There are shortcomings and blind spots that you get the moment you sign up to be a tech reporter, blogger or work in the industry itself. Besides your season pass to Microsoft Word and encouragement to be a habitual email lurker on your days off, you get a sense that you know what’s good for other people.
I once infamously claimed that Windows 8 was fine. I said – publicly – that people who didn’t like Microsoft’s efforts to modernize Windows should be “dragged kicking and screaming” into the modern era. I’ve aged enough to know that comment was pretty, though I’m sure I could probably dig up worse things I’ve said on Twitter. By the time Microsoft was ready to release Windows 10, I’d matured. Sure, I liked the operating system and the Surface Pro 4 that the company introduced soon after its Windows 10 launch. I’d been using the new software for months. It was fine, but I urged people to hold off on upgrading. I wanted normal users to take themselves out of the line of fire. I didn’t want anyone loading the operating system on their device and finding a completely broken experience.
It’s been more than a year since Microsoft launched Windows 10. In that time, it’s proven adept at adding new features and apps to the operating system faster than it ever has before. It’s also proven that there’s a dark side delivering an operating system as a service: Bugs.
If you’ll forgive me for some less than eloquent writing here, I’ll state my case in simple terms. In my experience, Windows 10 has been the buggiest piece of software I’ve ever used on a daily basis.
Please allow me to chronicle my week for you. My Microsoft Surface Pro 4 has acted strange ever since the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. I typically use Windows Hello to unlock it. After the update, Hello hangs so long that it’s faster for me to type in my PIN code than it is to use it. My Outlook.com email – my main contact point for everything in my life – has stopped syncing to Microsoft’s Mail app. The last time it synced was August 23rd. Groove Music, which has added tons of new features in the last two months – has stopped being able to play music without warning. It’ll crash suddenly. Open it up again and everything works just fine. Cortana, a feature I use heavily, can’t be trusted to play a song I tell her to without crashing. This was after she started telling me that she couldn’t look things up for me because of a spotty internet connection. I had full cellular reception. This happens every few days.
Microsoft Edge managed to go from being an app I could tolerate to a slow, crashy app that can’t handle advertisements on blogs, can’t load Amazon correctly and will likely find itself replaced by Firefox on all my devices.
Before you ask me, neither of these devices are in Microsoft’s Windows Insider Preview. This is production software we’re talking about.
You don’t have to trust my experience. You might have heard about Microsoft recently breaking the web cameras of millions. Or perhaps, you’ve noticed the steady stream of people complaining about not being able to reliably access their email on Twitter. Xbox One’s Cortana integration isn’t better than classic Kinect integration. If anything, it’s marginally a net loss for those that choose to use it.
We all like features delivered to us quickly. We all thought that in delivering updates faster, Microsoft would be able to show real people that they care about improving their everyday lives. I think the company can still do that.
I also think that it’s failing to do that today. Let’s get real. Microsoft had to change its delivery methods and strategy because it was losing mindshare to mobile operating systems pretty quickly. How do you think those people perfectly fine with walking away from your software or use it less frequently are going to react when they realize that they find themselves troubleshooting your products more than they used to?
A while ago, I saw a few guys on Twitter joking that someone at Microsoft should be wearing a red hat with the message, “Make Microsoft’s Software Great Again.” They were kidding around, but I’m not. Someone at Microsoft needs to be tasked with plugging the holes in their process that are letting serious bugs – like breaking millions of web cameras temporarily – through.
I’m not a developer, nor do I play one on TV. I’m a guy trying to use Windows to get things done and right now the operating system is making that harder.
You caught me. I told you we make sweeping claims of what we think is best for everyone.
That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re wrong.