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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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Their problem
By EnzoFX on 5/13/2013 12:40:43 PM , Rating: 5
Their problem wasn't damned if you do, damned if you don't. Such a cop-out. They didn't have to cater to one or the other, they could have catered to BOTH, the same way other companies do. Considering all they had to do was disable the start screen (or provide the option to) for Desktop users, and give them the option to bring the start button, and disable all that gesture crap. Their problem was that they basically try and FORCE everyone, both user bases into one. That's much worse than catering to one, and ignoring the other.

RE: Their problem
By Solandri on 5/13/2013 2:47:44 PM , Rating: 3
i.e. They tried to leverage their huge desktop Windows market share into bolstering their faltering mobile OS market share.

RE: Their problem
By Makaveli on 5/13/2013 3:20:40 PM , Rating: 5
Totally agreed.

Had microsoft just given the option for:

A. Regular Windows 7 style desktop with Boot to desktop

B. Standard Windows 8 with metro

A simple check box when installing and making this accessible from the control panel after install would have solved all this nonsense.

Somebody really should be in hot water for this since this all could have been avoided.

Give your users a choice very simple how did all these high paying executives not see this.

RE: Their problem
By marvdmartian on 5/14/2013 7:53:28 AM , Rating: 2
Heck, I'd even settle for a rollback option, where, after X amount of time, if you truly hated W8, you could install an equivalent version of W7, under the same license.

Personally, I have no interest in W8, and will not bother with it. Hopefully by the time MS comes out with W9, they'll be more in tune with the wants & needs of their customers.

RE: Their problem
By BaronMatrix on 5/14/2013 6:06:20 PM , Rating: 2
MS is CRAZY sometimes.. Windows RT should be the touch OS while Win 8 is the desktop... They did NT and Win2K that way with Alpha and X86...

RE: Their problem
By Piiman on 5/18/2013 12:18:33 PM , Rating: 2
Easy! It was thier idea.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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