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Windows 8.1 will feature a start button, more mouse support, and boot-to-desktop, moves away from Metro

Late Apple, Inc. (AAPL) CEO Steven P. Jobs famously said, "People don't know what they want until you show it to them."

But for his perennial rival Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) that formula doesn't seem to be playing out well for Windows 8.  The ambitious redesign has helped steer the PC industry into its worst-ever first-quarter sales percentage drop.  Now some believe Microsoft may be returning to the more traditional Windows look-and-feel that some commentators believe was a path towards a slow death.

A big part of the problem is the complete lack of any kind of official tutorial for the average user when booting up the dramatic operating redesign for the first time.  As a result many customers who have bought Windows 8 devices simply don't understand how to use their devices (to be fair, many features in OS X, such as the application launchers are as complex or more so as Windows 8's at-times-bewildering interfaces).

Windows Blue styles
Windows 8.1 will reportedly somewhat prune back and revamp Metro's role.
[Image Source: The Verge]

Following reports that Microsoft is moving to allow users to boot to desktop and return some semblance of the Start button (albeit one that dumps users into Metro), ZDNet's Windows chief blogger Mary Jo Foley reports that Microsoft is working to remedy another major problem of Windows 8 -- poor mouse support -- with the upcoming Windows 8.1 upgrade.  She says the improvements, which will look to make the interfaces as easy to use with a mouse as with touch, may not make the release preview coming at the end of June but "still could make it into the final product."

In terms of Microsoft's dilemma, she points to a blog post that former Windows President Steven Sinofsky posted early this month.  
 

Sinofsky (left) shows off Microsoft Surface [Image Source: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]

Mr. Sinofsky, who masterminded both the well-received traditional upgrade, Windows 7, and the much-villainized redesign, Windows 8, writes:

If you listen to customers (and vector back to the previous path in some way: undo, product modes, multiple products/SKUs, etc.) you will probably cede the market to the new entrants or at least give them more precious time. If technology product history is any guide, pundits will declare you will be roadkill in fairly short order as you lack a strategic response. There’s a good chance your influential customers will rejoice as they can go back and do what they always did. You will then be left without an answer for what comes next for your declining usage patterns.

If you don’t listen to customers (and stick to your guns) you are going to 'alienate' folks and cede the market to someone who listens. If technology product history is any guide, pundits will declare that your new product is not resonating with the core audience. Pundits will also declare that you are stubborn and not listening to customers.

That "d-mned if you do, d-mned if you don't" dilemma appears to be what Microsoft is facing now.  Ms. Foley belives Microsoft is currently moving towards going back to Option A (returning to its previous path), but she warns that option could prove fatal to the company in the long term.

Still, she optimistically adds, "I believe Microsoft can stay its Metro-centric, touch-centric course with Windows Blue, while still making some changes that will make the OS more usable and comfortable fora bigger pool of users. While it would have been great if Windows 8 debuted this way last October, I say better late than never."

Sources: Learn By Shipping [Steven Sinofsky], ZDNet



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I Like...
By ballist1x on 5/13/2013 10:44:46 AM , Rating: 5
Windows 8. Its nice its fast, it does what i need. When i installed PowerShell.

And except for Metro. When you are a desktop user with multi core cpu and 4-8GB of ram, why would you want to be constrained to view only 1 application at once using this interface?

Give me a desktop with many windows and instances of multiple apps being run concurrently on the same screen at the same time.

For a tablet when you have limited screen space/resolution fine, one app per one screen. When you have more why would you want to constrain youself?




RE: I Like...
By Obujuwami on 5/13/13, Rating: 0
RE: I Like...
By kyuuketsuki on 5/13/2013 11:13:43 AM , Rating: 2
Detection to disable the "tablet features"? Why? *One click* or *one keyboard shortcut* and you're in the desktop environment. What's the issue? What if a desktop user wants to use the touch interface?

I support the changes supposedly being made, but I still find all this whining going on way ridiculous. No one is "forced" to use the Metro interface for anything (except when you're doing an app search, I guess). People will seriously bitch about anything.


RE: I Like...
By chripuck on 5/13/2013 1:30:14 PM , Rating: 5
Because it's more than just that.

The Start Button. Yes, I agree, it's technically still there, but it provides nothing more than 50 pixels of more taskbar space by removing it. It's as much brand recognition as anything and was stupid to remove.

Multiple multi-tasking panes. Why do I have a click top left corner to view recent apps AND a taskbar of recent apps that don't show up in the other recent apps list. It's ridiculous. Yes, I know I can disable it (and I did) and I realize it's meant for tablets, but it's stupid.

Metro apps. Why are there two versions of Skype? Why do metro apps HAVE to run full screen when the OS damn well knows I'm on a 1080p monitor on a full fledged PC? This goes back to the multi-tasking bit above, a metro app should show in the desktop taskbar and the touch multi-tasking should mirror the desktop multi-tasking.

These are just off the top of my head as I uninstalled Win 8 after using it for a month. I loved the faster boot times, I loved the true hybrid sleep (with DLNA it ROCKS), I loved the full screen "Start menu" aka Metro aka Modern. I loved the live tiles. I loved the pinned apps rather than a large list of alphabetical programs. None of this mattered in the end because the usability was so... clunky.


RE: I Like...
By Ralph999 on 5/13/2013 4:24:59 PM , Rating: 5
Let me add to your list:
- They've locked down adjustable elements of the UI. i.e.; colors, text size, fonts etc. Stuff one has been doing for 12 years are now impossible. For instance:
-now the task bar text is now always white and the title bar text is now always black.
-And the display font is always fixed -you can no longer pick your own.
-If you want a green window title bar, you can't also have a gray task bar because colors of are now linked. (And people bitch about Apple lock-down!)

Windows 8 has all the earmarks of a hastily contrived POS. If Blue is anything like it, color me gone.

On a personal note, my girlfriend bought a Win8 laptop a couple weeks ago (she has only ever used Windows.)
She was totally enraged. She said the shutdown methodology alone was just plain ridiculous. She took it back.

Her last comment to me was; "After what I went through, I will never, ever buy a Windows laptop again."

Is this the kind of sentiment Microsoft wants?!?

I simply can't believe they did any substantial end user testing before this monstrosity was shoved out the door.


RE: I Like...
By nikon133 on 5/13/13, Rating: -1
RE: I Like...
By nikon133 on 5/14/13, Rating: -1
RE: I Like...
By BRB29 on 5/14/2013 8:07:32 AM , Rating: 2
lmao the shutdown/sleep/restart option location is whacked. Why is it in settings? I couldn't find it the first time I tried to shut down. Had to google lol.


RE: I Like...
By Wolfpup on 5/14/2013 9:25:11 AM , Rating: 2
I wish they'd do away with the requirement to put Metro programs in the "walled garden", and ALSO add the ability for a single program to be accessible in both desktop AND Metro mode. Then things like you mentioned-Skype, etc., could be viewable both ways with a toggle.

Frankly that's what I was looking for Apple to do with the iPad when there was still some chance it might be x86 based running real OS X, rather th an literally a giant iPod.


RE: I Like...
By BaronMatrix on 5/14/2013 5:44:07 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention that Metro apps DON'T show up in the Sound Mixer...


RE: I Like...
By BRB29 on 5/13/2013 1:48:15 PM , Rating: 5
People are whining about the fact they put a UI made for touch devices into machines that uses a mouse and keyboard.

People are pissed off that the clunky Metro replaces an almost perfect hierarchy system that's called a Start Button.

People are pissed off that Metro takes up the whole screen and the Start Button takes up 1/8 or less and both have equal function(except the annoying active tiles but that's preference)

People are pissed off that they've always organized their files and programs the same way since Win98. Now they have to deal with a bunch of icons and search. I don't need to search if I already have know where everything is in my head.

People are pissed off that such a great OS is destroyed by Microsoft's attempt to get people used to Metro so they can sell more phones.

People are pissed off because they have a bunch more icons and shortcuts on their desktop and task bar just to avoid Metro screen.

People are pissed off that this UI seems to be made to do things one at a time rather than multitasking.

All this points to Metro. Yes, there's plenty of ways around it but why should we deal with it? It was working great before. Instead of improving it, they made it worse.


RE: I Like...
By maugrimtr on 5/14/2013 10:08:20 AM , Rating: 2
Brilliant summary.

quote:
People are pissed off because they have a bunch more icons and shortcuts on their desktop and task bar just to avoid Metro screen.


That's me. A quarter of my desktop is covered by application and folder shortcuts. I can a) double click one of them or b) move mouse to corner, enter search term, search, hope it shows what I want. One of these requires three extra steps...


RE: I Like...
By BifurcatedBoat on 5/14/2013 4:36:17 PM , Rating: 1
Windows 8 User: "I don't know what people are complaining about. It runs. You can get to work with it. I have. The lack of AC isn't that bad, and sure it may have poor acceleration but I haven't gotten into an accident with it yet."

Windows 7 User: "Well OK, but I already own a nice late-model car with none of those problems. Why would I want to switch to a rusty hunk of junk with no AC, that burns oil and has cylinder compression problems?"


RE: I Like...
By tamalero on 5/21/2013 12:48:53 PM , Rating: 2
this this this!

I honestly got sick of repeating the same Windows 8 mistakes just to be bashed by bandwagoners saying "you need to relearn".
relearn what? that a lot of windows 8 is extremely inefficient for REAL power users?


RE: I Like...
By neothe0ne on 5/13/2013 2:01:23 PM , Rating: 1
"No one is "forced" to use the Metro interface for anything (except when you're doing an app search, I guess)"

Just because you haven't encountered any such inconvenience doesn't make it true. Try doing anything useful with Bluetooth in Windows 8, you'll be forced to use Metro.


RE: I Like...
By BRB29 on 5/14/2013 11:16:56 AM , Rating: 1
You are forced to use metro when you want to open a new program. No, i will not clutter my desktop/taskbar with program shortcuts.

There are also 2 version of each many programs. One is the real version and the other is the app version. Please tell me why I ever need the app version made for tablets? It is terrible at multitasking. I used the app version of the browser by accident and thought i was going crazy.


RE: I Like...
By cfaalm on 5/14/2013 3:43:43 PM , Rating: 2
What I find annoying is that the metro/modern version is not the same as the desktop version of say IE, FF or Chrome. I have to use the ole desktop version to do online banking. And closing a metro/modern app should be simpler. Other than that, I'm happy with it.


RE: I Like...
By BaronMatrix on 5/14/2013 5:47:52 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, it is a pain that you have to hover over the left tile and then click close.. WTF...?


RE: I Like...
By Piiman on 5/18/2013 11:25:09 AM , Rating: 2
The problem is you don't know you have to HOVER over it. What the heck was wrong with the "X" that you could click? Now its hidden and for what reason?


RE: I Like...
By Piiman on 5/18/2013 11:22:21 AM , Rating: 2
Thats Bull. It pops up all the time and to avoid it you really have to add some third party apps and make a real effert to keep it confined to its Metro land.
Besides like many have said its a clunky mess and is basically two OS's tied together. Me tried to jam it down our throats when they should have eased us into to has they developed it over time.

I laugh everytime I see their TV ads where the guys says "Look you can run TWO apps at once!" WOW! HE fails to mention the second app can only be 2 inches wide, LOL, or that in the old Windows you could run as many as you had memory for which is a hell of a lot more than TWO!

Frankly I'm surprised Balmer hasn't been canned.


RE: I Like...
By mdg1019 on 5/13/13, Rating: -1
RE: I Like...
By MrBungle123 on 5/13/2013 11:22:43 AM , Rating: 5
I think you're giving too much credit to MS. Windows 8 was an experiment, if the Metro UI was a massive success they would moved toward dropping the desktop all together. That is why so many that rely on the multitasking capabilities of a computer for their livelihoods are uneasy/put off about the direction MS has been moving...

Its not stupidity its knowing how MS works, they move to something new and let the old rot on the vine, only in this case the new is demonstrably inferior for many tasks that the old did quite well. I would elaborate but I'll leave you and your >2 brain cells to figure it out.


RE: I Like...
By NellyFromMA on 5/13/2013 12:10:32 PM , Rating: 2
One UI is consumer oriented the other is productivity oriented.

No need to feel inferior anyone. They do different things better. That's all.

The two modes need a better marriage somehow and are so dynamically different that I'm not sure can happen as long as metro fully takes the place of the start menu.

I think replacing the start menu with metro altogether might just be a conceptual flaw. There are two conflicting interests and purposes there even though at a base-level there is a common function.

Perhaps the start menu could sync with the metro start screen with an easy toggle?

I see why they would choose not to do this at first: there would jus tbe too many people who would ignore it in their reservist ways.

I personally refused to use the "advanced" start menu that XP introduced until Windows 7 left me with no other choice, and I was fine with it after getting over myself. As a result, jump lists were used way more because people couldn't ignorantly shut it off for the sake of being stuck in their outdated ways.

The start screen, however, needed to be a slam dunk in its functionality overlap with the start menu and it just wasn't.

For home use, it truly does not get in my way what-so-ever. I actually like the start screen when I don't care about productivity.

For business workstation use, however... it just doesn't offer anything but takes things away.

I think we'll see this issue scrutinized for awhile but it will be awhile because Windows straight up just insn't


RE: I Like...
By NellyFromMA on 5/13/2013 12:10:32 PM , Rating: 2
One UI is consumer oriented the other is productivity oriented.

No need to feel inferior anyone. They do different things better. That's all.

The two modes need a better marriage somehow and are so dynamically different that I'm not sure can happen as long as metro fully takes the place of the start menu.

I think replacing the start menu with metro altogether might just be a conceptual flaw. There are two conflicting interests and purposes there even though at a base-level there is a common function.

Perhaps the start menu could sync with the metro start screen with an easy toggle?

I see why they would choose not to do this at first: there would jus tbe too many people who would ignore it in their reservist ways.

I personally refused to use the "advanced" start menu that XP introduced until Windows 7 left me with no other choice, and I was fine with it after getting over myself. As a result, jump lists were used way more because people couldn't ignorantly shut it off for the sake of being stuck in their outdated ways.

The start screen, however, needed to be a slam dunk in its functionality overlap with the start menu and it just wasn't.

For home use, it truly does not get in my way what-so-ever. I actually like the start screen when I don't care about productivity.

For business workstation use, however... it just doesn't offer anything but takes things away.

I think we'll see this issue scrutinized for awhile but it will be awhile because Windows straight up just insn't


RE: I Like...
By NellyFromMA on 5/13/2013 12:14:27 PM , Rating: 2
One UI is consumer oriented the other is productivity oriented.

No need to feel inferior anyone. They do different things better. That's all.

The two modes need a better marriage somehow and are so dynamically different that I'm not sure can happen as long as metro fully takes the place of the start menu.

I think replacing the start menu with metro altogether might just be a conceptual flaw. There are two conflicting interests and purposes there even though at a base-level there is a common function.

Perhaps the start menu could sync with the metro start screen with an easy toggle?

I see why they would choose not to do this at first: there would jus tbe too many people who would ignore it in their reservist ways.

I personally refused to use the "advanced" start menu that XP introduced until Windows 7 left me with no other choice, and I was fine with it after getting over myself. As a result, jump lists were used way more because people couldn't ignorantly shut it off for the sake of being stuck in their outdated ways.

The start screen, however, needed to be a slam dunk in its functionality overlap with the start menu and it just wasn't.

For home use, it truly does not get in my way what-so-ever. I actually like the start screen when I don't care about productivity.

For business workstation use, however... it just doesn't offer anything but takes things away.

I think we'll see this issue scrutinized for awhile but it will be awhile because Windows straight up just isn't going anywhere in the next 5-10 years one way or the other.

Consumer workloads are clearly shifting to the 1 app at a time approach because 9/10 consumers don't need or want anything more.

Why people on here think only there experience is the one that matters never really amazes me other than the fact I thought there were readers here that would a little more technical than average consumers, but instead its just a minority of commenters who just THINK they are.


RE: I Like...
By StanO360 on 5/13/2013 12:17:10 PM , Rating: 1
But let's face it Metro is a UI success on the phone (though at least at this juncture not a sales success)

This would have been hailed as the second coming if it was OSX. In fact, everywhere I go, websites, advertising, software on Android, Metro style is everywhere.

The problem is there are fundamentally two classes of Windows users, those that have taken 10 minutes to understand it and those that haven't. MS is trying to reach the latter, but has displaced the former.


RE: I Like...
By BaronMatrix on 5/14/2013 5:54:43 PM , Rating: 2
Ummm, that's BS... I know how to use Metro perfectly and I still hate it... Not Metro, but the fact that Aero helps me organize my 30 open windows... I like the Tiles for Facebook and Email... I DON'T like that a Metro app doesn't appear in the sound Mixer... I REALLY hate the fact that my USB 3.0 controller isn't supported under Win8 HyperV... There are only like three USB 3.0 controllers...

