Microsoft acknowledges vocal Windows 8 feedback

By Tom Warren, on 2nd Sep 11 12:32 pm with 56 Comments

Steven Sinofsky at CES 2011

Microsoft’s Windows chief, Steven Sinofsky, revealed on Thursday that the company has received a variety of feedback on its early Windows 8 disclosures.

Sinofsky and the Windows team have been detailing a variety of new Windows 8 features over the past few weeks (see links below) and revealed that they have received over 3,000 English language comments from around 1,700 readers. Microsoft’s building Windows 8 Twitter account has also amassed 15,000 followers. “I’ve personally received about 300 email messages,” said Sinofsky in a blog post on Thursday. “We’re talking about a product used by a billion people. No matter how you slice it, that is going to create a very, very large number of perspectives and customers to serve.”

Sinofsky revealed that he has received a number of emails encouraging him to ignore “trolls and fanboys” that have commented on Microsoft’s series of blog posts. “Those are nice to read in the face of an equal number of messages telling me how poor a job we’re doing,” he said. “We also receive a great many very specific questions and suggestions.” Microsoft revealed its ribbon Windows Explorer interface earlier this week which has generated a large amount of feedback for the company. A number of Mac focused blogs have mocked the company for its use of the ribbon interface across Windows. Opinion is certainly divided on the ribbon and Microsoft recognizes this.

“Having an opinion on user interface is not difficult,” says Sinofsky. “My inbox is filled with mock-ups and proposals of dialog boxes and toolbars.” Sinofsky explains that the Windows team mock up a number of scenarios when they evaluate designs. Clearly these designs have created some interesting feedback for the company in the past days and Sinofsky admits that the company is learning how to approach sharing further details. “There’s always learning for us in how we approach this, as the combination of the environment and work we’re doing is unique at each juncture,” explains Sinofsky. “In that sense, we learned one very valuable lesson early on, which is that discussing user interface is something a lot of people want to do, but doing so through static images very quickly misses the point.”

Sinofsky promises that in future posts he will talk about the Ribbon, Metro and Media Center. “I hope to add a bit of additional “focus, light, and magnification” without distorting the bigger picture here. Based on the comments and the dialogue, I do feel that each of these deserves some further discussion,” said Sinofsky. Despite the feedback, Sinofsky is not planning to talk about the programming model for Windows 8 in a blog post, insisting that the company will reveal more details at BUILD. “Early on it was clear this is the sort of topic that will take more than a blog post because we have so much to say and to demonstrate.”

Latest Windows 8 news:

  • Anonymous

    I don’t mind the new UI at all. If they provide a way to customize it, then everybody can do as they wish. Much better that than the apple way of their way or the highway.

    • Anonymous

      I thought the fact they showed a computer running rainmeter in thier ad, proved how much of a great company they are. Where as Apple tried to have people who jailbreak phones arrested.

    • Joe

      It’s Windows. They probably won’t have much internal customization available, but you can sure as hell bet that there will be hundreds of programs that will offer you the ability to do so. It’s Windows, millions of users with billions of ideas on how their UI should look. You won’t have a problem customizing Windows 8 if that’s what you want to do.

  • Candid Calum

    The Immersive experience looks absolutely fantastic and gorgeous. I just hope more people start understanding it.

  • http://hurmoth.com/ Hurmoth

    Kudos to Sinofsky for taking the time to address people’s concerns. I am not a fan of Metro, but I do like the direction they’re going in with the new Explorer UI, even if it does look a bit busy right now. Nevertheless, I look forward to using Windows 8. I wasn’t a fan of the new Windows 7 taskbar until I started using it, and I imagine that the new Windows 8 Metro UI might grow on me too.

    To the people hating it, have an open mind. Use it before complaining about it. It isn’t like Microsoft just woke up one morning and decided to implement this stuff. They are thoughtful designers and deserve a chance for you to use it before whining about it.

    • http://twitter.com/oolong2 oolong2

      I like the new Explorer UI.   I’m more surprised they don’t have it in Windows 7.

      Having ribben in programs like Paint is much more useful than the old menu.  I don’t see why Explorer’s any different than any other application.  They should add it to notepad while they are at it. I would even have it on Internet Explorer if they made it colapsable.

      Monitors and resolutions have gotten far larger over the years.  It’s long past due to use that extra realestate for useful things.

    • http://twitter.com/alexh2o Alex Hooren

      I personally quite like the ribbon too, but following on from your real estate point, I do wish they would have an option to have the ribbon down the side instead. Everything is going widescreen so its the sides that have the spare room…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001039271971 Martyn Metalous

    Initially I was skeptical but after using Metro on my Windows Phone 7, I love it, in fact so much so I don’t want to go back.

