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An open letter to Microsoft's next CEO: 12 wishes from the Windows faithful

Woody Leonhard | Jan. 28, 2014
We billion-plus customers would like the next head honcho in Redmond to address these dozen action items.

Microsoft action item No. 7: Don't cut XP loose
"I feel a great disturbance in the force, as if half a billion Windows users suddenly cried out in terror, and were told to go pound sand." — Obe-Win Kenobi

Will Microsoft antagonize a third of its customers on April 8, 2014? There have been some momentous "cut off your nose to spite your face" moves in the tech industry, but dropping all patches for Windows XP would certainly take the cake.

Yeah, I know, you figure that XP has been around for more than a decade and deserves to die. But don't forget the Vista debacle. If Vista had been a decent operating system, people buying new computers would've flocked to it. Instead, Vista tanked, and anyone who had a lick of sense and bought a new computer in the Vista years ended up with XP, which was the only real choice until July 2009. You're killing an operating system that has less than five years of roadwear.

Here's how customers look at it: I paid money for Windows XP. Microsoft made billions of dollars, not just from XP, but from the products that followed. And now Microsoft says it can't afford to keep patching Windows? Right.

Microsoft action item No. 8: When you kill something, kill it
It's worse than a "Monty Python" sketch. Microsoft waffles a little bit about Silverlight. Developers come roaring back. Microsoft makes nice about its wonderful developer community. Then it urges Silverlight folks to try something new. Then it slowly just strangles the product — no announcement, no pathway to a better future, no help.

Hell, I'm still receiving Windows Update notices trying to install Silverlight. Don't get me started about ActiveX.

I don't know how many times that's happened, but it always hurts developers (developers, developers) the worse. Microsoft can kick a few developers in the teeth occasionally, but wholesale lying turns entire communities against you.

Microsoft action item No. 9: Patch Monday
2013 has been a banner year for botched Microsoft patches. A couple of years ago, bad patches came out the automatic update chute every other month or so. Last year, we saw them roll out and roll over angry, frustrated, unsuspecting users, in great massive waves.

There are many reasons for the bad patches. No testing regimen will catch all of the stinkers. At least Microsoft can take steps to lessen the chances of delivering a bad patch, by enlisting the help of the customer base at large.

Last September, I proposed introducing Patch Monday — the day before Black Tuesday — where the world in general had a chance to test patches before they were released out the automatic update chute. I still haven't heard back.


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