Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

There's no going back

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

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!


This is Leo Notenboom for

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.


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

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 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

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

2 comments on “There's no going back”

  1. *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?

  2. 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 :

    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.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.