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02 March 2016

Windows 10. A long way to go before it's user friendly.

I had the experience of upgrading to Windows 10 on two devices and took advantage of the free upgrade programme. As someone technically aware, I am concerned that the difficulties I faced would put a lot of other people off, so although the process has gone well for some and Windows 10 is certainly a massive leap forward over Windows 8, there are a number of fundamental concerns, these are.
1. When Microsoft brought out Windows 8, people disliked it. They liked Windows 7. So why not make Windows 10 look like Windows 7. I don't really want the dancing tiles on my start menu thanks. A simple option to get rid of them or for them to be available via a link rather than every time I click start would have been a huge help. Microsoft is trying to force tiles on everyone and as we saw with Windows 8, these are not to everyone's taste.
2. A large number of people, including myself (but only on one of my devices) cannot get Cortana to enable. Here is the bug I logged . The issue here is that the search function on the start menu appears to be slow without this enabled. However as you can see from my comments, the "guess and search" response to fixing this is very 1980's thinking. In 2015, Windows 10 should be looking at the settings and enabling Cortana if I am in a supported area. If it isn't enabled, I should have a button to fix it and a help popup explaining why it isn't working rather than guess and search and experiment with settings. We were done with this type of problem solving 20 years ago. If a core part of Windows 10 isn't enabled, perhaps Microsoft should have invested in an OS that can diagnose and fix the problem or guide users towards a solution.
3.  Upgrade errors that are hexadecimal. This is still a thing in 2015? I coded on mainframes in the 1980s and such a thing might have been acceptable then but it is a joke these days. You have programmers, code a look up table between error codes and what they mean. This computing problem was solved decades ago. Users are not interested in hexadecimal dump values in a consumer oriented OS. Must do better.
4. The performance is an issue, perhaps related to point 2. The solution to the performance is that there isn't one other than fiddle about with startup settings, guess, try and hope. In response to the guess, try and hope solution I wrote this
Perhaps I should work for Microsoft. No disrespect to the person who answered the query, but for this to be the best Microsoft solution is in 2015 rather a joke and is not much different from the early days of DOS and tweaking that 640K of RAM to see what worked.
 There are plenty programs out there such as Soluto, Advanced System Care and others that can monitor boot time, track slow apps and suggest improvements. If Windows is trying to appeal to the general user who isn't technically aware this should be the process. Busy people do not have hours spare to sit at a PC making system admin changes and waiting for a PC to repeatedly boot.
 i. Windows should automatically detect there is a performance issue or
ii. The user could ask a windows application to investigate performance issues
iii. Windows makes the appropriate changes and notes the performance of certain programs at boot time and makes recommendations for non essential apps to be deferred or switched off.
 iv. The system is then reevaluated and there is an option to send in diagnostics if needed.
 The very idea of tweaking msconfig and switching off everything is far too low level for the average user and when you are done, the probable assumption is that everything will be turned back on including services that might have been off to start with and this will then make the problem worse. 
 Microsoft, you are a multi billion pound company and this is 2015 not 1985. You must do better than this. Do you think Apple, Google or Amazon would have designed something like this?
5. A combination of the hex dump values and the missing registry setting. I got Windows 10 working great on my laptop but had to tweak the registry to do so. Microsoft, aside from the user hostile error messages which I have already criticised you on, putting a one liner in the registry is a simple programming issue you should have put in the upgrade software. Why not?
6. I wanted to link my Google accounts to Windows Calendar. When doing so, you get the usual privilege grab of Microsoft wanting to run my Google account and delete my email. My Google account however has a calendar but not email so Microsoft can ask all it likes about managing my email, but it won't get its way with me. Microsoft appears unable to deal with the fact my Google account is a login with a calendar attached and no email account. When Windows 10 did import my calendar, it didn't respect the calendar settings and I have the incredibly annoying birthday calendar turned off. So Windows 10 reminded me about several thousand birthdays. A huge number of people, myself included several times fed back to Google what an annoying feature this was in G+. You can read the trail here. G+ is now dying a death - Google trying to force users into features they disliked and failing to take this on board, a bit like Windows and the forced tiles. The user is king, not the product development board.
7. My main PC (3 years old) worked fine with Windows 7 but after upgrading wouldn't shut down. The shutdown process kept hanging indefinitely. I tried switching off fastboot as recommended here but it didn't fix it. We've had server logging systems for ages in the corporate environment in which errors are flagged when servers are unusually slow. Windows 10 needs something like this - shutdown took over 5 minutes! Analyse the last log, look up the solution and implement it. Instead the user is left with doing this 
shutdown -F -T ## -C “Your message here”
Really? In 2015? 
I realise that not every OS upgrade will go smoothly, but the appalling way Microsoft handles error conditions (some with Cortana that just look like bugs), diagnosing them automatically and of fixing them for the average user who isn't PC confident does wonder if there is anyone at Microsoft truly focussed on the end user experience for technical problems. We shouldn't have to Google (sorry, BING) around the web for solutions. An intelligent OS should refer to a knowledge base that's updated, vetted and then implement the solution automatically.
I have interviewed for Google, Amazon and Microsoft over the years. I'm available if you want a fresh approach to problems that are customer centric.  Especially asmy ideas from 2008 about search are still valid. 
Original article at please also feel free to comment there.

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