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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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RE: I Like...
By mdg1019 on 5/13/2013 11:09:45 AM , Rating: -1
Gee, just click on the desktop tile and your troubles are over. I think people who are complaining about Win 8 haven't even used it or are really, really stupid and can't figure out that you're only one mouse click away from the desktop and rarely have to use the Metro interface for anything. I would like the Start button back, but there are some simple and inexpensive solutions to get that back.

I guess Microsoft gave consumers too much credit for having at least 2 brain cells to rub together.


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.


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