Microsoft argues Windows 8 failed due to culture of secrecy

Joe Belfiore, in charge of Windows at Microsoft, argues that Windows 8 never became popular because secrecy was the dominant cultural theme in Microsoft at the time the operating system was developed. Belfiore stated that in an interview with The Australian Financial Review.

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Microsoft developed Windows 8 together with its first Surface tablet. The company wanted to keep the new tablet a secret and that culture permeated to the development of the new operating system. “Secrecy was the dominant cultural theme in Microsoft in the Windows 8 timeframe”,  according to Belfiore.

Belfiore also argues it was the reason why Windows 8 was not well received after its launch and never became really popular. According to recent numbers, Windows 7 still has a market share of nearly 60%, while Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 together make up for about 15% of the operating system market. Even the outdated, unsupported, Windows XP is still on nearly 16% of all PCs.

Microsoft claims to have learned from its mistakes and has changed the way the OS is developed. Belfiore states the team has switched to a more open model. Users interested in Windows 10 have been able to join the Windows Insiders program to test Technical Preview builds of the operating system for months and provide feedback to Microsoft.

“It’s not the only data point we use, but it has become a real big one”, according to Belfiore about the Windows Insiders feedback. Microsoft announced at the end of April that within 2 to 3 years 1  billion devices should run on Windows 10.

When Windows 8 was released in October 2012, the operating was heavily criticized for introducing the Metro / Modern UI which should have made the OS ready for touch devices. Users never really embraced it and its accompanying ecosystem of apps although the operating system booted into the interface by default. Windows 8 also came without a start menu a decision Microsoft reverted in Windows 10 after many user complaints.

Windows 10 is expected to be officially released this summer.