Print 121 comment(s) - last by tamalero.. on May 21 at 12:48 PM

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 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.

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.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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