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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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W8 in the Enterprise
By wallijonn on 5/13/2013 10:49:52 AM , Rating: 4
The fact is that Enterprise does not want to use any W8 app that necessitates an MS account be generated, as it will necessitate a hole in the firewall. When throughput is everything - available bandwidth - there is no need for news to be flashing on the desktop, sports, trending, Bing and travel to be updated every second, etc., much less be on a desktop in the first place. Watching videos on the job is usually frowned upon as is reading one's personal email - as they all rob bandwidth. Ergo W8 is not for the Eneterprise.

RE: W8 in the Enterprise
By Luticus on 5/13/13, Rating: 0
RE: W8 in the Enterprise
By Trisped on 5/13/2013 2:16:07 PM , Rating: 2
I setup my Windows 8 laptop with three separate user accounts, and not one of them is tied to a Microsoft account or a domain account. It can be a little counter intuitive, but it can be done using the built in account creation options.

I also do not like the news feed on the start screen by default, but as I understand it, Domain Admins can set the default contents of the start menu, allowing users to add these apps back in if they want.

I think more control over the start screen tiles would be nice (so I can indicate if it scrolls images, text, doesn't scroll, etc.) but I think Microsoft left this up to app developers, so I would have to pressure the app developer to better support these options or just not have the app in the main section of my start screen.

RE: W8 in the Enterprise
By Dribble on 5/14/2013 4:52:51 AM , Rating: 2
That's the truth of the shift back. While home users have got win 8, and with a bit of work in win 8.1 might be happy enough, the whole philosophy just won't work for big business. I suspect MS have been told by every corporation they asked that they will never switch to win 8.

Those businesses are worth more then the home users, MS can't ignore them and can't stealth upgrade them by only shipping win 8 on new machines.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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