Archive for Change

The Windows 10 Creators Update is Meh.

The Windows 10 Creators Update just rolled out to customers and, frankly, it’s kind of boring. That’s probably not fair. I’m guessing there are plenty of people excited by these changes and there are likely many new features lurking under the covers. Still, for the average customer there’s not much to excite.

For example, there are a set of new 3D image creation features. A new app called 3D Paint allows a customer to create 3D images easily. “Easily” is pretty subjective; I found it just as hard as most other 3D image creation tools to create something meaningful. Microsoft has also created an online community of people, called Remix 3D, who want to share these images. This is clearly a stab at Apple and Adobe. Both of these companies have worked hard to bring animation and other creative tools to the masses. Still, this is not something that the average consumer will care about. Most will play around with it but it won’t have much impact on their computing experience.

The same is true for the Linux subsystem and BASH upgrades. As an aside, it’s never BASH Shell. BASH is an acronym for “Bourne-again shell” shell. BASH Shell, like NIC Card, is redundant. But I digress… The BASH upgrades are extensive and bring new, under-the-covers support for programming languages such node.js, python, and a host of less common ones such as Rust. The upgraded shell also brings an upgrade to Ubuntu 16.04. That’s not the latest Ubuntu distribution (Ubuntu 17.04 is the most up-to-date) but is quite common. There are other improvements across the board including better Linux – Window integration. All of this is lovely but only if you are a programmer or other form of computer professional. For the average individual who just wants to access the Internet, this won’t matter a bit. For most people, the BASH capability will never even be enabled. It takes a somewhat complicated process to activate the Linux subsystem on Windows 10 and most customers won’t even know it exists.

Speaking of the Internet, Windows 10 Creators Edition does come with a lot of upgrades to the Microsoft Edge browser. Edge is not yet ready to be the browser of choice for power users (read about that in my previous blog Microsoft Edge is Nearly Good). It is, however, fast and has improved enough that the average individual may consider it for everyday use. This is especially the case if they are currently using the ancient Internet Explorer. That piece of… software should have been buried long ago with the other dinosaurs of the early Internet era.

Everything else is small or plain ridiculous. Microsoft has added display changes that are supposed to excite us but (let’s be honest) don’t. Dark mode and Nightlight are just two examples of new feature that scream “seriously, who cares?” Dark mode changes the theme from a light one to a dark one. What this means is that the normally white background turns black and the normally colored text goes white. It’s supposed to be good for low light situations but how often is this a problem. Even more strange is the Nightlight mode. It reduces the blue light in the display for people who sleep with their computers. Yeah… That sounds like something in the movie “Her” that was edited out because it sounded too creepy. This has been in Linux desktops for some time where it is equally useless.

There have been some updates to Cortana that are interesting if not earth shattering. You can now write a sticky note with instructions for reminders for Cortana. That means it is now possible to write a note that reminds you to pick up something at the store and then have Cortana yell it at you. The basic purpose of a personal computer was to get away from having people shout reminders at us but it is suddenly better when it’s the computer doing the shouting.. Cortana can also spew more notifications into the Action Center. That’s probably something…

Microsoft has also added broadcast gaming features to Windows such as integration with Beam. Beam is a livestreaming platform for gamers who need to brag online. It’s been renamed Mixer because Beam is obviously not nearly as cool a name as Mixer. Yep. That’s it.

At its core Windows 10 Creators Update is a bunch of tweaks and small features for specific constituents. It is for developers, artists, and gamers but not the masses. The Edge updates are about the most useful to the vast majority of customers but those could have been rolled out on their own. This is a nice update but few will be truly excited by it. Considering the last major update was the Anniversary Update a year ago, everyone was expecting more.

This is why people hate Microsoft.

Microsoft has announced that it has a new task management app called To-Do. It is in many ways just like Microsoft’s other talk manager, Wunderlist. With a few small exceptions that aren’t really all that small. Besides the unimaginative name, To-Do also doesn’t (yet?) support subtasks or smart lists even though Wunderlist already does. Instead, you have to manually add tasks to the My Day list.

Despite being a native Microsoft product, the ecosystem is still a bit thin. One wouldn’t expect there to be Dropbox, IFTTT,  or Zapier integration just yet – though Wunderlist has these. It is not, however, too much to expect at least integration with Microsoft’s own Office 365 ecosystem. At present there is no OneDrive or Flow or similar connections to other Microsoft products.

To-Do does support integration with the Outlook task manager because… it really should. Unlike Wunderlist, it doesn’t place tasks on your Outlook calendar so you can see them on the Outlook mobile app. That’s kind of silly. The app also has a convenient import tool that will bring Wunderlist and Todoist tasks into To-Do. Wunderlist makes sense – it’s a Microsoft product after all – but why Todoist and only Todoist. While Todoist is a perfectly serviceable task list program, there are many others out their that work as well and have more market share. Google Tasks comes to mind.

So why bother with To-Do at all? Because Microsoft just announced they will demise Wunderlist that’s why. The great but similar product will go away in favor of the native Microsoft product with fewer features and more limited ecosystem. And this is why people sometimes hate Microsoft. They take a perfectly wonderful product, lobotomize it, and make that the standard product.

This makes no sense. Not one bit of sense. To-Do looks enough like Wunderlist that it’s safe to assume there some Wunderlist DNA in there. Why not just rebrand the great product that Microsoft spent good money on and keep adding features, especially features attractive to small businesses? Why indeed…

Over the past few years, Microsoft has regained the confidence of the market, both consumers and professionals. That have some outstanding product offerings (Office 365 and Azure being two of them) and have shown they can be as innovative as any SoMa startup.

And then they do stupid stuff like this.

My only hope is that they realize how this looks and make a concerted effort to add back the great features that made Wunderlist a wonder before that app’s end of life. Otherwise, the haters will have a reason to hate.