the reason to explain issues. People get ticked off really, really, really fast if made to look stupid. (Did I say really?)

Top this one point of contention off with the most ridiculous statements made in response from none other than Mr. Gates himself. He pointed to sales of the new operating system (OS) as a measure of its acceptance in the market place. Yes, sales are good however, why are they buying? Forced replacement!

Remember New Coke®? It had great sales also when first launched. The only difference here were those customers disdain was quickly shown and measured by their not repurchasing in a sales cycle measured in days if not hours. MS newest debacle with the “New Windows” might not show its true extent or damage to its brand for an extended period. Although I believe that damage is now there in a very big way.

MS basically forced a new OS out the door trying to create a “No need to go anywhere else we have that stuff here also” mode in my view. And it shows. Along with the very intention as to replace all of its other systems where security, updates, and more will no-longer be supported. So basically you need to upgrade. Whether you want to or not.

IT departments along with everyone else want sustainability and relative support for anything to do with business. There’s really not that much of an alternative one can do quickly. Yes there’s Cloud this and Cloud that. However that’s still in its infancy. Real business needs reliable, serviceable, and security rich alternatives today. Just the security issue alone can be a motivating factor for an IT based decision to go with the new Windows. IT departments care about security first – user experience and all the rest second. And – 9 times out of 10 – IT makes the decision. Period.

MS’s thinking and strategy also seems to be ludicrous in its assumptions for acceptance. Let me give you an example.

Just imagine you’re on the business trip of your life. Your chance to score your largest client to date. Everything rides on the outcome. The meetings at 7AM sharp the next morning. You arrive at the hotel late with only 4 hours sleep now available. You enter your room, the bed is grand, the layout superb. Only then do you realize the alarm clock you are now going to depend on doesn’t work like 99.9% of all the others. This is the new “Doors powered Alarm Clock.”

It’s the same brand you’ve used for years however, now there’s no buttons to press, no nothing you’re used to. The interface, the face of the clock itself are all different. Next to the clock is a 1287 page manual in multiple languages stating how easy it is to learn the new OS for this gadget laden marvel. It can now do 4897 simultaneous alarms tones (found on page 603) with one gesture (found on page 286) for 12 different time zones. (found on page 339)

Everything you need to learn as to set this new marvel can be found within the index located in rear of the manual (beginning on page 1098). However, it you feel overwhelmed with the instructions fear not. Just call customer service between the hours 9 to 5, M-F, and remember to listen to the recording fully because – some of the options have changed.

Now how well are you impressed with the new clock? I hope you see my point.

Want to tell your friends how beautiful and complex the clock in your suite was? Or will you need to concoct a story for telling your boss, co-workers, or clients the reason why you missed or were late to the meeting was for an alarm clock you couldn’t figure out how to operate?

Maybe it’s the best selling alarm clock this replacement cycle however. What would be the odds they’ll be repurchased in the same numbers by the hotels next time? Especially if they pay attention or read the guest complaint postings. This analogy sums up what it’s like for many using the “New Windows.”

Add to all this the continuing disastrous sales of The Surface®.

Personally I’ve been on the road this last couple of weeks. Currently I’m in Columbus, OH learning the city as they ready my new residence. Columbus is the 15th largest city in the country. It’s home to “The” Ohio State University where the president gave the commencement the other week. It’s booming here with one of the lowest unemployment figures in the nation.

There is also a vibrant assortment retailers from Walmart®, to Tiffany®. There are all levels of income expressed here. A real cross-section of all income classes. As well as a real diversity of people.

I’ve toured some of the open spaces, museum areas, university campus, and coffee houses where hundreds of students are strolling through consistently regardless of time frames. You know what I have yet to see at any of them, and everywhere else I’ve been? A Microsoft Surface. I mean not one!

Everywhere I see people reading iPads®. Kids (I mean 10 and under) I’ve seen with iPad Mini’s®. Everyone else was on a smart phone of some type. Laptops?  Near nonexistent. However when I did see one, more often than not – it was a Mac®. I personally was surprised just how few anything Windows-based I’d seen. The more I looked – the fewer I found.

MS appears irrelevant in the personal space today more than ever. (if that’s even possible) So for all its enterprise dominance it has continued with an ever slipping stranglehold on what’s left. Because in now seems to be infuriating more of its customer base by delivering a new version of an operating system that no one wanted. While seemingly forcing it down their throats as a “must have” innovation. Regardless if it doesn’t work the way they want it.

I believe someday this will be a text-book case taught in marketing 101-2.0. Before one contemplates launching anything “New” it will be required to read something in line with: Why You Might Be The Next “New Coke or New Windows.” A case study in tone-deaf management.

Think management or the former CEO at MS can’t seem even more tone-deaf? Just think of the absurdity of another statement Mr. Gates gave in response to why people should buy the Surface over the iPad.

He was reported as making claims that iPad users are frustrated with their devices because (wait for it…) the lack of a keyboard, and other such absurdities. Has he removed himself so far from the real world that he’s never seen or heard of Bluetooth® devices either?

It’s one thing to stand up for your company’s product. It’s quite another to appear tone-deaf and out of touch.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr