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Microsoft, stop ASS U ME ing……


…that casual users will take to Windows 8, like kids take to cookies and candy. It’s not going to happen by itself!

I recently read an article quoting someone from Microsoft who worked on the Windows 8 UX. He explained that the Win 8 Start Screen was made for casual users, which represents the vast majority of Windows users around the globe. The desktop will remain, and be improved, to satisfy the needs of more experienced, or so called Power Users, to run complex (and not so complex) programs. Casual users are primarily information consumers, with a focus on; email, Facebook, browsing, watching videos and playing games. Power users are both consumers and creators. Ok, we got it.

You don’t have to look very hard to find another expert dissing Windows 8. Microsoft certainly has their hands full. They have a legion of associates working to encourage business customers to adopt Windows 8, instead of the older, and less functional Windows 7. But what about the casual user. You know, the other 75% of Windows users. Maybe a billion, to use a round number. Is a slick 30 second ad that shows the unconventional Win 8 Start Screen and talks about the new Windows enough to quell all the negative press and user comments? I don’t think so.

Like it or not, Microsoft needs to educate consumers, before and after the sale. Before, to convince them to make the purchase. And after, to make sure they don’t regret their decision. And because the Start Screen was built for casual users, that’s where all the focus needs to be directed. Or more specifically, the focus needs to be on Apps. As a part of my job function, I come in contact with a couple laptops/notebooks, mostly Windows 8 machines, every week. The vast majority are casual users. Even though most have touch screens, they generally don’t know where to find anything except the Desktop tile. They don’t use Modern Mail and Weather is still set to London or Paris. They couldn’t figure out how to print from a Modern app if their life depended on it. Simply showing users a few screenshots in a PC manual (which most people never open) or that silly swiping tutorial that starts up for new users doesn’t cut it.

If they say a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth millions. Here’s an idea Microsoft. Buy (or barter) a bunch of those 60” flat panels from Samsung and hang then up in every BestBuy, along with other electronics stores. Play a 5-8 minute video showing how to open and use Modern apps, with mouse or finger. You know, Video Professor style. Show users how to access a printer, share a file, and do some other cool stuff. At the end of the tutorial play a 2 minute commercial for Windows products and then repeat the tutorial. Over and over and over. From opening to closing. It will keep users in the PC department longer, and ultimately increase sales. Hell, I’ll even stick around to watch it (to critique it of course). Good for the retailer and Microsoft. Everybody makes more money. Don’t waste time planning this out Microsoft. Produce the video and get these up in stores within the next 60 days. Finish the rollout before the back to school season. Period. Maybe $5k per store x 10,000 stores. $50M = chump change. It will show a return on investment before the next shareholder’s meeting. Nothing to explain.

Step 2. Produce videos, similar to the one above, but customized for the type of machine; non-touch screen, touch w/kb, tablet. Embed the video as a tile, front and center on every new machine. For machines already on shelves. make the video download as part of the getting your PC ready startup. Keep reminding users to click on the video to get started. Be persistent. Encourage them to explore the built-in apps. Show them how to setup their mail, setup local weather, find contacts and link to Facebook. Show them Maps, News & Sports. Encourage them to visit the Store, that has “more” free Apps than paid. Remind them that it doesn’t cost anything to browse. Show them how to use the new IE, how to print and share. Show them how to make their PC their “personal” PC. Show them One Drive, and how they can access any file on their new PC. Show them how to get to the Desktop, but remind them that they never need to go there unless they choose to. This is what I call completing the sale.

I would venture that a number of Windows 8 users are bewildered by the new Start Screen, and possibly even regret their purchase. That’s sad, and doesn’t do much for that word of mouth marketing; the least expensive, and most valuable form of advertising available. In the infamous words of Sy Sims, an educated consumer is our best customer. Give casual consumers reasons to like, and want Windows 8, and those so called unbiased professional reporters won’t have anything to talk about.

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