Microsoft, end the stupid roll outs, just release stuff!
If there's one thing that I wholeheartedly dislike about the tech world it's being told about a brand new product that really appeals, and then having to wait ages for it. It's like that someone who told me about it wants to toy with me, psychologically torture me and, when I couldn't care less about that new and shiny thing, give it to me. Of course, I'm now blowing things out of proportion, but I want you to understand, at some level, how it feels when I'm entrusting part of my tech life to Microsoft.
For some incomprehensible reason, in 2013 Microsoft is still using the expression "rolling out". It defines a vague date of availability for any new changes that it announces. How outdated is that? You may think that Microsoft's roll outs have a specific role, of insuring extra stability and providing a seamless transition, to the new version for its users. But that is, in my opinion, such a pathetic excuse that only a two-year old who is baited with candy by his parents might be inclined to believe.
Roll outs are nothing more than a sad practice at Microsoft, which should have been banned a long time ago, long before the company announced that it's gearing itself towards fast-paced updates. Yes, fast-paced updates. But, fast-paced updates don't mean roll-outs, they imply a certain immediate availability, otherwise you're going to get caught up in an overlapped version state, where different users will get different updates. And, which company that wants to be taken seriously wants that?
You may be wondering what's got me so heated up. Well, there's more than one reason, but I'll start with the latest. Today, Microsoft announced a new, sexy (to describe it as my colleague Brain Fagioli once did) makeover for Bing, one that would get rid of the stale looks that some of us have been used to for too long.
These new changes are, unsurprisingly, rolling out "over the coming weeks" and, again unsurprisingly, only in the US. Why couldn't Microsoft have said that "the new changes are available now, to users worldwide"? Is that so difficult to do? I imagine that company employees aren't traveling worldwide, in each country where Bing is available, in order to flip a switch to give users access to the update. No, because that is just unfathomable.
You may think that I'm crazy for saying this and that Microsoft has a perfectly reasonable reason for why it's still rolling out things and not just releasing them. Well, that "reason" I simply call excuse. There is no good reason as to why Microsoft must roll out stuff. It just chooses to do it. You may think I'm being anti-Microsoft. No, no I'm not. Far from it, in fact. But let me tell you something first, before describing my relationship with Microsoft.
Google understands people, Microsoft doesn't. Like my colleague Wayne Williams said earlier in group chat, "What would Google do? Make the change globally, post on the blog". People nowadays are impatient, they want immediate gratification. There's no fun in waiting when a bed is not involved. And, even then... But I digress. The big question that you should be asking yourselves is: "If Google can do immediate releases, why can't Microsoft?" I honestly don't believe that Microsoft is not capable of doing this, I believe that it chooses not to.
Remember when Microsoft announced a makeover for Bing on Windows Phone? Well, that makeover has yet to reach my Nokia Lumia 920. It's still showing me the previous version, even though, at least theoretically, it's entirely compliant (US regional settings and location, etc.) with Microsoft's requirements. That too is a US-only affair, because, you know, Windows Phone has no users outside of US and its US market share is huge (yes, I'm being ironic here).
Similarly, Microsoft screwed up Surface launch and sales by revealing the tablets way before making them available on the market. And, in typical Microsoft fashion, they were only available in a couple of countries in the first couple of months, with lots of people worldwide still having problems buying them close to a year after Surface RT was released. Apple doesn't have this problem, because it releases its tablets (almost) everywhere, shortly after announcing them. That's how you sell stuff today. Not by promising, but by delivering instead.
These are just a couple of recent Microsoft roll outs that spring to mind. There are others too, like the Skype roll out for Outlook.com and the full Windows Phone photo and video backup outside of US roll out (Wayne reminded me about the initial US-only Zune earlier -- needless to say, that approach paved the way to utter failure). It's my understanding that Microsoft doesn't see a connection between its roll out policy and the recent screw-ups (Surface sales, poor Windows Phone adoption, etc).
Getting back to my relationship with Microsoft, I'm almost all-in with the company's services. I use Outlook.com for personal email, Calendar and People to keep track of upcoming events and organize my contacts, SkyDrive for cloud storage and photo and video backup from my Windows Phone, OneNote for sharing notes in Windows Phone groups, Skype to talk with folks far away, Bing to search for things and, heck, you must have figured it out already that I use a Windows Phone (even though I was subtle -- hey, I'm trying to be funny too). I'm almost all-in because I use Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air (mid-2013) -- which I'll write about as soon as time permits -- and OS X, instead of a Windows-based PC and... umm... Windows.
I am quite baffled that Microsoft still uses that same outdated principle of announcing a big change, or new product, today and releasing it later down the road, when frankly almost no one who cared at the time remembers it any more. It's an old way of doing things, which the company has to remove from its "How we do things at Microsoft" book (I'm making that name up, yes).
I've made a commitment to give Microsoft's products a chance in my life -- and I've taken this quite seriously -- and what do I get in return? A metaphorical kick in the ass, and being made to wait when there's no good reason for it.