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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: These Articles are Becoming Ridiculous
By Motoman on 5/13/2013 11:48:05 AM , Rating: 5
I have no problem at all believing that virtually all of the blame is Win8's.

I have met *no one* who doesn't hate Win8. From basic grandma-at-home users to software developers and engineers. No one.

The ONLY place I see anyone come out with some kind of blabber in support of Win8 is on the internet. We have a ridiculously vocal minority of fanbois who can't see that "innovating" a square wheel is just a stupid idea. Granted the hundreds of people I come into contact with in this industry on a regular basis, and granted that 100% of them just roll their eyes the minute Win8 is even mentioned, I can't even fathom what a tiny % of the overall market these fanbois are.

RE: These Articles are Becoming Ridiculous
By DiscoWade on 5/13/2013 12:10:46 PM , Rating: 1
Your anecdotal evidence is proof of what? I will offer you my anecdotal evidence. I have met exactly 1 person who likes Windows 8. I have even been paid to remove Windows 8 despite me not telling the customer I could put Windows 7 on it. She was the exception because most people who call me about Windows 8 are satisfied with it only after I put Classic Shell on. And after I removed Windows 8 for her, she called her friends who I have never met to say that I can remove Windows 8 for them. I used to know 2 people who liked Windows 8. For this other person I showed how to use Windows 8 and she liked it for a few months. A few months later she called me to complain about it. The more she used it, the more she hated "Metro".

What does this prove? Only that there are strong feelings one way or the other.

What makes me really really angry is when people assume that the ones who hate it are the vocal minority or stupid. Tell me this, since apparently I am a "fanboi" who is too stuck on a square wheel: If I am in a vocal minority then why are programs like Classic Shell and Start8 so popular?

I'm afraid you are mistaken. Metro wasn't making a square wheel obsolete. Your statement implies the start menu was flawed. It was not. A better metaphor is Metro is trying to put a screw in with a hammer. Different tools have different purposes. A tablet is not a laptop/desktop. Metro tried to combined tools but forgot the purpose of each tool.

If you like Metro, fine. We each are entitled to our opinion. Please stop assuming I'm stupid or I do not use Windows 8 or I am a "fanboi" because I do not like Metro.

By Mr Perfect on 5/13/2013 1:01:51 PM , Rating: 3
Motoman was calling people who like 8 fanbois, not people who hate it.

By Motoman on 5/13/2013 1:19:04 PM , Rating: 2 in the f%ck did you read my post and get the impression that I *like* Win8?

Hi: I'm Motoman. And There is no one on DT that hates Win8 more than me.

By BRB29 on 5/13/2013 1:29:16 PM , Rating: 1
Can't say ALL to blame was win8 simply because there are a good amount of people that found a tablet is better for them when shopping for a laptop.
There are plenty of people who just want to check emails, facebook, online shopping, basic office suite, web surfing...regular light home user stuff. For example, my dad is old and he likes the simplicity of the ipad. He isn't missing anything not having a laptop. I see plenty of people at George Mason University rocking only a tablet + keyboard because it is all they need.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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