    MS just need to gently ease the experience in and allow folks to use the old UI if they choose to.

    • markusdevine

      Totally with you on this. I love my WP7, it is the best phone I have had and I have had an iPhone 4. Love Metro and cannot wait to be able to take my PC with me on the go.

    • J A

      Nope, the old UI should NOT be anywhere in Windows Phone going forward. If that is what anyone wants, they are welcome to get Windows Mobile instead. Today’s mobile devices are new generation and exciting new experiences.

    • Anonymous

      I think he was referring to windows 8 in his last sentence not windows phone.

    • Anonymous

      Both the desktop and Tablet versions of the UI will be available for each user on each device of users choice…as long as its not Apple…

    • Joe

      Totally agree. I use an HD7, and while it took a bit to get used to, I absolutely love it now. I think that once Windows 8 and xBox 360 have the same UI, Windows Phone 7 sales will skyrocket, because people will see how intuitive the UI really is.

    • Joe

      Totally agree. I use an HD7, and while it took a bit to get used to, I absolutely love it now. I think that once Windows 8 and xBox 360 have the same UI, Windows Phone 7 sales will skyrocket, because people will see how intuitive the UI really is.

  • http://twitter.com/SaadElBoury Saad El Boury

    difficult to illustrate UI interactivity via static screenshots, I say ignore the negative feedback and maintain the WP team’s focus, Windows8 already looks stunning! we just need a beta to start exploring and developping on it!

    • Anonymous

      That is not a very good point also brought up by Sinofsky in the comments. He argued that when Office got the Ribbon, people were very skeptical but in the end most of them love the Ribbon interface.

      Now it is different. We all already know how the Ribbon works so we can understand from even some screenshots how the new Explorer will work because it uses interface technology from 2006.

  • http://twitter.com/SaadElBoury Saad El Boury

    difficult to illustrate UI interactivity via static screenshots, I say ignore the negative feedback and maintain the WP team’s focus, Windows8 already looks stunning! we just need a beta to start exploring and developping on it!

  • Delta470

    Some people just don’t like change cause they have to relearn things.   Remember when ATM’s first came out?

    • http://twitter.com/furdworetzky Fur Dworetzky

      I was born 16 years after the first ATM came out. :)

    • Anonymous

      Don’t you think that there is a huge risk to change the most successful OS that much on parts that never seems to be flawed? Well, I definitely think so.

      People were asking about improving Windows for tablets or simplifying the Control Panel. I have never heard complaints that people can’t copy and paste files in Explorer. But now that is what the B8 blog posts try to tell us.

    • Guest

      “I have never heard complaints that people can’t copy and paste files in Explorer. But now that is what the B8 blog posts try to tell us.”

      No. The message as I understand it is that’s what telemetry tells them people spend a majority of their time doing and therefore MS wants to streamline it, thereby making it a more enjoyable or at least productive experience.

    • Anonymous

      There are still people using bank books. Remember those? I haven’t seen one since 1979, yet last week in my local bank I saw three people use them at the teller.

    • Guest

      If you were in your local bank, then you’re as much of a throwback as they are.

    • Anonymous

      OUCH!!! That hurts! :-)

      I would agree with you if the banks here made sense. I live in a nation where banks take 3 working days to transfer money between accounts. For what reason? Nobody can tell me. And deposits by ATM may not show for 2 days… And the staff are not competent enough to do their work without supervision. If you don’t watch them, they may lose deposits. If deposited while you wait, your receipt provides proof of the transaction.

      I didn’t have any of these problems with Wells Fargo in 1989 (not an endorsement). Why, in 2011, they exist is, well, like entering a time-warp… Although I did have some problems with WaMu back in 2001.

  • Zdl8

    Wait…Media Center. It lives!!!!!!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pedro-Roque/100000194503830 Pedro Roque

      I don’t think he said that! He only said he will adress the issue.

    • Joe

      I really hope it lives on in some form… even if its just indigrated into Media Player or Zune software. As long as the functionality is still available, I’ll be happy,

    • Joe

      I really hope it lives on in some form… even if its just indigrated into Media Player or Zune software. As long as the functionality is still available, I’ll be happy,

    • NativeFloridian

      fingers crossed

  • guest

    i don’t like the multitasking, i would rather swipe or press a button somewhere on the screen and than be able to view what i have open, a bit like wp7.

    • Anonymous

      Im almost positive that will be a feature. Just because we haven’t seen it yet doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist

    • Anonymous

      No, it HAS to be a feature.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pedro-Roque/100000194503830 Pedro Roque

    I think they should listen to feedback, but shouldn’t let it dictate the work they do.

