Boot problems in Microsoft Windows 10 and the way forward.

Microsoft 10 took a step backwards in the right direction. It brings back the start menu button in the lower left hand side of the screen. This was removed by Steve Sinofsky and his team. From a project management approach this was a case of ignoring the input of one important component of any successful project; the users. The lesson from Windows 8 is that one simply cannot and should not dictate to users what they need; in a market that is more customer-centric users want to state the features, feel and functionality of the products they will ultimately use.



Well Mr Sinofsky is now part of Microsoft’s history. With Windows 10 we got back the start button. Tiles that appeared in Windows 8 live on but constitute an alternative to the product UI. Time will tell whether the tiles feature will survive into future incarnations of the product. The important thing is that anyone who upgrades from Windows 7 to Windows 10 will not feel lost and isolated.

One problem I've encountered with Windows 10 is safe mode. You don’t really need to go into safe mode unless there is a problem while Windows is loading. Many-a-times Windows start-up problems happen when a driver fails. Safe mode allowed a hardware engineer to load the machine with the minimalist set of drivers set at very basic settings. Once a machine would load the engineer would be able to analyse the problem that caused the failure and take the necessary corrective action so that the problem component that prevented Windows from loading properly would not misbehave again.

Windows 10 has 4 or 5 ways to boot into safe mode yet most of them require that Windows is already up and running. What happens if the problem takes place when Windows is powering up? In the past one could press the F8 or (Shift-F8) keys before Windows starts. A menu would come up and the engineer would be able to choose Safe mode. This no longer works in Windows 10 if you have a modern PC with a UEFI BIOS and SSD drives. This is because since Windows 8, in order to make Windows boot in the shortest possible time the code that checks for the F8 key press executes so quickly that no human being is fast enough to register it. If you use an old and ancient PC (hands up who does) the machine may be slow enough for your F8 key press to register with the Windows boot process.

At http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/05/22/designing-for-pcs-that-boot-faster-than-ever-before.aspx, Steve Sinofsky said 


“Windows 8 has a problem – it really can boot up too quickly 
So quickly, in fact, that there is no longer time for anything to interrupt boot. When you turn on a Windows 8 PC, there’s no longer long enough to detect keystrokes like F2 or F8, much less time to read a message such as “Press F2 for Setup.” For the first time in decades, you will no longer be able to interrupt boot and tell your PC to do anything different than what it was already expecting to do. 
Fast booting is something we definitely want to preserve. Certainly no one would imagine intentionally slowing down boot to allow these functions to work as they did in the past. In this blog I’ll walk through how we’re addressing this “problem” with new solutions that will keep your PC booting as quickly as possible, while still letting you do all the things you expect.”

The statement that “Certainly no one would imagine intentionally slowing down boot to allow these functions to work as they did in the past” Is short sighted in that:

  • Systems will and do fail. Removing a feature such as this without implementing an easy to access alternative does not constitute a good design. 
  • Any project requires support features that may not be directly used by the customer but are necessary for support staff to be able to service the deliverables when the project goes live.

People who have certain graphics cards are having problems when they upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7. The upgrade goes well but upon loading the first time an error comes up stating that the driver crashed and the machine goes into an immediate boot (what was the blue screen of death in order versions of Windows). From that moment onwards attempts to boot into Windows 10 fail because after the initial Microsoft Logo the screen goes blank.

The success of a global product such as Windows is an example of a project that would benefit so much from an AGILE/SCRUM approach. In this particular case the client is not 1 single entity but (potentially) millions of users from all over the globe. Challenges to this project are to encourage “normal” users rather than having only techies provide feedback. Another important concern is that during the evaluation stage testers should be encouraged to really use the operating system for their day to day activities and not treat is as a play/test thing. A third pillar to success requires that Microsoft would have to have systems and people in place to encourage input, generate statistical information on what are the problems, prioritize the issues, agree on what will get included in scrum sprints and, after the sprint, update the test systems with the changes giving points to those who made the suggestions.

With Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and other online goodies, Microsoft might be able to achieve this. Testers could be given free cloud storage and office functionality. Users who would be using test systems need to be assured that their data is protected and accessible if the test systems are down. Prizes would need to be defined as would the scoring system and clean-up mechanisms to remove accounts that are abandoned or which have never been used.

After the product is released anyone who would have achieved above a minimal score would be declare a Windows Winner and would be entitled to a token of appreciation. Marking folk would need to figure what it will be.



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