Do More with Less

A reader comments on Microsoft's new products

Lately I’ve been picking on Microsoft’s silly marketing slogans. Remember the slogan for Windows Server 2003? It was “Do More with Less.” At the time of the launch, I got a lot of blank stares at Microsoft when I pointed out that this slogan implied that Windows 2003 was “LESS” than Windows 2000. (I remember one VP who condescendingly explained to me that the slogan meant that Windows 2003 would make you more productive. Obviously, he wasn’t very attuned to the slogan’s ambiguity.)

            Well, that slogan came to mind again when I received the following email from long-time reader and contributor, Murat Y?ld?r?mo?lu. Here’s Murat’s message:

The history of the Microsoft’s products has been decreasing the complexity, getting rid of the “more” and offering “less.” First, we had the DOS-Windows 3.0 duality, which was resolved with Windows 95. In Windows 3.0 we had the File Manager-Program Manager duality, which was resolved with Windows Explorer. We still have the Netbios-Winsock duality, but this will be resolved into Winsock. We had many protocols, including Microsoft’s own NetBEUI. Now we have only TCP/IP.

These were the joyful and hopeful times.

Microsoft made us accustomed to having fewer and fewer components to deal with. It was good for all of us. But, with the introduction of the new products, everything has changed. We had “less” before, but now we have “more”:

·        XP had only three versions: XP Home, XP Pro, XP Starter

·        Now Vista has 6 editions

·        Exchange 2003 Server had only 2 roles: Back-end and front-end

·        Exchange 2007 has 5 roles now

·        Word 2003 had two file types: .doc, .dot

·        Word 2007 has 6 file types: .doc, .dot, docx, dotx, docm, dotm


Yes, it is true, all those “more” components enrich our experience: We have many more functions. But the cost of the “more” is the loss of the simplicity. All three products above should be seamless like utilities, but they are not. Even professionals like me have difficulty absorbing so many changes.

The second negative new feature is the new interfaces on all these new products. I’m sick of the interface changes. I had spent half of a day trying to figure out the location of the Exchange Server account in Outlook 2000. (By default, Outlook 2000 was configured as Internet mail only, and in this configuration you cannot add an Exchange Server account. You had to reconfigure mail support and activate the Exchange functionality. It was a nightmare.).

In my life, I’ve seen that teenagers and college students keep changing their hair, beards, clothes, etc.—that is, they keep changing their interfaces. Though Microsoft has come of age (it is 32 years old), it still keeps playing with the interfaces of its products. Each of its new products has a new look and feel. The IT staff (including me) and all the end-users are sick of it, tired of it. Ok, there comes a time to change the interface but how can it be every 3 to 4years?

What do you think?

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