I noticed that with version 10, Windows had started referring to itself as “we,” as in “Hi. We’ve updated your PC.”

This presumably is meant to condition us to think of our computers not as ours, but as the front end to a cloud where a team is working tirelessly to fix problems and craft the best possible user experience for us. A place where we don’t own our copy of the OS; we rent access to it.

Windows should just refer to itself as “Windows.” “Windows needs to reboot.” “Windows needs to display endless pop-up messages informing you that your copy of Office is not the newest version.”*

Anthropluralizing the interface feels a little creepy–Windows by its nature needs to see everything I do on my computer, but it feels strange when some ambiguous “we” is watching me. Best to stay out of the uncanny valley in any case. Maybe more importantly I enjoy the fiction that my computer is mine and does what I tell it to do, not what the OS maker tells it to do.

*Yes, I’m aware that this pop-up is from an Office Update app (now uninstalled) and not from Windows. However, “we” installed the app without asking “me,” further eroding the fiction that I’m in charge of my own machine.


7 thoughts on “We

  1. Ellen

    I still have not “updated” to 10. Should I? Why, or why not? Will Windows do it anyway sometime when I’m not watching?

  2. robertmulcahy Post author

    I’d say if you are on XP or Windows 8, you should upgrade to 10. If you are on 7, I wouldn’t bother. For 7, there isn’t enough upside to justify the time to do the install and get used to things that are a little different.

    1. Ellen

      I’m on 8.1. You tend to give good advice. The next time “Zillions of people have already upgraded for free…” — I’ll think about it instead of reflexively closing the box. What I don’t understand is why 7 wouldn’t be worth an upgrade…?

      1. robertmulcahy Post author

        For me, Win10 was an improvement over Win8 because it made the UI more like Win7, which was a better UI for desktops and laptops–anything where you are using a mouse and keyboard instead of a touchscreen. Thus, if you’re already on Win7, no need to upgrade just for upgrade’s sake. I use 7 at work and never find myself missing any of the features of 10 on my home machine.

      2. Ellen

        Well, last night I let the computer stay up by itself and upgrade to MS 10. Today it seems that all is well, though I’m glad that I started the day a bit earlier than usual, because there seemed to be a lot of other things it had to do, including sitting with a pulsating blue screen and the words “All your files are exactly where you left them”–just that for a couple of minutes, no cursor, no anything. Eventually this segued to another message, then three more. I don’t have to sync the laptop with anything, since I have nothing to sync it to. All I’ve noticed so far is that the icons have moved a bit; there’s a thing at the bottom that is labeled “Ask me anything,” but when I asked “Where’s Excel?” (because I hadn’t been able to find it, it went off to the web and found all sorts of irrelevant junk; and Excel and the rest of Office was slightly hidden, but I found them. So far, so good. I hope there aren’t any snake pits lurking for me to find later.

  3. robertmulcahy Post author

    Yes; Microsoft’s decision to forgo any kind of progress bar (presumably in favor of pulsating color) is maddening because it feels like the machine has hung. My wife was so frustrated when I first was running Win8 and the newest version of Office that she wanted to use my old Linux-based netbook instead. We’ve since upgraded her to a Chromebook, and now she never touches a Windows machine.

    1. Ellen

      One slightly unsettling change noted: When I went to print something today, the default was something called, I think, “eprint.” No, I want to use my printer. The change was easy, but I’m not sure the default has changed.


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