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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 Pessimism on 5/13/2013 11:53:34 AM , Rating: 1
FALSE. Ipads are NOT cheaper than entry level laptops. The cheapest Ipad, the Ipad mini, starts at 329 in Canada where entry level laptops are available at $279 with a much larger and easier to read screen.

Try typing a professional looking letter and printing it on an Ipad. For any sort of productivity task they fall flat on their overpriced faces.

By StanO360 on 5/13/2013 12:23:03 PM , Rating: 2
But I think what we're learning is that very few people do professional tasks or any "task" at all on their computers. For most computers, it's email, FB, browsing, games, IMBD, etc.

With two teenagers, we have a need for two full fledged computers for schoolwork. But a third (we actually do have a third) isn't necessary if I have a tablet or even a smartphone.

But even still, everything is easier on a laptop or even easier still on a desktop with a 24" monitor!

RE: These Articles are Becoming Ridiculous
By MaulBall789 on 5/13/2013 12:26:25 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, iPads are not cheaper than entry level PCs.

But typing a professional looking letter on an iPad is simple with a bluetooth keyboard and most any wp app. Print to wifi printer on whatever paper you want and done.

RE: These Articles are Becoming Ridiculous
By Motoman on 5/13/2013 1:21:19 PM , Rating: 2
So in other words, if you actually want to "do" anything on a tablet, turn it into a laptop.

RE: These Articles are Becoming Ridiculous
By BRB29 on 5/13/2013 2:43:23 PM , Rating: 1
lol people add keyboards, case, memory, mouse, etc... on their tablets to get more functionality. Then they realize a laptop does all that for much less.

I have 2 tablets right now and they are just toys. Have both Ipad2 and Asus Transformer. Even with accessories and all the right app, it is still not even close to a laptop in functionality. It is good for me to take notes in a long lecture because I'm not pissing everyone off with my typing.

By cyberserf on 5/14/2013 4:23:02 AM , Rating: 2
the worst part is how these people can write their letters or do anything meaningful on an 10" screen. I used to use an 14" screen in the 80's. LOL

By MaulBall789 on 5/14/2013 8:41:50 AM , Rating: 2
Buy a version of Office 2013 and see how much more expensive your laptop becomes, unless you're only going to be writing letters in the first month of the free trial period...

Pages for iPad is ten bucks, or wait for a sale and get it for five.

Or you could use Google's free online office suite, whatever it's called now. Works on PC AND iPad.

The unique thing about the tablet design is it doesn't have to always be a laptop. That's the whole point. Easier to carry, easier to read on transportation, better overall form and function for more tasks than just writing a letter. I use it far more than I ever used my laptop. If it doesn't work for you, that's perfectly fine. But you can't say you can't "do" anything with a tablet. I do all the time.

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