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Change is inevitable, and often unexpected. So what do you do when faced with changes you don't want?

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This is Leo Notenboom for askleo.info.

A couple of months ago I started getting a rash of complaints from MSN Hotmail users. They had been switched to the new Windows Live Hotmail. It's the same service with an updated user interface and feature set.

The folks complaining didn't want to switch. Many didn't like the change just because it was change; they saw it as Microsoft fixing something that wasn't broken. Many more simply didn't like the new user interface, preferring the old one instead.

And both camps simply wanted to go back.

Today I got a similar complaint about Yahoo. Apparently they've revised some portion of their interface in a way that some users don't like.

He wanted to go back.

Sorry.

There's no going back.

This is one of the hidden "gotcha's" we don't often think about when using on-line services. The fact is that we're totally at the mercy of the service provider. If they want to change something, they can, they do, and they have no obligation to allow us to switch back.

Now, I do understand the service providers point of view: they need to keep innovating and improving in order to stay competitive. That implies, heck it requires, change. And no matter what you change, someone won't like it. You might be improving your service, and some number of your customers will disagree. Strongly. They'll insist that you're not improving anything, that in fact you're breaking things.

In fact the only thing that's being broken here are expectations.

But I also understand the perspective of many users: change isn't always necessary or even desired.

Unfortunately things will change, and no, you can't go back. All you can really do is vote with your feet: stop using the service you dislike and find one you can live with. Be it a paid or free service, that's often the only language service providers understand. And even then, if you're in the minority, if most people like the new whatever-it-is, then you're the moral equivalent of collateral damage.

There really is no pleasing everyone.

So what can you do? Well, with online services not a lot. Leaving's about it. If you're using an online equivalent of a desktop application, like email, then perhaps you'd be better off using the desktop equivalent. You won't be able to completely avoid change, but at least more of it will be in your control.

Just ask anyone who's running a 10-year-old email program. Lots of things have changed.

But they haven't.

At least, not yet.

I'd love to hear what you think. Visit askleo.info and enter 12019 in the go to article number box to access the show notes, the transcript and to leave me a comment. While you're there, browse the hundreds of technical questions and answers on the site.

Till next time, I'm Leo Notenboom, for askleo.info.

Article C3215 - November 18, 2007 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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2 Comments
Mary
November 21, 2007 10:33 AM

*sigh* When I buy something be it a car, house, furniture, whatever... the manufacturer doesn't come along a year or two later and change the paint job, engine, upholstery, etc. just because they can... or want to... or because they've got something newer or better. Other than safety recalls or replacing defective parts, I get to keep what I bought. Even with my cell phone service, I'm not forced to change phones or plans just because something newer comes along. My provider continues to support me.

So why is it when I buy internet service, I'm placed in a "like it or leave" situation?

Ken Crook
December 1, 2007 11:18 PM

On the Yahoo home page changes, I also do not like the update, but I will get used to it.

But at the present the new Yahoo page is in Beta, and you can switch back to your original Yahoo home page by entering the following : http://my.yahoo.com/switch

My problem with the new Yahoo home page, beside not liking change, is the slowness of it. When I return to the home page from another site, it is really slow. I think I have narrowed the slowness down to a new feature at the top of the page, I think it was "Yahoo suggestions" or something like that. Even though I have IE6 set to "Never check for newer versions" on the IE6/Tools/settings, the Yahoo home page reloads the "Yahoo suggestions" every time, which is really slow.
I have sent Yahoo my feedback on this problem and I hope Yahoo fixes the problem before I am forced to switch to the new home page.

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