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Windows, User Experience and (strained) Loyalty

In user experience by satya

I made a fleeting reference in my previous post to the pain I was going through with my Windows based laptop. The last 36 hours have reminded me about the paradoxical¬† co-relation between user experience and loyalty, regardless of whether it is software or any other (consumer) based experience. Does an unpleasant user experience impact ‘loyalty’ ? If yes, when does this impact take place ?

Despite having a MacBook floating around somewhere at home, I still prefer to use my Windows based laptop for tasks that I need to get done quickly – my familiarity with Windows is a key factor here. 2 days ago, out of the blue (no pun intended), I started getting the dreaded Blue Screen of Death on my XP machine. I had only installed one new software package in the last week so I promptly uninstalled it but no cigar – I would reboot, type in 1 or 2 letters (not words) and kaboom ! the BSOD would appear.

I decided that instead of reinstalling XP for the 5th time, this time was as good as any to upgrade to Windows 7. I was all ready to install my newly purchased copy of Windows 7 but I first had to get my existing files out of the  XP machine Рand what a chore that turned out to be. The laptop would keep crashing at all the wrong times while I was trying to copy the data out. A good many reboots, curses and DVD rips later, I finally managed to pull the data out and install 7.

In the 24 hours or so since I have got it working, I have been happy with what I have seen. But it’s got me thinking – I was one step away from abandoning Windows altogether due to the horrendous experience. However, ultimately, my familiarity with it won over the inconvenience – how many times do we settle for a compromise because of our reluctance to go through a new learning curve ?

How many chances are we willing to offer a product or service before a consistent set of unpleasant experiences with it kills our loyalty ?