Earlier this week, Richard Doherty, an analyst at tech research firm Envisioneering, compared Windows 8 to The Coca-Cola Company's failed attempt to alter its base flagship product with a new, sweeter formula called New Coke back in April 1985. The consumer reaction was so negative that the company reintroduced the old formula as a separate Coca-Cola Classic product less than three months later. Windows 8, it seems, may be suffering a similar fate.
"This is like New Coke, going on for seven months – only Coke listened better," he said.
Now Frank X. Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Corporate Communications at Microsoft, is striking back at all the Windows 8 critics who have taken to the recent New Coke comparison. He said we live in a world where everyone is a publisher, and those who want to stand out opt for sensationalism and hyperbole over nuanced analysis. Page views are currency and heat is often more valuable than light.
"In the center, selling 100 million copies of a product is a good thing," he states. "In the center, listening to feedback and improving a product is a good thing. Heck, there was even a time when acknowledging that you were listening to feedback and acting on it was considered a good thing."
"Windows 8 is a good product, and it’s getting better every day," he continues. "Unlike a can of soda, a computer operating system offers different experiences to different customers to meet different needs, while still moving the entire industry toward an exciting future of touch, mobility, and seamless, cross-device experiences."
He goes on to talk about how Microsoft will improve Windows 8 as it does with all its products. There will be people who agree with what Microsoft does, and those who don't. "So perhaps this week’s lesson is look less to the edges and more to the center," he concludes. "There’s more light there."
The idea behind the New Coke comparison is understandable: if it's not broke, don't fix it. The Coca-Cola Company changed its formula to match the sweeter-tasting Pepsi-Cola. Microsoft has altered Windows to battle Apple and Google. In both cases, consumer feedback hasn't been entirely positive. But with Windows 8, the platform will evolve to meet consumer demand. It's part of a bigger picture that spans multiple devices. This feat cannot be easily accomplished in a matter of months.
Shaw is correct: Windows 8 is a great product. Sure, there are certain features like the Start button/menu that should be returned for the desktop user. The overall change may have been too much too quick. But that's irrelevant now. Unlike New Coke, Windows 8 is here to stay, and Microsoft is intent on making it the best multi-device platform yet. As Shaw's blog points out, Microsoft is indeed listening.