back to article Twas the week before Xmas ... not a creature was stirring – except Microsoft admitting its Windows 10 upgrade pop-up went 'too far'

Microsoft's marketing boss Chris Capossela has confessed the infamous your-Windows-10-upgrade-is-ready pop-up that tricked so many people into installing the thing was a step "too far." Speaking on this week's Windows Weekly podcast on Twit.tv, Capossela was asked to list his low points of the year for Redmond (it's 17 minutes …

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  1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    A half-hearted non-apology from someone with no power to affect how Microsoft behaves in the future.

    I won't even begin to trust Microsoft until Endpoint Antichrist has been fired with extreme prejudice and someone who isn't customer hostile is elevated to his position. Even then, Microsoft has a long - long - road to travel before trust can be rebuilt.

    And in IT - especially as regards public cloud computing - trust is everything.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      I haven't trusted MS in 20 years and never will.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Same here. To pretend they think they went too far is laughable. They knew what they were doing and will do the same in an instant again.

        Watching Windows 10 trainwreck now they can't rely on free upgrade spin is great fun...

        Just like Xbox one failure, when people don't buy Microsoft suddenly shut up about sales figures...

    2. Mage Silver badge
      Mushroom

      for a lot of the year I think we got it right,

      Well, that's a delusion.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It was an informal chat, well, as informal as you can be at Microsoft.

      It's a difficult one this. Is it better to hear a 'sanitised reply' from the horse's mouth, or just write it up how it is and be ignored, Apple style.

      If you have watched Paul Thurrott in full 'flippin' rant mode regarding the Windows 10 Nagware, you'll know how polite he was been here with Chris Capossela. He was holding himself back massively, to a point of almost licking his boot laces.

      If we headline analyse every word coming out of CC's mouth, he's not going to be doing Windows Weekly anytime soon again. And that's the trouble, for all his faults, (I'm not a fan, of anything Microsoft Marketing, it's been a mess for years) CC does come across as having his feet on the ground somewhat and more aware than most at Microsoft to the actual Customer backlash, that took place, is taking place.

      He's trying his best to balance the point, knowing MS lawyers are watching his every word. Just compare what he says and how he says it, to Satya Nadella, scripted and airy, that connects with no one.

      I have one very close friend high up at Microsoft (Europe) and a family member high up at MS Seattle that worked there for 5+ years and I have learnt more about the internals of MS from Capossela (from snippets of interviews) than I have from those people close to me.

      For all its faults, the Windows Weekly interview was a good one.

      If I had to pin a character to CC, it would be the Good Cop/Bad Cop from the Lego Movie (it would have been a better caption picture too).

      Everyone at MS seems conditioned from day one to say absolutely nothing. The impression you get though overall is the money is good, the internal ranglings is the real shit (downer) part of the job, from just knowing those people close to me, really well. There are real arrogant, nasty, competitive folk there who aren't knowledgeable, but cause chaos all around them, giving instructions to code stuff like this (the sly Red 'X' close option). Time zones between Managers don't help either.

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: It was an informal chat, well, as informal as you can be at Microsoft.

        Well, if they actually admitted anything, we wouldn't need to read the entrails so much on these interviews. So, entirely their own fault.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aand

    No shit sherlock, too late.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: It's called OS X

        Really? People at corporate level are opting for a branded proprietary *nix that will not run on their existing kit but will require a captital outlay I conservatively estimate at about three times what they paid before? Not counting the rip-out'n'replace costs? In this economy?

        Are you sure that alternative isn't pronounced "Red Hat"?

        Because that would be an unnecessarily high cost (but waaaay lower than OS X running on iThing) software swap only option. Corporate would love the "someone at the end of a phone in an emergency" factor and the techs wouldn't have to move, store and dispose of umptytump bits of kit that would suddenly be usless under the iScheme.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

            Re: It's called OS X

            I'll have an ounce of whatever it is you've been smoking.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: It's called OS X

              I'll have an ounce of whatever it is you've been smoking.

              Are you sure? It seems pretty potent. A much much smaller dose might be better for a first-time (ab)user.

          2. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

            Re: It's called OS X

            Some businesses have already tried apple in the past and where it falls down is with backwards compatibility.

            A while back when a new version of the OS was released it broke some software that was very popular. (cant remember what it was or what version of mac os it was) apples official response was "upgrade the software to something else that works"

            so for a business, that means more capital investment in the software, more expense in training users to use the new software and half the company using incompatible files with each other...

            This is why windows will always dominate any serious office environment. its all down to the TCO and good support. And lets face it, any business who has the updates enabled need to sack the IT staff. Updates are only installed when said update has been tested with the companies core software.

            1. nijam

              Re: It's called OS X

              > where it falls down is with backwards compatibility

              So, just like like MSWindows, then.

