Microsoft is using Windows 10 to see just how far it can push customers before they break


If you believe what comes out of Microsoft's figurative mouth, these days the company is all about listening to feedback. That's certainly the message that has been put forward with Windows 10, with the Feedback Hub app being made available to everyone with the operating system installed. Microsoft makes much of the fact that Windows 10 is installed on around 300 million computers, but the reality is that a portion of these installations relate to people who have been hoodwinked into upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8.

The latest trick (tricking users in to installing Windows 10 by clicking a button that would suggest that the offer is being declined) generated such a backlash that Microsoft has been forced into an embarrassing 'u-turn'. Annoying people with Windows 10 is far from unprecedented, and these days it seems Microsoft just likes to see how much it can get away with -- with the possibility of then saving face by 'listening to feedback' and changing tack.

How has Microsoft tried the patience of users with Windows 10? Let me count the ways! We've have 'promoted apps' in the Start menu (ads by another name), and with Windows 10 Anniversary Update you -- you lucky, lucky people, you -- can expect to see the number of ads double. Oh… and there are ads on the Lock Screen too. The trickery with the current 'upgrade to Windows 10' popup is not the first time upgrade offers have pissed people off. There are tales of endless nagging and 'accidental' upgrades to Windows 10, when many people just want to avoid it forever.

But it's not just home users that Microsoft is testing. Windows 10 Pro admins are prevented from blocking users from using the Windows Store, wrestling all-important control from their hands. For those apps that are preinstalled (don’t get me started...), users are pestered to leave reviews. For those using Insider builds of Windows 10 there is also the matter of being nagged to provide feedback about the operating system itself. (Yes, I realize that giving feedback is sort of the point of the Insider program, but I'll do it when I'm ready, OK?)

There's the lack of control over updates... and then, of course, there are the endless privacy issues -- telemetry as Microsoft sanitizingly refers to it. There's the phoning home, the recording of how long people use Windows 10... it's just one thing after another.

Windows 10 really does feel like an exercise in which Microsoft sees what it can get away with. If it pushes things too far, it can always retreat and, possibly get back into people's good books. It’s one thing for Microsoft to use Windows Insiders as guinea pigs for new ideas, it's something completely different to perform experiments on people who don’t even have -- or want -- Windows 10 installed.

Something needs to change. Microsoft's install base of 300 million may sound impressive, but how many people have been disillusioned along the way? How many people have been pushed to OS X or Linux because they’ve just had enough of being played with?

Time to change your attitude, Microsoft.

Photo credit: Kreangkrai Indarodom / Shutterstock

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