Author of Time Rep and Note To Self

People who make glass operating systems shouldn’t throw stones…

Imagine this scenario: a few years ago, you bought a brand new car, and paid good money for it. As cars go, it works just fine and does everything you want it to do. You’re not interested in trading it in for a new model, you just want to keep using it. And what’s wrong with that? You bought the car – it’s yours to do with as you please. However, the manufacturer or this fictional car (let’s call them, say… Sicromoft), really wants you to swap your old car for a new model they’ve just bought out. It’s free, they tell you. It’s much better than that old car you drive. Millions of people have already swapped their old car for a new one and are loving it, so why wouldn’t you?

Well, for whatever reason, you don’t want to upgrade. Maybe it’s the colour, maybe it’s the fact you’re used to the way it handles, but it doesn’t matter, does it? It’s your car, so you shouldn’t have to justify your reasons for not wanting to upgrade to anyone. But this isn’t good enough for Sicromoft. You see, they know better than you, and they really want you to swap. One day, you get in your car, and your phone rings. You pick it up. It’s a nice chap from Sicromoft, asking you if you want to upgrade. You say no, ask them not to call back, and hang up.

The thing is, they never stop calling. Every time you get in your car, before you have a chance to start the engine, that nice chap from Sicromoft calls, just in case you changed your mind. Months go by, and no matter how many ways you try and block the calls, they keep ringing. They won’t take no for an answer. Surely you want to upgrade by now. The new car is so much better. No, you tell them, you do not want to upgrade. Please leave me alone. I just want to drive my old car. Okay, they say, but you know they’ll be on the phone again the minute you start a new journey.

Eventually, Sicromoft take things a step further. One day, while you are driving down a busy road to an important meeting, the entire windshield blacks out, and the words “would you like to upgrade to a new Sicromoft car?” pop up on front of you. You panic, slamming on the breaks and hoping no-one outside is going to get hurt. You never knew your car had the capability to interrupt you like this whilst driving, and are understandably very angry. So you look for a way of getting rid of the message. Underneath the question asking you if you want to upgrade are two buttons: Yes, and Yes. But you don’t want to upgrade. You notice in the corner a small ‘x’, which you assume means ‘cancel’, so you press it. You just want to get on with your journey, after all.

However, upon pressing the x, the screen says “Thank you for agreeing to upgrade!”, and the car begins to transform around you, with you stuck in the middle of it. People around you are honking their horns, but there is nothing you can do. You try and cancel the upgrade, but there is no means of doing so. Helpfully though, the text on the windshield is replaced with a progress bar, saying that the upgrade will be complete in five hours. You think about the meeting you were supposed to be going to. You think how you would have been there by now if Sicromoft had just left your car alone and allowed you to use it freely with no interference. But this incident reveals to you that Sicromoft don’t really care, and they never did. They just want you to have the new car, regardless of what you want.

Fortunately, we don’t live in this sort of world, because automobile companies know that if they showed such utter contempt for their customers, they would go out of business pretty quickly. The same however, cannot be said for Microsoft, who seem to not care in the slightest about what their customers want, or more specifically, what they don’t want. Reading in the news this week about the way in which Microsoft are blatantly tricking people into upgrading to Windows 10 makes me sick. Never in my life have I witnessed a company display such a callous arrogance and disregard for its customers, and the way they continue to refuse to apologise for these methods (even if they have backtracked on some of them) makes my blood boil. Everything about the way Windows 10 is being forced on us is utterly reprehensible, and Microsoft should be utterly, utterly ashamed of themselves.

I think this whole upgrade fiasco is actually a very dangerous thing for Microsoft, and reveals that they still arrogantly see themselves as holding a monopoly in the world of operating systems, and are therefore able to weather any knocks to their reputation. That was true a few years ago, but it ain’t true any more. You only have to look at how Google and Apple are stealing the march on them in the mobile space to understand that Microsoft has problems. Windows is a bit-player on tablets and phones, and as more and more people migrate over to these portable devices, Microsoft’s relevance is starting to dwindle. As a company, they should be treating customers with respect, encouraging people to try windows 10 through educational, persuasive means, rather than duplicitous trickery. People now have the power to take their business elsewhere, and unless Microsoft changes the way they do things and stops throwing those stones at their customers, the whole windows operating system will come crashing down on them.

And do you know what? Part of me hopes it does.


P.S. Written with Microsoft Word.


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