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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. 10: Don't release half-baked apps
When Windows 8 hit the stands, the core apps — Mail, Calendar, People, Music, Video, and on and on — were so bad that writers had a hard time writing about them without breaking into epithets. Or tears.

If you're going to toss out a touch-centric app, don't throw us a warmed-over mouse-centric app with a little extra space around the edges. How stupid do you think we are?

Microsoft's in the big leagues. Or at least it should be. Don't give us apps that look like they were thrown together over a long weekend. It's insulting and demeaning.

I'm looking at you, Office 2013.

Microsoft action item No. 11: Break up fiefdoms
We may be seeing some progress on this front, but it's taken a momentous reorg.

I'm convinced that the main organizational reason why Windows 8 turned out as bad as it was (er, is) has a lot to do with the isolation of Sinofsky's organization. Of course, with rare exception, Sinofsky didn't work with anybody and alienated almost everybody. But the problem went deeper.

The fact that Windows Phone was treated as an afterthought by the Windows 8 team speaks volumes. The groups should've been working together from day one. Instead, it was politics as usual, with one person trying to build a fiefdom in a situation where cooperation could've been so much better for Microsoft's customers.

Microsoft action item No. 12: Open up and loosen up
For years, Microsoft had a very open technical core — the people doing product design worked hand-in-hand with people who were going to use the products. TechEd (and before that, the Developer Tools Conference) started with a real two-way, informal interaction between 'Softies and customers.

Times change. In the past few years, Microsoft began aping Apple and cut off nearly all of its informal interaction with the outside community. That may be great if you're developing three or four visionary products per decade, from scratch, no outside interference wanted. But it sucks if you're trying to make a popular product better.

C'mon, Microsoft, what are you afraid of? Competitors stealing your ideas? Pshaw.

 

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