          3. Rattus Rattus

            Re: "It delivers value for money"

            And it's called OSX. HAHAHahahahaha... Oh my god, I can't breathe.

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: From the listening systems we have...

      Well, if the only reason M$ knew you had gone too far in completely undermining the accepted (and inviolate) rule that the 'x' means 'close this window and don't do anything else' then they need to do a lot of soul searching (as in looking for one).

      Until they find their soul, they can't possibly improve it.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Self Defenestration?

    Someone admitting that MS may have made a mistake? Not a career enhancing move.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Self Defenestration?

      Maybe a full on career enhancing move really... MS has taken heat about this. Send Jr. PR dude out, if he weathers the storm, he might be useful, and keep him around.

      Every company needs their "bad news" channel...

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Self Defenestration?

      I always thought that companies should hire a "corporate scapegoat" who's paid well to admit mistakes, take the blame for bad products and decisions and generally take shit from everyone. Maybe MS has one... this one?

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Self Defenestration?

        Well, Daniel Pennac wrote some books about a professional scapegoat...

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: Self Defenestration? -Well, Daniel Pennac wrote some books about a professional scapegoat

          Upvoted. Recommended reading if you know French and have a somewhat perverse sense of humour.

        2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: Self Defenestration?

          Definition "Consultant - someone bought into a project at the last minute to take the blame" - from my sigmonster files.

      2. david 12 Bronze badge

        Re: Self Defenestration?

        Part of my job when working as a contractor. In-house staff would quit failing projects like rats deserting a sinking ship, and we would be brought in to take over the project -- which would then be labled as another project mismanged by outside contractors.

        We didn't mind. It paid the bills.

      3. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Self Defenestration?

        "companies should hire a "corporate scapegoat" who's paid well to admit mistakes, take the blame..."

        Oh, Ostap Bender was fully aware of that, and he did indeed do just that for his "company"...

        1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

          Re: Ostap Bender

          That fall guy was called Sitz-Chairman Funt.

          https://en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Little_Golden_Calf

  4. MNGrrrl
    Thumb Down

    M$ Long History

    Microsoft has been getting it wrong with user interfaces since basically Windows 1.0. It copies other people's good ideas well. It doesn't do so well trying to "innovate" on its own, and Windows 10 is just another example of how their attempt to "freshen up" the brand led to catastrophic failure.

    But why do they keep doing this to themselves? It's like they're punching themselves in the face while furiously stomping their own dick over and over again, year after year. Well, it starts to make some sense when you consider their corporate culture. Contrast with other tech companies, like Apple, which until recently was basically held captive by a tyrant in a black turtle neck sweater. Say what you will -- he was a cruel man that few who worked for him had praise for. But all of Apple was built around this one dude and getting things done wasn't a problem. Cohesiveness wasn't a problem. Every single thing Apple did was more or less the product of this one man's personal approval, and as a result, you got a product that looked like it was designed by a human being.

    Microsoft... has never been like that. Microsoft is about the committee. The user interaction surveys. The borg collective. And that's what their software looks like too: A mishmash of parts stitched together, horrifying to look at and seemingly built with murderous intent. We even very nearly averted disaster with a wholesale revolt of *every* windows XP programer when Bill's wife tried to make wizards part of everything in the OS. And you can thank those brave, brave men, who were threatened with being fired and more, for holding their ground and giving us the first truly usable Windows release. But for every success story like that, there's 10 "Let's make the Operating System a service!" bonehead maneuvers.

    Microsoft is a case study in how corporate culture can be more important than even brand identity and how deeply pervasive the impact of how we organize a large project can affect the final result. It's a shining lighthouse... warning ships away.

    1. Cirdan
      Happy

      Re: M$ Long History

      @MNGrrrl --

      for a split second, I read that as Microsoft being a Lining Shitehouse.

      What a glorious second that was!

      ...Cirdan...

    2. Ozzard

      Re: M$ Long History

      Sorry? Microsoft is about the committee? News to me - I thought it was about knifing the other guy in the back before he (almost invariably "he") knifes you. Open warfare between divisions. That kind of thing.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: M$ Long History

        "Open warfare between divisions."

        Yes, but to halt the open warfare requires negotiated peace treaties, hence the "committee".

      2. oldcoder

        Re: M$ Long History

        different committees...

    3. david 12 Bronze badge

      Re: M$ Long History

      The Windows 95 user interface was widely recognized as superior to anything else available. And it was extremely successful with end-users, vindicating both the extensive (and unprecedented) pre-release user testing, and the professional opinion of the independent UI experts who reviewed it after release.