So I can't use my desktop for Win Phone 8 apps with the emulator...

&&#*#(@(#$)(@)*&#@()*&$*()@&$


RE: I Like...
By Piiman on 5/18/2013 11:36:08 AM , Rating: 2
Bull the two classes or people that have work to do on a PC and want a PC that can have more than ONE window open and, well, people that love a silly Tablet OS on their PC. I know which one you are can you guess which one I am?



RE: I Like...
By invidious on 5/13/2013 12:35:09 PM , Rating: 2
Getting the masses to switch takes a better pitch than "hey it isn't as inconvinient as you think!".

Changing OS is a time and effort invenstment. The short term sacrifices need to be outweighed by longterm benifits. Right now the short term sacrifices are large (at least that is the perception) and the long term benifits are slim. Maybe sp1 or sp2 will change that perception.


RE: I Like...
By Piiman on 5/18/2013 11:30:02 AM , Rating: 1
Its really not that simple and you know it.
Why can't we just boot to the desktop? Why do I even have to see Metro if I'm not goin gto use it? Even after you go to the desktop Metro will still be poking its head up all the time.

MS used to give us OPTIONS and lots of them but they decided to take those away with Win 8 and force us to do it their new way.

I think MS throught they had more lemmings like you that would blindly follow them to Metro land and their new walled garden.


RE: I Like...
By bug77 on 5/13/2013 11:54:54 AM , Rating: 2
Oh, that's one of my favourites: I have a machine capable of resizing a window while showing the movie within it running with hardware acceleration and Microsoft needs to release an update so that I can use a new tile size. That's something that will give Apple (with their walled garden approach) food for thought.


RE: I Like...
By Flunk on 5/13/2013 12:32:19 PM , Rating: 2
A new tile size is on the way, it's one of the new 8.1 features. It will be great because it means my desktop app icons won't have a lot of wasted space on them like they do now.


RE: I Like...
By Mint on 5/13/2013 1:48:42 PM , Rating: 2
I just make all the tiles small by adding more rows, but I can see it being useful to keep some of them large.


RE: I Like...
By DiscoWade on 5/13/2013 12:14:05 PM , Rating: 2
I put Windows 8 on my HTPC. For a while I had trouble with the Ceton CableCard driver, but Ceton has fixed that now. It is great for a HTPC with one problem. Many times, but not every time, when I wake the computer from sleep I have to unplug the USB IR receiver or many important buttons don't work.


RE: I Like...
By BaronMatrix on 5/14/2013 5:57:00 PM , Rating: 2
It's a USB 3.0 problem I believe... That means you probably can't use HyperV...

I've seen that several times trying to see if my Renesas USB would EVER not destroy the system...


RE: I Like...
By tayb on 5/13/2013 12:30:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Give me a desktop with many windows and instances of multiple apps being run concurrently on the same screen at the same time.


You've been given this. It's called "Windows 8." If you don't want to be constrained to a single application in a single window... don't run Metro apps. The desktop is a click or a keyboard command away. Would you like to know how many Metro apps I use on a daily basis? Precisely zero.


RE: I Like...
By Argon18 on 5/13/2013 3:49:48 PM , Rating: 2
Powershell, lmao. Microsoft, always the slow kid on the block, finally gets a useful shell.... something UNIX and Linux have had for *decades*.

And in typically Microsoft fashion, instead of implementing a POSIX compliant shell, they've created a bastard proprietary turd, only compatible with itself. Microsoft is a master of vendor-lockin, doing everything it can to lock its customers into the crippled little Microsoft ecosystem.


RE: I Like...
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 5/13/2013 6:57:12 PM , Rating: 2
The biggest complaint I have with Powershell is they tried to copy Perl which is a flaming piece of shit in the first place. They would have been better off trying to integrate Python or maybe get something closer to C#. Powershell uses .NET just like VB/C#/J#/etc... It just feels like the same recycled garbage that was Perl.


RE: I Like...
By wempa on 5/14/2013 2:36:54 PM , Rating: 2
My group at work has to automate a lot of tasks on both Windows and Linux. It amazes us how crippled the Windows shell is. Doing something as simple as running a command and storing the output in a variable is impossible to do directly. For any non-trivial tasks, we always use Python or Perl on the Windows side.


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