Windows and Office are handling COVID-19 very differently

There’s big gap between the response of the Windows and Office parts of Microsoft to the coronavirus troubles.  One team has understood the changed needs of customers and adapted; the other part of the same company is carrying on as normal and even taking advantage.

Most people think that Windows and Office come from the one company – Microsoft – with a combined strategy. Windows and Office teams works independently from each other.  Sometimes there are notable contradictions between the actions of two major parts of the same company.

The response of Microsoft to coronavirus is different across the company. Some divisions understand the needs of customers have changed while one team is focused on taking marketing and sales advantage of the tragedy.

Windows and Azure

The Windows and Azure parts of Microsoft pivoted quickly.  They understand that customers now want stability and certainty from their software and services.  With all the changes happening, we need to rely on Windows to run without extra surprises (intended or not).

Windows has suspended all non-security updates for the moment. Only security patches will be released as usual.

IMPORTANT We have been evaluating the public health situation, and we understand this is impacting our customers. In response to these challenges, we are prioritizing our focus on security updates. Starting in May 2020, we are pausing all optional non-security releases (C and D updates) for all the supported versions of Windows client and server products (Windows 10, version 1909 down to Windows Server 2008 SP2).

There is no change to the monthly security updates (B release – Update Tuesday); these will continue as planned to ensure business continuity and to keep our customers protected and productive.”

The May 2020 update to Windows 10 will still happen, but it’s already planned as optional.  These days major updates to Windows 10 aren’t pushed to computers until many months after first release.  Security updates continue for the recent major Windows 10 updates.

It’s a similar story with Azure.  Proposed changes to the many cloud services have been put on hold.

Office steams ahead

It’s a very different story with the Microsoft Office division.  From the start, Coronavirus has been used as a lever to push their Teams platform and make unsubtle digs at rivals like Zoom and Slack.

It’s all done under the guise of ‘helping’ customers but it’s the kind of self-serving help that Microsoft uses to sell their wares.

Teams is a good product and it’s getting better after the usual clumsy first releases.  However, it’s not always ‘fit for purpose’ as the Brits like to say.  It’s good for people with ongoing projects that involve a mix of sharing documents & files, texting and calling.

For ad-hoc online meetings or just sharing a few files there’s too much complication and setup necessary with Teams.  Better to use Zoom, Skype etc for calling and OneDrive or Dropbox for simple file sharing.

Still, Microsoft is pushing Teams as a solution to a wider range of needs than it’s suitable or even designed for.

Office 365 changes continue without a pause.  Unlike Windows or Azure, there’s still new features being pushed out as if there’s been no change in the real world.

Security updates are only available for the latest releases of Office 365 so customers have to cope with new and changed features plus the possibility of buggy updates.   Consumers are barred from the semi-annual Office 365 update track which organizations use to limit the feature changes to twice a year.

What a shame that Microsoft Office can’t take the same approach as their Windows counterparts and put their customers needs ahead of sales targets.

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