      You may not like MS, but for a professional, ignorance of history is no excuse.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: M$ Long History

        The GUI of '95 was good. The rest of it was garbage compared to their own NT3.5 and less stable than a properly installed WFWG3.11

        For over 20 years I've heard that the HW spec was too high for NT vs 95, maybe in 1993 it was, but not in 1995. In reality win95 needed as much RAM as NT to have Excel, Word, TCP/IP and Browser at the same time without paging massively.

        1. JC_

          Re: M$ Long History

          The GUI of '95 was good. The rest of it was garbage compared to their own NT3.5 and less stable than a properly installed WFWG3.11

          Adding a new GUI, plug & play, an actual 32-bit API and pre-emptive multi-tasking while still maintaining backwards compatibility with all the 16-bit applications and the crappy hardware they ran on was a minor coding miracle. Check out some of Raymond Chen's columns for a bit of insight into what it took.

          Of course Win95 was 'garbage' compared to NT - NT was a clean-sheet design that didn't have to deal with the compromises of 15 years of DOS. Windows 95 did and was still massively successful because of that work done to keep backwards-compatibility.

          What was a "properly installed WFWG3.11"? One that didn't crash because it didn't run anything but Minesweeper?

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: M$ Long History

        "The Windows 95 user interface was widely recognized as superior to anything else available."

        I agree. It was certainly based on a lot of ideas and features that had been around for a long time. Those included CUA and HP's New Wave (the copyright declarations included HP). However, they put it all together in a slicker interface than I'd seen elsewhere. In recent years they then seem to have brought in UX designers who've concentrated on throwing away as much of that as they could.

      3. Chika

        Re: Re: M$ Long History

        The Windows 95 user interface was widely recognized as superior to anything else available.

        Not so sure about that, really. At the time it was released it was certainly a step up from its predecessor, Windows 3.11 for Workgroups, but it had some problems and more than one competitor. The competition had their own problems but there were a number of benefits in these that were eventually "adopted" by Microsoft in later versions of the interface. Certainly it had its benefits though and on hindsight we may give it its due but even by Windows 7, the last version to even pretend to have the same interface, had its flaws and various other GUIs had benefits over it.

        The point is that while so many GUIs have surfaced, none of them have got it completely right.

        As far as this story goes, though, it's a typical bit of tat from Microsoft, admitting it was wrong long after the deed has been done and the damage has been sustained. It wants to be trusted and adored and is willing to sacrifice somebody to do it. They did the same with Windows Me and Windows Vista, you may recall. What they NEVER do is apologise and stop at the time, in this case because they were all too blinded by the dollar signs in their eyes.

        1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: M$ Long History

          It's easy to criticize Microsoft but I think they did magic getting Windows to run at all on the friggin' huge variety of hardware and different manufacturers drivers out in the PC wild world. "Standards?" - the people manufacturing the PC hardware had heard of them but they expanded and modified them at every opportunity to show that their piece of kit was better than the competition's junk that did exactly the same thing.

          Sure - it's a big company and some parts are driven by the marketing monkeys - but let's give a big Christmas Cheer to the unsung coders who, having just finished writing and testing a hunk of OS code, are handed another new ISA card by Mr Marketing Monkey with the comment that, "This doesn't work" - only to discover that the new card uses another drivers interrupts and addresses.

          1. oldcoder

            Re: M$ Long History

            That would be the Microsoft legal department...

            locking the vendors into only allowing information for Windows...

          2. Alumoi

            Re: M$ Long History

            "Standards?" - Microsoft had heard of them but they expanded and modified them at every opportunity to show that their piece of software was better than the competition's junk that did exactly the same thing.

            There, fixed it for you.

          3. P. Lee Silver badge
            Linux

            Re: M$ Long History

            >It's easy to criticize Microsoft but I think they did magic getting Windows to run at all on the friggin' huge variety of hardware and different manufacturers drivers out in the PC wild world.

            Unlike the BSD chaps and the Linux guys... I mean, you could never do it without charging money, right?

            1. Mikey

              Re: M$ Long History

              "Unlike the BSD chaps and the Linux guys... I mean, you could never do it without charging money, right?"

              Well, if you want to get a working product out the door which doesn't require its users to bugger about compiling their own drivers and the like at the time, and ensuring their system has all the dependencies needed to get things working to a reliable and acceptable level, then you DO need to pay a proper dev team to spend their time and effort in ensuring it can be done to a shorter timescale, with less hassle and greater compatibility out of the box. Just because BSD/Linux is great at that now, doesn't mean it always has been, as we all know too well.

              Plus, Windows has always been a commercial product, Linux itself has never been. Only the pretty coloured layers that each distro company puts on top have been anything near commercial. And even then, the money was in the support, so ensuring things work properly is kinda at odds with that approach, weirdly.

              Pay to have it work well enough from the get go, or pay to have someone explain how to fix it when it doesn't work. Fixing things quickly and easily never comes cheap, be it time, money or both.