    • Anonymous

      That seems to be precisely what they’re doing, which is really nice to see.

      It’s a shame that so many responses on that blog are just plain insulting and not at all constructive, but it’s a good gesture that they’re willing to keep maintaining the blog and put up with all the crap they’re getting for it.

  • Anonymous

    He actually said “Media Center.”   As I said before, I don’t care what the final product is called, but WMC, WMP, and Zune need to come together and leave the bloat behind.  The final tool needs to offer the 10-ft remote experience, a DVR, and easier streaming to/from devices.

    • Anonymous

      There is the rumor that WMC may be gone from the latest builds. I just hope that the functionality and elegance will be integrated right into Windows.

    • Guest

      I don’t see how they could ship a product in 2012 that didn’t have this critical area covered. They’re slow but not stupid.

  • Anonymous

    I want a Bing button!

    • Anonymous

      Isn’t the IE icon a Bing button if you have Bing set as your start page and default search engine?

  • SatisfiedCustomer

    I love the direction of Windows 8.  I was a Apple guy for awhile and they’ve been pulling me back piece by piece.  Love Windows 7, 8 looks great and I love the phone OS.

    • Anonymous

      Same here. Really, really impressed.

  • Anonymous

    I own a WP7 (Samsung focus), XBox 360, Zune (120GB, Gears of war edition :)), Windows 7, Vista and XP still running on my PCs and laptops. I chose to have a Microsoft eco-system. The benefit of doing that is as soon as I walk in my house, all my devices are synced automatically through wireless and data is shared among all the devices. Life just becomes so simple and smooth. I wouldn’t say I am an MS fan, but I like to see everything in harmony and I could accomplish that only through MS so far. By what I’ve seen so far about Win 8, I think it will ride on top of all the other OS MS has developed. I am waiting on Win 8 tablets to roll out so that I can immerse it in my MS “chi”.

  • http://twitter.com/oolong2 oolong2

    The feedback they need to respond to is the DEVELOPMENT ENVIRONMENT…

    They’ve gotten THOUSANDS of messages and MILLIONS of views from people all over the world in the silverlight forums because their lack of clarity over this issue.

    Many companies have shyed away from Microsoft development technologies because of this lack of clarity as well.

    • Guest

      I think that’s what this BUILD thingy is meant to do. And since it appears to be something they think is key to their competitive chances, I can see why they’ve stayed mum on the subject even though it has pissed off some developers.

    • http://twitter.com/oolong2 oolong2

      The only people excited about the BUILD event are people who want to know more about the Windows 8 interface.  That’s it…..

      From a developers perspective there is little excitement over the BUILD event because Microsoft chose to completely ignore the developer story when they announced Windows 8.  So developers have NOTHING to look forward to and many chose not to attend the event as a result.

      Seriouslty why would any developer go to a Microsoft event to learn about Javascript and HTML?  Not only that but they’ve basically shut down all communication on future development tools as a result so no one has any clue what to tell their bosses at work.

      That said I’m sure there will be some good things in store, but the way they’ve managed the Windows 8 anouncement from the developer side of things is quite appalling.

      However If they weren’t prepared to give an overview of the development technology then they NEVER should have said ANYTHING about developing in Javascript/HTML5….  The idea that this would somehow attract web developers to the BUILD event is silly…  They won’t attract a single new developer until people have tablets in their HANDS or at least SEE devices.

      All they have is their loyal developer base which they decided to suddenly alienate after years pf having a policy of openess.. Which I’d bet also effected some people adopting their Azure Cloud platform…  Because in the minds of companies and developers the Microsoft development stack is broken and unclear so why not look at EC2, etc.

      Just seems like a complete PR disaster to me.  Hopefully they can turn it around after BUILD.

      Developers,  Developers, Developers…..

    • Anonymous

      Have to disagree with you here, I think youve lost grip of reality.

      Firstly, nobody other than developers are going to BUILD, its the PDC/WinHEC.
      Secondly, its sold out, and probably sold out way before any other PDC.

      From a developers perspective (I am a Flash/ASP.net developer) there is more to be excited about than ever before. This means I can chooose between HTML/HTML5/Java/Flash/Silverlight to do my app in, or a combination of the above. And I could use Azure OR EC2… thats completely up to me.

      What MS have done is not appalling, they introduced a new feature – HTML5 apps, and then the rest of the world overreacted. And then they went on to clearly state that more information will be available at BUILD, not later, not earlier.

