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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 noone55555 on 5/14/2013 3:54:56 PM , Rating: 3
I've found that Stardock's Start8 and ModernMix utilities make Win8 completely usable. These two simple $5 utilities achieve exactly the tweaks Microsoft should pursue for Win8.1, and you can get them today!

Specifically, they
- bring back a Win7-style start menu
- allow boot to desktop
- allow "Modern" apps to run windowed/non-fullscreen and easily multitask alongside any other app

If it were not for these utilities, I too would recommend avoiding Win8.

My biggest Windows beef these days is actually WinRT... I think Microsoft should allow it to become simply "Win8 for ARM" and avoid all the restrictive "only Modern 3rd party apps allowed" BS! It is utterly confusing to the average user to have WinRT and Win8 be so similar but utterly unequal. RT's inability to support ports of popular existing 3rd party desktop apps is going to kill it in the long run. I think we want and need RT to survive and be a serious desktop/laptop contender, as ARM SOC usage encourages continual evolution of traditional computer form factors, as well as keeping pressure on Intel/AMD to compete aggressively.




By Belard on 5/15/2013 6:46:16 AM , Rating: 2
Many of us have been saying that for a year.

Hell, hit the Start button and a METRO interface slides UP would have made a good choice IMHO. Then the mouse wheel would make more sense. Or Metro tiles are on the left side... in which their LIVE function would be... FUNCTIONAL. And quick and instant access to your Metro APPS. And yes, Metro apps should run in a window like other programs.

Then Win8 would have been GOOD.... also, get rid of the ugly flat UI on the desktop. Metro and most apps are plain ugly... sucking up large amount of screen space with little to NO functionality.

I say this, add free tools to make Win7 work kind of like Win8... its easier and cheaper.


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