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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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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By Moto7451 on 5/13/2013 2:56:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...(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)


The problem with this comparison is that the complex features/behaviors in OS X are in most cases optional and were introduced over time. If you want to use OS X like you used OS 9, by double clicking on every folder to find things and littering the desktop with program aliases, you can knock yourself out. At the time, people were more annoyed that OS X felt really slow than the fact it worked differently, since in most cases you could use the computer the same way (less the 'Special' menu... ah the good ol' days lol).

Also most of the features we take for granted took many iterations of the OS to show up. 10.2->10.6 is really where most of the fancy launchers, search tools, window organizers, & multi desktop features were introduced. Since then it's really been more about adding iOS style features (which again, you can feel free to ignore).

Meanwhile, with Windows 8 they took away everything familiar. The first time I sat in front of the Win 8 login screen I felt like it was a puzzle (I've never had to "move" a modeless window out of the way with my mouse before being able to log into a computer). All I have to say is "Start Menu"... that topic has been beaten to death. Even the people who hated XP at the time for how it looked, could switch from the integrated start menu to the "old" start menu. That's really the crux of the issues. If you let people determine their own learning curve, most people will gradually be coaxed into using cool new features and will move away from the old clunky behavior the design team hated. I know of no one who is clamoring for the Windows 9x start menu these days because eventually even the yell-y kicky scream-y hold outs switched with the integrated one at some point.




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