Microsoft has been taking a leaf out of the Apple design philosophy of recent, and has been focusing on simplifying the user experience. This sounds great, but it comes with a downside.
The balance between simplicity and freedom of control can be seen on a straight line continuum. The more streamlined the system becomes, the less control the user has over it. On the other hand, less streamlined systems give the user more options (in general).
Obviously there are benefits to both, but Microsoft’s Windows platform has always existed at a decent balance (for me at least, maybe it’s because I grew up with it).
Evidence of Microsoft’s shift in design philosophy started appearing around the Windows 10 release, where the company began herding all of it’s users onto the one platform. It started off by enticing users and developers nicely, offering the benefits of Direct X 12, which was only available on Win10.
Offering a free upgrade for previous systems, it seemed like a great idea for home users to get on board with.
This is starting to look a lot like the plot to Kingsman, free sim cards anyone?
Nothing is for free. (you are the product)
This combined with the fact they were about to stop support for Windows 7 even pushed security conscious users over into the new OS. (but not everyone, see the recent Wannacry panic for example)
After playing nice, Microsoft decided to strong arm it’s users on to Win10, bugging users with upgrade now popups within their systems, where clicking the equivalent of ‘no, fuck off’ actually triggered the upgrade process, whether or not you wanted to, going against basic interface design rules.
Microsoft’s response was basically ‘it’s for your own good’, mirroring Steve Job’s design philosophy.
Ignoring the privacy concerns, Windows 10 signaled the beginning of Microsoft’s transition towards a walled garden ecosystem. They have the most popular PC OS in the world, now all they have to do is ‘lock the gate’ with everyone inside.
Whether this retains users or drives them away is a whole other question.
The windows store is the first step. An inbuilt app store (more of a prototype) exists in Win10, with Microsoft controlling the gateway to devs.
Currently, no-one I know actually uses it.
Should Microsoft operating systems move further towards a closed ecosystem, users who dont want their hand held will have to migrate to Linux.
However, this also raises concerns about comparability. Most applications are designed windows systems, as this is the largest market. If users are backed into a corner by Microsoft, and there is some kind of exodus to the many splintered Linux platforms, it will be messy.
Its possible though, Android did something similar, when it’s open platform overtook the walled iOS system in popularity