      I will add some other things;

      Windows Media Center (the origin of Metro) has always had two stacks for plug ins – the WMC SDK and HTML. I think this is an extension of the system, excepet this time round they have IE9/10 with HTML5 support.

      People at MyDigitalLife have found a cleaner version of Silverlight/WPF in the leaked builds… what that means is MS is probably merging the two together and making them both better.

      There has been a lot of talk about c++, so I think MS is trying to get their ducks in a row in terms of serving every possible developer; c++, .net, web.

      ALSO, coming from a Flash development background, I have to say that most .net/win devs are no good at making good looking applications. They think of functionality and then throw buttons at the page. Microsoft DESPERATELY need devs with experience making beuatiful applications (as seen on the web) to build their new immersive apps. Look at some of the apps in WP7… all the alignment is off and they look cobled together.

      ALSO ALSO, the cynic in me thinks this is just the browser bundling method again, where Microsoft now have a clear reason to bundle the browser, AND will allow people to create HTML5 applications with metro. What that means is they will build for Windows first, and then the metro will look alien on other platforms. Microsoft probably see an opportunity to ‘own’ (monopolise?) HTML5, since it is not really gaining any traction (or maybe it is, I sure as hell am not seeing it). I think its a very good idea. 

      ALSO ALSO ALSO, if they update Visual Studio to be able to do proper HTML5/Javascript, that will make it the best IDE for web development overnight. 

    • http://twitter.com/oolong2 oolong2

      1.  Hate to tell you but EVERY Microsoft event sells out….  So the fact that it sold out isn’t news.

      And unless they’ve using bigger facilities (doubtfull) this one did not sell out any faster than the previous PDCs.  In fact I was surpised how long it took for this one to sell out given the fact that they were unveiling Windows 8.

      2. Yes it’s clear that they are going with a C++ interface to Xaml and making WPF much more performant.  However at the same time they have been pushing .Net 4 & 5 so the perception is that they are leaving .Net developers high and dry.   This is currently their ENTIRE base of developers.

      Using cross platform development is messy and rarely works out well so stop dreaming of using some combination of Java/HTML5/Silverlight/Flash…   Not going to happen….

      There will be ONE way that will work best on Windows 8 and that’s what developers will gravitate to… period.

      When you’re looking at platform you have to look at the entire stack.  Creating a different development model for Windows 8 vs Windows Phone would be suicide.  So I know that .Net will be supported, but I’m afraid it will be more like a bandaid.

      What they should do is bring .Net runtime closer to the Kernel and vice versa.

      However whatever is going on with Developer Division is causing a lot of uncertainty out there. 

      3. Visual Studio would not be the best IDE for web development overnight.  That’s the problem… there are lots of choices out there for developing HTML and Javscipt.  Without .Net support Visual Studio becomes uncessary.

    • See No Bright Shiny Objects

      Absolutely agree – all of this talk of Metro or not, ribbons or not is entirely meaningless – for if Silverlight is dead, and yes, I’ve personally experienced massive negative consequences of their mishandling of developmental concerns, if Silverlight is dead, then nothing about Metro, ribbons or Explorer will matter, because Windows will thereafter be a platform of no further consequence.  None whatsoever…

    • Guest

      Sure Scott, whatever you say.

  • Guest

    The tone of much of the feedback has been embarrassing. Clearly every Apple-loving, MS-hating asshat has been writing in to criticize, including no doubt many of the same ones who post here. I think Sinofsky did a very good job keeping his response level and clam. It’s got to be difficult and frankly disappointing.

    Outside of the asshats, obviously some will like or not like changes being made. But keep it respectful and productive. And assume the people building the product have at least your knowledge of the product and industry. If they’ve rejected a direction you desire, they probably did it carefully after a level of analysis far deeper than your own. That doesn’t mean they’re right, but I don’t think anything is being done without an understanding of the tradeoffs.

  • Anonymous

    Inasmuch as I would like to see a lot of ideas including my own go into eh design of the win8 I also think MS should o things their way and not try to please everybody..

  • http://www.facebook.com/martin.zugec Martin Zugec

    Windows 8 – cloud era? http://zetconsultants.com/blog/?p=169

    Curious to see how this fits into future announcements about Windows 8 development…
    Martin

    • Guest

      Good analysis.

  • Billkab

    What I have a hard time figuring out is why they moved the shutdown to the right of the screen. You have to go through 2 more steps just to shut down. Weird.

  • Billkab

    What I have a hard time figuring out is why they moved the shutdown to the right of the screen. You have to go through 2 more steps just to shut down. Weird.

  • Billkab

    What I have a hard time figuring out is why they moved the shutdown to the right of the screen. You have to go through 2 more steps just to shut down. Weird.