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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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Lack of Thorough Tutorial
By Scaredy Retard on 5/13/2013 10:45:36 AM , Rating: 3
Windows 95 was released on August 24th, 1995. Windows 8 was released October 25th, 2012. For seventeen years, consumers got used to and subsequently operated with Windows in the way that was laid out in Windows 95, with tweaks and changes here and there, such as the changed start menu in Windows XP. However, you could easily revert back to classic if you wanted to.

People got used to using and working with Windows in a manner that was first set forth when Clinton was president. People get set in their ways. If you suddenly and abruptly overhaul the entire way the OS is presented, a large segment of the population is not going to be happy. I cannot comment on the OS 9 to X transition and how that was handled and received.

I honestly think that, upon first boot, if Microsoft had presented two options: one for a quick run-through of the changes and one for a far more thorough explanation of the changes, the backlash would not have been nearly as pronounced and Microsoft would not find itself where it is now.

The ability to turn the start button back on would not have hurt, either.




RE: Lack of Thorough Tutorial
By retrospooty on 5/13/2013 10:51:53 AM , Rating: 1
"The ability to turn the start button back on would not have hurt, either"

This is what I keep saying... It was there on the dev preview released a year ago, and by the official product release, they removed it on purpose. Not for any technical reason, just did it to force people down a path. Great for touchscreens, not great for desktops period. If you are going to support both platforms, support both methods. This way no-one is forced to use one that doesn't work well for their personal needs.


RE: Lack of Thorough Tutorial
By Scrogneugneu on 5/13/2013 8:10:41 PM , Rating: 2
My favorite part ?

How Steven Sinofsky and all kept repeating, over and over again, that catchphrase in the Windows 8 beta blog : "No compromise".


RE: Lack of Thorough Tutorial
By Reclaimer77 on 5/13/2013 10:04:35 PM , Rating: 1
This is what a LOT of us have been saying lol. I expect that kind of thing from Apple, but we're not really used to Microsoft telling us how to use Windows as much as they've done with Windows 8.


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