When will Microsoft concentrate on Windows?

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I wish sometimes that Microsoft would just concentrate on its own products. Watching the Microsoft Windows saga over recent years, it appears to be far too interested in what its competitors are doing, to its own (and its customers) detriment. Let me explain.

Microsoft is successful because of the huge success and installed user base of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. Both of these products could be far better with just some simple tweaks. Microsoft appears to be more interested in watching Apple and others, and trying to play catch up with its own user interface, when it should have some confidence in its own ideas and concentrate on improving these.

Here are some of the things I would do if I was in charge at Microsoft:

  • I would stop changing the user interface for changes sake. Its apparent that they have no ideas or plan of their own apart from to look at others. Make a strategy for the Windows user interface, and stick to it. If I can do that with the applications I create, I am sure that anybody with half a brain at Microsoft could do this. Every time they rip the interface apart its an opportunity for competitors such as Apple (who have had a much more stable user interface in recent years) to grab customers. Many people I speak with are sick to the back teeth of Microsoft continuously moving the location of commands so they have to spend time re-learning things they did learn in the past.
  • It would also be good if normal users would not be in administrator mode, that way you could have a more lightweight anti virus (I use Microsoft Security Essentials for my dev machines with real time scanning turned off).
  • Microsoft desktop search has never, ever worked properly in any version of Windows. Its totally useless. I use Agent Ransack which does a fast, brilliant job at finding files on my PC. Office 365 search is equally rubbish.
  • Office 365 does not let me remove an appointment that somebody else has set, I have to go and ask them to remove it even though they might have verbally told me not to attend the meeting – if I try myself, it removes and then comes back. How crap is that?
  • There are a lot of messages that come from windows that should have “Do not show this message again” checkboxes (and a place in the control panel where they can be re-enabled).
  • Why does the focus of the app move away, for example, when I open Outlook on my PC, I press New Mail and start typing and after a few characters I have to use the mouse to re-focus on the new mail window.
  • While on the subject of focus, give the user the option to have new apps open in the background and for the user to completely control the focus of the current app i.e. user should always change the focus manually.
  • When you press start in Windows 7, why does it sometimes refresh and disappear from under the mouse?
  • If you open a Window in Visual Studio for example on my multi screen PC, the window should open on the same screen as the original app, or if no original app, the same screen as where the mouse currently is.
  • It should be easier to control if an app opens maximised or not. A user with a 4K screen say, would probably not want any app to open in maximised.
  • Why put features in if they do not work properly? For example, double clicking on the window bar on my multi screen PC sometimes will maximise the window to all three screens. I never want that – I always want to maximise to the current screen. Again having the option to choose this kind of behaviour would be good.

Some of these choices will not be for everyone but having a consistent place to go and set your options, properly categorised and named, would be really good.

I could go on and on but here is a good place to stop.

About Phil

I have been working as a software developer since 1983. This blog could have been called "From Fortran 77, C and Cobol to C# in 20 (not so) easy years", but it doesn't sound quite right somehow. Besides I'm talking about what's happened since 2003, not before!

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