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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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BS
By Motoman on 5/13/2013 11:44:51 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
you will probably cede the market to the new entrants or at least give them more precious time.


Windows will never "cede" it's market to anyone. There's vastly too much invested in that platform at all levels, with infinitely too much inertia behind it, to ever lose significant marketshare.

...unless you manage to do something so remakably horrible with it as to make it be unusable. Which is exactly what they did with Windows 8.

The traditional Start menu & desktop is the optimal form. To borrow a term from another article a while ago...it's "done." As in...can't be improved upon. Any deviation from that design must necessarily be a degradation.

So put it back in and stop f%cking with it. The other new features of Win8 are useful. Keep doing stuff like that. Make it boot faster, make it more stable, make it perform better, make it more secure, etc.

But knock it off with the "invention" of new BS solely for the purpose of doing something "new." That doesn't impress people...we can see that the emperor is naked. Square wheels on a new car aren't an "innovation" and they sure as hell aren't an "over-innovation" - they're a stupid f%cking idea, and that's all that can be said about it.




RE: BS
By JediJeb on 5/14/2013 9:51:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Windows will never "cede" it's market to anyone. There's vastly too much invested in that platform at all levels, with infinitely too much inertia behind it, to ever lose significant marketshare.


I imagine there was a time when users of Unix and Fortran thought the same thing :)


RE: BS
By Belard on 5/15/2013 6:42:08 AM , Rating: 1
MS Windows already LOST market share. The way PEOPLE use their phones and tablets and NO longer use a desktop or notebook COUNTS as market share.

MSWindows is down to 24%. Android is in higher use.

I access the internet half the time on a NON-Windows device.
My wife spends most of her internet time on her phone. She uses her notebook for ONLY work and its running LinuxMint.

Windows8 accelerated the WindowsOS problem.

Other than MS-Office and handful of other programs... there isn't any real need for a Microsoft OS powered computer. As more people figure this out, the faster Windows becomes a zombie OS.

In reality, WinPC sales is about 60% of what Win7 did... and its getting worse.


RE: BS
By Motoman on 5/15/2013 10:55:54 AM , Rating: 2
Windows has lost no marketshare in the traditional PC market.

They're misfiring wildly in the tablet and phone markets, but those are net-new market segments that they're simply failing at. They're not losing marketshare there - they never had any.


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