Microsoft frames long-overdue Windows changes as ‘reaffirming our long-standing approach’

Here are the first two paragraphs of a recent post on the Windows blog:

“Today we’re reaffirming our long-standing approach to put people in control of their Windows PC experience and to empower developers to take advantage of our open platform.

We want to ensure that people are in control of what gets pinned to their Desktop, their Start menu and their Taskbar as well as to be able to control their default applications such as their default browser through consistent, clear and trustworthy Windows provided system dialogs and settings.”

These changes are very welcome, and appear to resolve some particularly annoying Windows behaviours that users have been complaining about for decades.

But for Microsoft to frame these much-needed fixes as “we’ve always done this, and now we’re just making sure” is rather amusing. Come on guys, admitting mistakes is healthy. Are you saying these issues are new? Because they’re not. Are you saying you were unaware of these issues? I doubt that very much, because people have been complaining about them for years. No, this is just Microsoft public relations attempting to revise history.

What Microsoft is conveniently leaving out is that the worst offenses of this kind (reverting user settings, pinning and unpinning shortcuts, changing default applications, etc.) have always been committed by Microsoft. For example, Windows Update had a very annoying tendency to revert the default web browser to Internet Explorer.

Microsoft has of course run into legal trouble for some of these behaviours. It seems clear that reverting a user’s default web browser to a Microsoft browser in the process of updating the operating system is unfair to competitors. And Microsoft has been forced to stop doing some of those things.

Anyway, here’s hoping that Microsoft truly is committed, now, to avoiding such devious — and incredibly annoying — practices.

About jrivett

Jeff Rivett has worked with and written about computers since the early 1980s. His first computer was an Apple II+, built by his father and heavily customized. Jeff's writing appeared in Computist Magazine in the 1980s, and he created and sold a game utility (Ultimaker 2, reviewed in the December 1983 Washington Apple Pi Journal) to international markets during the same period. Proceeds from writing, software sales, and contract programming gigs paid his way through university, earning him a Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) degree at UWO. Jeff went on to work as a programmer, sysadmin, and manager in various industries. There's more on the About page, and on the Jeff Rivett Consulting site.

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