Windows 9 Will Gain From Microsoft's Windows 7 Experience
Windows 9 Will Gain from Microsoft's Windows 7 Experience
by Don Reisinger
Back to the Future Is Always the Best Course of Action
Microsoft learned a valuable lesson with Windows 7. Change for the sake of change isn't a good idea when it comes to PC operating systems. Sticking with some of the features that made an earlier operating system version a great success makes sense. With Windows 7, Microsoft brought out a design that was more familiar and comfortable for Windows XP users and allowed for full software for their application software through Windows XP mode. Although different changes need to be made to Windows 9, reports that it's bringing back the familiar Windows desktop interface in full force and ditching the Charms shortcuts implemented in Windows 8 seems like a good first step.
Simplicity Is Always the Best Policy
If the customers have said it once, they've said it countless times: Simplicity is most appealing. When Windows Vista launched, users were jarred by its new design and file structures that left them scratching their heads. Windows 8 has been a downright mess from a simplicity perspective, due in large part to the Metro-style apps and Charms bar. Windows 7 was simple. And Microsoft needs to bring back that simplicity in Windows 9.
Actually Listening to Customers Is a Good Idea
If there is any lesson that Microsoft needs to relearn is that it needs to listen to customer needs and suggestions and act accordingly. Microsoft heard all of the complaints surrounding Windows Vista and set out to fix them all. The result was a solid operating system in Windows 7. Now Microsoft must do that again. It must remember all those complaints about Windows 8 and deliver what users are looking for in Windows 9.
Listen to the PC Vendors
Like Windows XP, Windows 7 is still running on computers sold by Microsoft's PC partners because they don't believe that Windows 8 will adequately satisfy customers. To address that same problem with Windows Vista, Microsoft went to its OEM partners and asked them what they would need to invest in its new operating system. We can only hope that Microsoft repeated that process as it developed Windows 9. Absent that, it's hard to see how Windows 9 can absolve the sins created by Windows 8.
Listen to the Enterprise and Legacy Needs
The corporate world has long been an important driver for success in Redmond. With Windows Vista, enterprise customers balked at deploying it, fearing that its security problems and its lack of support for legacy products would create havoc in the office. Corporate PC users don't want to relearn how to use the operating system they have been using successfully for the past 10 or 20 years. Enterprise customers were loath to adopt Windows 8 for fear of losing out on employee productivity. Microsoft must understand the corporate world's needs and deliver on them in Windows 9.
Realize (Again) That Taking Big Chances Doesn't Work
Microsoft has painted itself into a corner with all of its success. While it would like to take big chances and create a truly innovative platform for all users to enjoy, its millions of users across the globe have to be slowly brought into the fold with iterative updates that eventually get them to where Microsoft wants them. Making drastic changes as it did in Windows Vista and Windows 8 doesn't work. Now, Microsoft needs to backtrack a bit and make users feel comfortable. Then, and only then, can it bring them into the fold.
Keep Focusing on Security and Productivity
Windows Vista had security issues due in large part to User Account Control that was supposed to improve it. With Vista, users grew weary of all of the clicking required to approve certain moves and walked themselves into security traps. Windows 7 fixed that. Windows 8 is by no means a security issue, but that doesn't mean it can't be improved. With Windows 9, Microsoft must focus on delivering an operating system with the fewest security flaws that need to be corrected after it hits the market.
Consider Competitive Forces Before Choosing a Path
Reports suggest that Microsoft will make Windows 9 free to enhance its appeal in the marketplace. That's in response to Apple, which has launched its last few operating systems at no charge to improve adoption. Launching Windows 9 for free would be a smart move and would show that Microsoft understands the changing marketplace. With Windows 7, Microsoft similarly took some cues from Apple's OS X. Sometimes, borrowing ideas is actually a good thing.
Get Real About Priorities and Company Strategic Goals
Microsoft has made it clear that it's a "mobile-first, cloud first" company. That means that Windows might or might not play such a crucial role in its future. Microsoft also needs to be open and honest with its customers and partners. With Windows 7, Microsoft said that it needed everyone to come along for the future of Windows. With Windows 9, the company needs to make clear that the operating system is part of a broader strategy aimed at making it easier for users to access data and applications in the cloud. It's just fine to admit that Windows is playing a different role in Microsoft's product mix. Honesty is integral to Windows 9's success.
Be Willing to Admit Mistakes and Say 'Sorry'
To his credit, Steve Ballmer was willing to admit that Windows Vista was a mistake and set out to fix the problem. Now it's Satya Nadella's turn. When he announces Windows 9, Nadella needs to acknowledge the troubles Microsoft has had with Windows 8 and say that the company has set out to fix them. A company that isn't willing to say "sorry" is one that can't ultimately overcome mistakes.