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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 MaulBall789 on 5/13/2013 11:55:43 AM , Rating: 2
If you really believe you can't use an iPad as a tool, then you haven't used one at all. You can create documents, spreadsheets, photo albums, edit video... do nearly anything else that any other tablet can do. It's all about the apps you need in the same way your PC is only useful if it has the right applications.

RE: These Articles are Becoming Ridiculous
By w8gaming on 5/14/2013 5:42:20 AM , Rating: 2
A more appropriate description is that iPad is an inferior toy, as well as an inferior tool. For being an inferior toy, it cannot play Starcraft 2, or League of Legends etc. For being an inferior tool, it cannot be used to write new software.

RE: These Articles are Becoming Ridiculous
By MaulBall789 on 5/14/2013 8:27:36 AM , Rating: 2
Ten years ago, what did you use to write new software? What did you use to play Starcraft 1? You're telling me an app can't be developed to have the iPad do either of those things? My 8 year old XP box didn't come with the software to compile C or any other language. It didn't come with Starcraft preinstalled either. I had to buy or otherwise acquire an install of those. But if Blizzard wanted to make an iPad version of Starcraft 2 I'm pretty sure they could and it would play just like the PC version does. I'm also sure there are plenty of programming language compiler apps out there for iPad as well. I'm not saying it's the ideal piece of hardware for developing, but it obviously wasn't meant to be. No tablet design is. Doesn't mean you can't. Just need to install the right software to do so. Same as your PC box.

RE: These Articles are Becoming Ridiculous
By HoosierEngineer5 on 5/14/2013 8:58:36 AM , Rating: 2
As far as I can tell, the iPAD does not come with Ethernet, a keyboard, GPS, FM radio receiver television receiver, expandable memory, a mouse, USB, any removable medium, game port, etc. It does not seem to fit into existing infrastructure very well. With enough effort, you might be able to add all this, but it would be freakisly complex, and possibly unreliable. It almost seems to be an internet-only entertainment consumption device. I can imagine businesses could use it for e'mail, but it seems a bit cumbersome to be really portable.

It plays youtube very well.

RE: These Articles are Becoming Ridiculous
By MaulBall789 on 5/14/2013 4:56:04 PM , Rating: 2
It sounds like you have never used an iPad before. So I'll fill you in.

*No Ethernet-- Does wifi not count? Do other tabs or smartphones have a hardwire RJ-45 input?

*No Keyboard-- Love my little Logitech bluetooth keyboard, works great on both my PC and iPad, but made to hinge directly to the iPad using its built in magnets and blend perfectly.

*No GPS-- neither do most laptops or other tabs, but most smartphones do.

*No FM radio-- I<3Radio app, anyone?

*No TV receiver-- neither does a laptop without a bunch of cablecard extension adapters. No other tabs or smartphones have this function either (that I know of) without a specific app and additional external hardware.

*No Expandable memory-- you got me there

*No Mouse-- Touchscreen? Bluetooth mouse if you really need it.

*No USB-- Via adapter, but yes a pain. Hasn't affected me so far because...

*No Removable medium-- no but you can sync and export docs or files fairly easily over the network to the cloud or your home network. If you have no internet connection you can save them on the iPad itself. Shocking, I know.

*No Game port-- Who the hell needs a game port anymore? Does any other tablet or smartphone have one?

*Doesn't fit into existing infrastructure-- Maybe for you but it fits into my networks with ease.

*Too cumbersome to be portable-- More so than a laptop? Now you are just reaching. If I have a couple of books I would like to read on a plane or a train, an iPad (or any other tablet for that matter) is the way to go. Plus I can get other things done if I wish, whether I have internet or not.

You're trying really hard to discredit something that adds value and convenience to a lot of people's lives. If you like things to remain difficult to help you feel superior to your immediate environment then more power to you. Don't expect anyone else to follow your lead though.

By Belard on 5/15/2013 7:02:23 AM , Rating: 2
Half of m posts on this website and others is with my iPad... even if my Win7 desktop with a 24" display is in the next room or a few feet away.

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

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