Ditch the marketing speak, Microsoft, and talk to us like humans

Ditch the marketing speak, Microsoft, and talk to us like humans
Has Microsoft forgotten that we just want software that works?

In a move that absolutely, definitely has nothing to do with Apple already being on version 10 of its Mac operating system (Microsoft just hates the number 9, didn't you know?) we're jumping straight from version 8 to version 10 of Windows. What we've seen so far (the technical preview) is only meant to be a tiny glimpse of what the full release will offer, but I like it.

It's been available for download for a month or so now, so I've had plenty of time to get to grips with it. Even as an early version, it's essentially the version of Windows that I wanted Windows 8 to be. It's got the cool tile-based Start screen, which is the default when you're on a tablet, but keeps something sensible in reserve for desktop users - a desktop, Start button and Start menu, which appears when you're using a keyboard, or a traditional desktop PC. Great! This one simple change alone means Microsoft has got a hit on its hands.

At the launch event Microsoft was keen to emphasise that this release was for the enterprise users, and that the consumer (for that read "eye candy") features would be absent. Actually, Microsoft, this stripped back version is probably what most people, including me, actually want in the final release. So, can I just put in a little request now, before it all goes too far? How about you just stop there. There's no need to add all the bells and whistles that so marred Windows 8 - sometimes, less is more.

Simplicity is beautiful

There's another Microsoft Windows event rumoured for the end of January, where the covers come off the new consumer features. But rather than focusing on this, what Microsoft should be shouting from the rooftops is: "Hey, the Start menu is back! All you businesses who are still using Windows 7 - you can upgrade in safety now!" Maybe that won't do much for the share price, or the Google and Facebook-obsessed investors, but it's what people really want to hear.

There's something else that Microsoft does that's unnecessary too, and it bugs me no end. The launch of Windows 10 was marred by constant references to its web-first, cloud-first strategy, and how it could run on every different type of device under the sun, from your toaster to your phone. That's all great, but I'd be a lot happier if Microsoft just focussed on the amazing things Windows 10 will help me actually do.

Again, it's great that Microsoft knows where the industry is going, and is committed to being ahead of the curve, but is a "cloud first strategy" at the top of your shopping list when you're looking to buy your next PC or next version of Windows? When I hear talk of how people are consuming content through multiple streams over multiple devices using cloud-first, web-first strategies, I don't feel inspired to make a purchase, I feel like taking a nap.

The age of investor speak

Too many tech companies are doing too much of this kind of talk at the moment. Can't we all just forget this marketing-speak and get back to talking about doing things with our tech? I think a media focused too much on video bloggers, Instagram posters and social networks has made the tech industry lose its focus on the end user. And that's dangerous. By appealing to the digital elite, who make up 5% of the market, we alienate the 95% of us who don't want to tweet their breakfast, be the Mayor of the local Starbucks, or get 100k likes for a photo of their cat.

Even Apple, once master of the art of selling, has lost its way recently. Is the new Apple Watch more of a fashion item than something practical? Of course, it looks gorgeous, and if somebody gave me one I wouldn't refuse it, but what will it add to my life? In contrast, the iPod had a simple message - "a thousand songs in your pocket".

When PCs and later tablets first appeared, the emphasis was on what they could do, not necessarily how they did it. I liked that, because I could understand it. I could connect with it. Now it seems to be all about how many different ways there are to do something, not the thing itself, and it's leaving me cold.

Before all the cool new social media sharing features get added into Windows 10, how about we just remember that all we really want for Christmas is our Start menu back.

  • Graham Barlow is the Editor-in-Chief for Windows Help & Advice, your essential guide to Windows PCs with advice, reviews and features packed with social commentary. They can post issues direct to your door or fire them digitally through the air straight into your device - they're that good! Why not subscribe today?
Graham Barlow
Senior Editor, AI

Graham is the Senior Editor for AI at TechRadar. With over 25 years of experience in both online and print journalism, Graham has worked for various market-leading tech brands including Computeractive, PC Pro, iMore, MacFormat, Mac|Life, Maximum PC, and more. He specializes in reporting on everything to do with AI and has appeared on BBC TV shows like BBC One Breakfast and on Radio 4 commenting on the latest trends in tech. Graham has an honors degree in Computer Science and spends his spare time podcasting and blogging.