Sunday, May 12, 2013

Scammed by Microsoft? It feels like it.

Please note: James' blog has moved to a Wordpress site. To access it, please visit All posts have been transferred to the new site, and all new posts will only be accessible via Wordpress. Thank you for your interest!

I want to borrow my blog briefly to talk a little more about Windows 8.  And the Surface tablet.  And Microsoft marketing.  And how I feel scammed.  And how HP & Microsoft failed to come to my aid.  Which is how this blog post came into being.

My anger and embarrassment about paying for this stupid laptop computer I am now working on (Hewlett Packard) and this OS (Windows 8) has had my mind scurrying for solutions which will resolve my mental negative funk.  Apologies to my mother, Katie Funk Wiebe, who was my original source of funk Funk.

I talked with Microsoft via a chat session; also with HP via a chat session.  Both were told that Windows 8 was not a pleasant experience for me and that I wanted a downgrade or (in the case of HP) a refund of my money for the computer.

HP played support games with me:  they told me they couldn't downgrade because of a license arrangement with Microsoft; ironically Microsoft had kicked the ball back to HP.  When you start to hear stuff like this, you realize that you are a helpless consumer pawn whose checking account has been sucked by the corporate forces.  There will be no satisfaction for me on this issue.  At least not yet, at least not now.

Microsoft's attitude was succinctly so:  your problem can only be resolved by HP.

HP's attitude was also succinctly so:  your problem is not resolvable because of contracts with Microsoft.  You'll screw up your computer (but you are welcome to purchase a copy of Windows 7 at your own expense at any computer store...)

I argued with HP on all of that.  Any company is capable of refunding money on their product; and can do so at any time.  They could refund money on the entire computer; or they could reimburse me for my retail purchase of a copy of Windows 7, which I refuse to do.  (Not another penny to Microsoft; they deserve punishment for their behavior.)  My feelings towards HP are nearly as strong.  Someone needed to stand up and say the New Coke had arrived and to reject it.  Change the business plan.  Change the corporate goals.  Change the message to consumers (EG:  Our computers may, uh, SUCK for a while while our OS vendor sorts things out, but at least our corporate policy of honesty remains intact...)

If you want to understand my frustration with Windows 8, you need to watch this 23 minute video.  It contains explanations of about just about everything I've experienced, and it is very funny, and it is very instructive.

Let's talk about the Windows 8 Surface tablet computer.  I've noticed the unending barrage of Surface ads from Microsoft...  they've helped MS sell a measly 900,000 tablets.  This number is a 'rounding error' in comparison to iPad sales.   Here's a Surface ad:


  • According to Paul Thurrott, Microsoft’s advertising campaign for Surface draws upon a considerable proportion of $1.5 billion total budget; he puts forward a figure of $400 million. The advertising blitz by Microsoft is expected to generate 1.6 billion impressions, upon the US population of about 300 million people, reports Softpedia. Peter Han, VP of Microsoft’s US OEM division said “I can tell you, it's going to be difficult to tune in to your typical popular TV show or sports program and not see a Windows commercial in the next few months.”

That means for every Surface that Microsoft has sold, they've spent $444 in marketing money.  Since the Surface sells for $600 and up, and wholesales from Microsoft for less than that (I'm guessing $500-ish), I think Microsoft is spending about 80% of the revenue of each Surface on marketing advertisements.

Every time I see that advert on the TV, it just adds to my anger and frustration:  just another slap in the face from the former software titan.  Any company that can afford to spend 80% of revenue on marketing ought to rethink what happens when things go wrong.  Time to pull the ad, I think.

And of course, I've noticed the announcement of Microsoft selling 100 million copies of the new OS.  It looks like about 60% of these are actually real.

Chew on this article:

Which is to say, a sale isn't an install, and given my experience, an install isn't a happy customer.

The flipped headline might read like this:

"41% of all Windows 8 purchasers refuse to install it".

Heck, an even more appropriate headline might be:

"25% of all Windows 8 purchasers actually tolerate or like it; 16% hate it; and the rest were smart enough to not install it."

Hopefully, there will be accountability at change at Microsoft.  Or maybe not.

In this article, Microsoft fans defend the sale of 100 million copies.  But don't any of them realize that the emperor has no clothes?  (or 60% of the clothes?, with all the critical parts of the clothes missing?)

Back at Microsoft, they are rethinking the product, and their management.  This article from the Financial Times thinks it through fairly well.  If you want to beat on Microsoft (and Steve Ballmer) for a while, read here:

In order to understand how I feel scammed by Microsoft, consider the definitions of SCAM, DEFRAUD and FRAUD.

Scam:  n.
A fraudulent business scheme; a swindle.
tr.v. scammedscam·mingscams
To defraud; swindle.

Defraud:  tr.v. de·fraud·edde·fraud·ingde·frauds

To take something from by fraud; swindle:

Fraud:  n.
1. A deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain.

(Thanks to

So that's why it feels like a scam to me.  It's unfair to sell an operating system for a laptop computer, when, in fact, that operating system reduces the productivity of the user of that computer.

A final analysis of Windows 8 from ZD-Net calls out how Windows 8 is on an even slower adoption path than the dismal failure known as Vista.  Worth a read:

Well, at least there's hope for Microsoft's marketing department.  They are able to take disaster and make entertaining videos.  Really.  Enjoy these new Asian marketing Windows 8 viral marketing videos.  Trust me, you don't have to understand a word of Chinese.  You'll get 'em, and you'll be rolling on the floor.

That's all for now.


Mike Bond said...

You could install Linux.

Mac McGuire said...

Hi James,
I'm with you on your Windows 8 comments. I bought a new ASUS laptop to work on your manuals, and quickly found that Windows 8 was a huge step backwards for Microsoft. What a piece of crap. To make matters worse, I even bought a copy of Windows 8 to "upgrade" one of my two desktop computers from Vista. The oldest I have has XP and I'm still happy with it, but I'll even take Vista over this new $%%#%^ OS from MS. To make matters worse, most of my software won't load and work on 8, and so I was forced to find new software. I tried to find a copy of Windows 7 to load, but no-one will trade "up" to my unused new copy Windows 8, and I can't find any Windows 7 copies for sale locally. As you know, I need to load, view, edit, and otherwise use many pictures, and 8 makes it impossible to do in any way that makes sense. I'm actually traveling back and forth from my shop to the house, and back again endlessly to use my older computers instead of the laptop. BTW, when I called Microsoft, I got a runaround as well. - Mac