No doubt the recent changes from Microsoft in different areas (of computing) have been laudable. There have been welcome improvements on many fronts of software and services such as SkyDrive, Office 365, Microsoft Office, Windows and its components, operating systems and more. Did I mention the hardware accessories that come with Microsoft Windows? They too underwent changes for good – over years.
Still, the human tendency is to see faults with everything and so, here are some areas of improvements for Microsoft. I have compiled this list based on own experience with the different Microsoft products I use, viz. Windows, Office, SkyDrive mainly - and some are based on the feedback and doubts I receive from people in my mailing lists and/or on the Internet forums.
Does Microsoft Needs To Improve? What kind of question is that? Of course, it does! Every one or thing needs to improve. There is no such thing as “perfect”. Striving towards perfection makes you better and better but never perfect, that, in my opinion is just a mirage towards which, everyone works and in the process, gets better compared to others in the field and provides better services and products. You too can help Microsoft improve its products by joining its Customer Experience Improvement Program. This comes with most of the Microsoft software and you can opt to help them give you better products. Read MS Customer Experience Improvement Program.
Take the case of Windows 8. It is an improvement over previous versions of Windows that catered only to users of PC and notebooks and did not consider people using portable devices. But then, Windows 8 brings in those enhancements and compels others to change their products as well. This has been discussed much already not only on The Windows Club but also all over the Internet so we will not talk about it here. Though I must admit I thought I would have to grow my arms a little longer to be able to use the touchscreens in PCs but the new PC designs quelled my fears. Read Latest on Windows 8 and Windows 8 PCs.
Take the case of Ubuntu that some people think will serve as a replacement for Windows. Well, it won’t – not in its current form. It has to undergo many changes and incorporate much before it can even try of competing with Windows. Sorry Ubuntu fans, but this is the truth. Not that I am saying this out of my liking for Windows. I actually tried to use Ubuntu for few days but eventually, sent it off my machine. But you can use Ubuntu One feature (the cloud one) from within Windows 7. Read Ubuntu One For Windows.
There is always scope to improve in every area. For rest of the article, I will focus on the different software and services that I found or my readers found to be in need for urgent attention from Microsoft.
Where SkyDrive can Improve
Microsoft has already done a lot to improve SkyDrive. It introduced tile view, with preview of contents – not only that, you can right-click and perform tasks unlike other web pages where right-click gives you options to refresh and see the code of that particular page. You can now get short links to share your SkyDrive contents too. Read Enhancements To SkyDrive.
But there are few things it could think of changing:
Please do not show the entire path of the file or folder that I am sharing on SkyDrive with others. If you cannot understand my point – see, when you share any file on your SkyDrive, people with links to that file/folder can view the entire path from SkyDrive Root to that file/folder. The path appears in the Properties Pane to the right which is ON by default (And even if it is not ON, people can right-click and select Properties to view it).
Should not matter for many, but for people like me, who keep things synced between local storage and cloud, it does. I don’t want people to know that a particular file is created for a certain client of mine or is related to something that I NEVER want to share with anyone. Google Drive does not do it. It gives you only the link to the shared folder or file but never would show the entire path. I have been using both and for this reason, I prefer sharing things using Google Drive. Read SkyDrive versus Google Drive.
Why Do SkyDrive Links Expire? SkyDrive links expire after a certain period of time (I don’t know how long the period is, but they do expire). What happens in this case is that you cannot use those links to share things through your blogs/websites. After some time, people will send you email or leave comment saying the link on your website is broken.
I guess this relates to non-usage of that particular link. In other words, when a link is not used for a certain period of time, it is released or maybe referenced to something else as SkyDrive is on-demand storage. But the above is just what I think and I am yet to get any word on this from SkyDrive people on Twitter (Official Handle @SkyDrive). I do not know how Google Drive works as I have not embedded or used anything from that service on my website/blogs.
Microsoft Touch Based Office 2013: Area Of Improvement
I did not use this for long as I don’t have a touch based device yet. One of the subscribers to my newsletter said the touch interface in Office 2013 is not consistent across applications. This means same gestures across different applications trigger different actions. This report was confirmed by a review of Office 2013 touch navigation at ArsTechinca.
As I am running out of space here, I will summarize it: Some operations are available only via touch and some only via mouse. The above review also confirms it: You can use the “Peek” feature of Outlook 2013 only by hovering your mouse over Contacts, Tasks and other similar icons. Read New Features In Office 2013.
I guess this is because they have not yet developed the feature where you can simply point at icons from a distance – instead of touching them actually on the computer screen! This can wait until that kind of technology is developed. Not hard though. All you need is a computer screen emitting radio LED signals that when intercepted by finger, can send back input details (something of the Matrix kind used by security people)!
Windows 8 Operating System – Feedback
The On-Screen Keyboard has received many complaints across the Internet. Users say that it obstructs the screen view. For example, if you are working on an application and then invoke the on-screen keyboard, instead of creating its own space, it takes up the screen space being used by that application. If you know what I mean, it resembles something like someone has placed a keyboard on the document you are working – requiring you to scroll up and down to get a glimpse of what is behind the keyboard. Read Using Mouse In Windows 8.
This is a small issue and can be easily fixed by giving the keyboard its own window that automatically docks to the existing focused window, instead of overlaying on it. I tried to reproduce the issue in Windows 7. See the image below.
It will be nice if Microsoft can examine, evaluate and consider some of these, as some of the points raised are better addressed by competitors. I am not criticizing Microsoft here. I will repeat my argument that everything always has scope for improvement and so does the above.
If you think I missed something or if you would like to add your own experiences where you feel Microsoft could have done better, please add to the article by leaving a comment below.
UPDATE base on tweet from a Program Manager on SkyDrive:
@powercutin If you’re posting links to files directly, then yes, those do expire. Links to SkyDrive do not; direct download links do.
— Arcadiy Kantor (@arcadiy) October 16, 2012.