Why Windows 10's Technical Preview Feedback Promise Might Be Backfiring

Why Windows 10's Technical Preview Feedback Promise Might Be Backfiring

If you remember, when Windows 8 released, Microsoft officials stated that the new, revamped and outlandish operating system served two purposes. First, it represented an evolution designed to meet today's modern touchscreen initiatives, and secondly, it was based on customer feedback. Yes, they did actually say feedback.

Feedback is a wonderful thing. It's generally thought of as an empowering function, allowing anyone to have their voice heard, particularly if the feedback is taken seriously and actually acted upon.

It's important to explain what Microsoft meant when it associated customer feedback with Windows 8. Under the hood, Windows 8 is a fantastic, secure operating system and is clearly the most advanced OS Microsoft has ever created. However, the user interface is where most customers got hung up. Microsoft replaced the old, comfortable Start button and Start Menu with the now infamous Start Screen, the horizontal, scrollable tiled screen. But, here's the catch: Microsoft replaced the Start button and Start Menu based on usage, i.e., feedback. When Windows 7 released, giving the ability to pin apps to the Taskbar, the Start Menu and button were used a lot less.

Usage feedback and metrics is just as important as direct commentary, and sometimes more so in Microsoft's case. I've attended Microsoft planning meetings where the entire time they discussed stats like they were real people. Numbers and stats are great, but they can generally be used to accommodate any perception and belief and used to architect high levels of spin and justification. They say numbers don't lie, but they don't always tell the truth, either, particularly when they are used to replace real feedback from real people.

Paul recently wrote up an article on the most current top 10 user requests for Windows 10 and they're a little shocking considering the Windows 10 Technical Preview is being targeted toward IT Pros and businesses. Understandably, IT Pros are thought to understand what their end-users want and need to be happy and successful with an operating environment, but the top feedback (per Paul's list) is unpardonably consumer-biased. Things like "Make a beautiful boot screen" and "Can't access Charms" and "Add a little animation/transition when opening the Start Menu" are not business critical features. All this even before the consumer preview circus in mid 2015.

I believe Microsoft really does intend to take action on the feedback it receives. But, based on the top user requests, what we may end up getting is something many businesses complained about for the past couple years in Windows 8. If businesses truly want a new, one Windows that is right for the organization, feedback needs to change. If this were a numbers game, and I believe it is, the feedback businesses are giving is going to produce a Windows 10 we'll be complaining about for the next 10 years.

It's not all the testers' fault, though. It doesn't help that Microsoft's own in-OS questions are geared toward the UI and usability. If Microsoft is truly serious about IT Pros and Windows 10 for business, they would be asking questions like "How did this work on your network?" and "Were you able to connect your Microsoft Account with your Work Account easily?" There's still a disconnect. Let's hope it gets better the longer the Technical Preview runs.


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