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June 2, 2020

Microsoft, Windows and Insider Teams: Love us or be quiet

What has puzzled me for some time already is how Windows Insider team‘s attitude seems to have changed more and more to “black or white” thinking. Apparently, all those who do not unconditionally love everything they do are haters, trolls. In the beginning, when Gabe Aul was the team lead, criticism was accepted and even encouraged. When Mr. Aul left the team and its current team lead took over, that came to an abrupt stop. Criticism is no longer tolerated, and no shades of gray exist between black and white, love and hate.

Checking Twitter yesterday, I saw an interesting tweet from last summer, I have no idea why it was shown in my feed now, 10 months later, especially since there seem to be no new tweets in that thread since September 2018 :

The post to which Rafael refers is Inspired by Insiders – Dark Theme in File Explorer, and was originally posted in August 2018. Here’s a quote from that post:

We’re excited to announce that Dark Theme support for File Explorer is ready for the next major release of Windows.

With Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 17733, Windows Insiders will be able to see the latest UI design for Dark Theme in File Explorer by going to Settings > Personalization > Colors and select the “Dark” option under the “Choose your app mode” section.

This latest design caps off months of work. With this article, we wanted to give you the inside scoop on how we got there — and how feedback from Insiders helped guide us along the way.

The post indicates that the File Explorer dark theme is ready. Since then, there have been no major changes to it. In June 2019, the dark theme in File Explorer is about the same as it was in August 2018.

In my opinion, Rafael hit the bullseye: if all Explorer dialogs still have a white background, as well as Control Panel, Network & Sharing Center and whatnot, the job is only half done. It is not what Insiders had requested. This was a personal opinion from a respected and well known Windows expert. In another tweet in same thread, he even made it quite clear that he was in no way undermining the efforts it had taken to get the dark theme to its current state:

I’m sure getting to this point was major undertaking, hat off to engineering. Just struggling with all the fanfare over a WIP that doesn’t really work in any File Explorer scenario (other than maybe staring at files on disk).

I rolled my eyes when I read this reply to Rafael’s tweet:

Matthijs Hoekstra is Senior Program Manager at Microsoft in the Azure Identity organisation.

At some level, I can understand Mr. Hoekstra’s reaction. Although not on the Insider team, he is a software engineer (a developer), who is “defending” the honour of his colleagues. But, to label someone as a hater because of valid, factual criticism goes too far. Unfortunately, it fits what I said earlier perfectly: if you do not unconditionally love and accept everything the Insider team does, you are a hater. There’s nothing in-between. Sigh.

This is an “old” case, but in my opinion it provides a good example of what I am, and have been talking about. I mean, how many businesses out there could survive, if any other customer feedback than pure positive praise would be completely ignored, taken as hate? Personally, I have given up. I am awaiting the next management change within the Windows Insider team. All I can do is to hope for a more positive outlook on the next go-round.



Author: Kari Finn

A former Windows Insider MVP, Kari started in computing in the mid 80’s writing code for VAX / VMS systems. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of IT positions. He specializes in Windows image capture, customization, repair and deployment as well as Hyper-V virtualization. Kari is a proud Team Member at number #1 Windows site TenForums.com.

One Response “Microsoft, Windows and Insider Teams: Love us or be quiet”

  1. Toni Fasth
    June 5, 2019 at 10:08

    Nobody ever said it is an easy task to change how color properties are handled, but Rafael is right and Microsoft representatives are clearly having the wrong attitude here.

    People never asked for a half-baked Explorer dark theme (although Explorer was the next important component in the list), but a system wide dark theme. Windows default background color is white or light gray and default font color is black. High contrast functionality works great for manipulating these colors and transparency works great too, so I see no reason why a working dark theme could not be easily applied system wide too.

    This is not the only half-baked feature in Windows that has been changed years ago but never really got completed.

    Best feedback is the most critical one. Microsoft should listen more closely to this feedback, take it seriously and care less about all the positive fluff feedback which doesn’t really help anyone.

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