Microsoft has a communications problem

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 21, 2015
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Companies, Microsoft

When Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would be freely available for a year, one focus of the discussion that ensued afterwards concentrated on the company's attempt to lure users with the free offer to introduce subscriptions later on.

The whole drama could have been avoided with a simple clarification but it took Microsoft months to get a statement out that clarified the issue. Up to this day, comments are being made that Windows 10 is not really free and that users will have to pay for the operating system after the first year.

The next big thing that blew up in Microsoft's face was a revised end user license agreement (EULA). In it, Microsoft reserved the right to block counterfeit games and disable unauthorized hardware.

The EULA went viral and many sites reported that Microsoft had added a killswitch to Windows 10 that allowed the company to block pirated games on systems running the operating system.

It is still widely debated if that is the case and whether Microsoft will make use of it. The company could put an end to this easily by issuing a simple statement that clarifies the issue.

The third PR nightmare is just around the corner. Microsoft released the third cumulative update for Windows 10 recently. Unlike before, it did not reveal what changed in it but used the ambiguous "This update includes improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10" instead.

windows cumulative update

The Register wanted to know more about it and received word from Microsoft that it won't post relevant KB articles for all updates that it delivers with Windows as a service.

It is a tough nut to swallow for privacy or security conscious users as well as business customers, especially when you consider that updates may break systems and Windows 10's incredible hunger for telemetry data.

The change will be reported widely and it is likely that at least some reports will criticize Microsoft heavily for it.

Better communication

Microsoft should have realized by now that everything it says, or not says, will be analyzed in detail. Some users will pick the most negative interpretation and run with it while others may be confused instead.

The effect of being tight-lipped is that negative comments spread even if they are not true. While Microsoft may not see this as overly dramatic or problematic, it does paint the company in a bad light.

While some criticism is certainly justified, part of it could have been avoided easily by the company.

Microsoft is not the only company that could do better PR-wise. Mozilla for instance falls into the trap occasionally as well.

Microsoft has a communications problem
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Microsoft has a communications problem
A look at recent communication-related issues and Microsoft's reaction, or lack of reaction.

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  1. The Dark Lady said on July 9, 2023 at 11:19 am

    Martin, I would appreciate that you do not censor this post, as it’s informative writing.

    Onur, there is a misleading statement “[…] GIFs are animated images …”. No, obviously you don’t seem to have take much notice of what you were told back in March regarding; Graphics Interchange Format (GIF).

    For example, (if you had read my replies within that thread, you might have learnt something useful). I even mentioned, “GIF intrinsically supports animated images (GIF89a)”.

    You linked to said article, [Related: …] within this article, but have somehow failed to take onboard what support you were given by several more knowledgeable people.

    If you used AI to help write this article, it has failed miserably.

  2. KeZa said on August 17, 2023 at 5:58 pm

    AI is stupid, and it will not get any better if we really know how this all works. Prove me wrong..

  3. Database failure said on August 18, 2023 at 5:21 pm

    Martin, [#comment-4569908] is only meant to be in: []. Whereas it appears duplicated in several recent random low-quality non relevant articles.

    Obviously it [#comment-4569908] was posted: 9 July 2023. Long before this thread even existed… your database is falling over. Those comments are supposed to have unique ID values. It shouldn’t be possible to duplicate the post ID, if the database had referential integrity.

  4. Howard Pearce said on August 25, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    Don’t tell me!

    Ghacks wants the state to step in for STATE-MANDATED associations to save jobs!!!

    Bring in the dictatorship!!!

    And screw Rreedom of Association – too radical for Ghacks maybe

  5. Howard Allan Pearce said on September 7, 2023 at 9:13 am

    GateKeeper ?

    That’s called “appointing” businesses to do the state’s dirty work!!!!!

    But the article says itself that those appointed were not happy – implying they had not choice!!!!!!

  6. owl said on September 7, 2023 at 9:50 am

    @The Dark Lady,
    @Database failure,
    @Howard Pearce,
    @Howard Allan Pearce,

    Note: I replaced the quoted URI scheme: https:// with “>>” and posted.

    The current is owned by “Softonic International S.A.” (sold by Martin in October 2019), and due to the fate of M&A, has changed in quality.
    Many Authors of bloggers and advertisers certified by Softonic have joined the site, and the site is full of articles aimed at advertising and clickbait.
    As it stands, except for articles by Martin Brinkmann, Mike Turcotte, and Ashwin, they are low quality, unhelpful, and even vicious. It is better not to read those articles.
    How to display only articles by a specific author:
    Added line to My filters in uBlock Origin:,.home-posts,.home-category-post:not(:has-text(/Martin Brinkmann|Mike Turcotte|Ashwin/))

    By the way, if you use an RSS reader, you can track exactly where your comments are (I’m an iPad user, so I use “Feedly Classic”, but for Windows I prefer the desktop app “RSS Guard”).
    RSS Guard: Feed reader which supports RSS/ATOM/JSON and many web-based feed services.

  7. Anonymous said on September 14, 2023 at 6:41 pm

    We all live in digital surveillance glass houses under scrutiny of evil people because of people like Musk. It’s only fair that he takes his turn.

  8. Anonymous said on September 18, 2023 at 1:31 pm

    “Operating systems will be required to let the user choose the browser, virtual assistant and search engine of their choice. Microsoft cannot force users to use Bing or Edge. Apple will have to open up its iOS operating system to allow third-party app stores, aka allow sideloading of apps. Google, on the other hand, will need to provide users with the ability to uninstall preloaded apps (bloatware) from Android devices. Online services will need to allow users to unsubscribe from their platform easily. Gatekeepers need to provide interoperability with third-parties that offer similar services.”

    Wonderful ! Let’s hope they’ll comply with that law more than they are doing with the GDPR.

  9. sean conner said on September 27, 2023 at 6:21 am

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