              1. Chemist

                Re: M$ Long History

                " which doesn't require its users to bugger about compiling their own drivers and the like at the time"

                That'd be Linux then ! Seriously how many users have compiled anything to get a fully-functioning system ?

                1. Hans 1 Silver badge
                  Joke

                  Re: M$ Long History

                  >That'd be Linux then ! Seriously how many users have compiled anything to get a fully-functioning system ?

                  Lets ask a Gentoo user!

                  1. Chemist
                    Joke

                    Re: M$ Long History

                    "Lets ask a Gentoo user!"

                    Yes, let's ask him/her !

                    To whom it may concern. I've used Linux since ~ the beginning. I use it all the time & nothing else since ~2006. I compile lots of stuff but the last time I compiled a kernel was ~~1997 and even that was a matter of ticking boxes and pressing the 'go' button.

                2. Craig100

                  Re: M$ Long History

                  " which doesn't require its users to bugger about compiling their own drivers and the like at the time"

                  I've been using Linux (Ubuntu then Mint) to run my business as my only OS since I lost it with Vista (2009). Never had to compile anything. Might have had to edit the odd config file for the odd esoteric issue (like running CrashPlan Pro headless on a Synology DiskStation) but other than that, all plain sailing. When Win 10 was announced I was nearly tempted to return. I saw it as a fixed Win8, but they shot themselves in the foot with all the privacy and update nonsense. Happy with Mint, as are a few friends that lost it with Win10 when updates screwed them up :)

            2. paulll Bronze badge

              Re: M$ Long History

              How long have you been using Linux? 'Cos when Windows 95 came out, it was a nightmare to get an entire system working with linux at all, let alone automagically. Soundcard? Bare support. Graphics? Sure, but good luck getting anything more than 640*480*16 out of it. DUN...yup, but you're gonna need to shell out another 100 notes for an external modem-and hope your MoBo's serial port is adequately supported. Not a big MS fan; But yes, what they did with HW support in Win95 *was* impressive.

          4. Hans 1 Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: M$ Long History

            @Version 1.0

            >I think they did magic getting Windows to run at all on the friggin' huge variety of hardware and different manufacturers drivers out in the PC wild world

            I beg your pardon ? Seriously, I beg your pardon ?

            Linux runs more efficiently, on a larger variety of hardware, with most (something like 95%) drivers contributed by enthusiasts, with hardware manufacturers trying to torpedo these same drivers since day one ... this has changed somewhat in the last, what, 5 years, with manufacturers developing their own set of drivers for Linux, but still ... Get a clue or change profession ... I heard they were looking for window cleaners in Hull!

          5. Jonathan Richards 1
            Thumb Up

            Re: M$ Long History

            Version 1.0 proposed a toast:

            > a big Christmas Cheer to the unsung coders

            If I remember correctly, most device drivers were written by the device manufacturers, not by Microsoft. Before the internet was a useful channel for software distribution, one got a floppy disk [1] (maybe even a Compact Disc <gasp>!) with drivers thereon, bundled with the hardware device. The ISA card manufacturer (per your example) would have been on the hook for supplying and debugging device drivers, not Microsoft.

            I subscribe to the sentiment re the unsung coders, though!

            [1] Exhibit A: ftp://ftp.msan.hr/drivers/LAN/3COM/3C509B-tpo/README.TXT

      4. PhilipN Silver badge

        Re: M$ Long History

        OMG so much Stalinesque re-writing of history here.

        Suggest those interested find Eric Raymond's comment about Win95 being "shockingly inferior" to another OS and take it from there

      5. oldcoder

        Re: M$ Long History

        No, Windows 95 was not superior to anything else.

        Anything else available from Microsoft maybe... But that doesn't say much for Windows 95.

        The same capability had been available for UNIX systems for quite some time. And had mostly left it as the menu system is a rather stilted interface.

        And it still is. Good for only what someone else has decided is good for you... but not all that flexible.

        1. JC_

          Re: M$ Long History

          Anything else available from Microsoft maybe... But that doesn't say much for Windows 95.

          The same capability had been available for UNIX systems for quite some time. And had mostly left it as the menu system is a rather stilted interface.

          The 'Start' menu is literally a Microsoft invention, right down to the (lamentable and inevitable) patents, so I don't see how UNIX had had it for quite some time.

          If you mean menus in general, what has replaced them since for mouse & cursor? Microsoft's own 'Ribbon'?

          If you meant that a shell is better than the GUI, that's indefensible for the vast majority of users, but the command line was in Windows 95, too, of course.

          Really, what you say makes no sense at all unless you take the attitude that everything from Microsoft is either crap or already invented. They've come out with plenty of crap & thievery without making some more up.

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