Turning on a dime

I don’t think it is any secret that Windows 8 is not doing well. The ModernUI or MetroUI was a bold move but not one which was well received by consumers. Big changes of that sort are seldom well received. It isn’t necessarily because the new UI is wrong or broken(I think it is broken but that’s not the point) it is just that people have invested a lot of time into learning the old way of doing things and change is scary. Remember when Office 2007 came out with the ribbon? Total disaster. At the time I watched a little documentary that Microsoft put out about the research they put into the productivity of the ribbon vs the old tool bars. It was amazing, they spent hours and hours on the thing doing A/B testing in a user interface labritory. I don’t remember the exact stats but they found the ribbon to be far more productive than the tool bar any only take a few hours to learn. I think the stat was that within 3 days users were more productive on the ribbon than the tool bars. Still the outcry was palpable and to this day my dad complains about not being able to find things on the ribbon(Office 1997 was really the high water mark for him).

I imagine similar testing went on with ModernUI and we’re seeing the same sort of backlash. Only this time users have alternatives: tablets and Macs. In 2007 there was no alternative to MS Office, I think you can argue that remains true. The Microsoft of today is a different beast from that of 2007: they are more responsive to user complaints. So this summer they are launching Windows 8.1 which is designed to fix many of the problems in Windows 8. Well fix the perceived problems with Windows 8. I never felt there was a big problem with Windows 8 which needed fixing in the first place. Already I’m seeing complaints that the new Start button is junk and that Windows 8.1 is no better than Windows 8. However the point is that Microsoft, a huge multi-zillion dollar company with more momentum than the ship in Speed 2 changed their whole Windows strategy.

I remember this being a terrible movie.I remember this being a terrible movie. I bet it is better than Numbers Station, though.

Good on them! Now it cost them a few executives to make the change but if Microsoft can do this then what is stopping you and your company from making big changes? See change isn’t that hard, it just requires that you value the end user more than the process.