Windows 8.1 Hits RTM, Aims to Win Back Customers
August 27, 2013 7:12 PM
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Start Button, boot to desktop, tile tweaking, tutorials, and many other changes look to win back customers
It's a time of turbulence for Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), the world's largest PC operating system maker. Amidst many struggles, Microsoft's ebullient leader Steve Ballmer announced that he will be
stepping down during the next year
somewhat unintended departure
that his critics have
long been clamoring for
I. Ballmer's Bane Revisited
While Windows Vista may be Mr. Ballmer's
, the driving force behind his departure was arguably Windows 8.
Windows 8 started off a promising concept, but fell victim to a myriad of flaws and shortcomings, which have led to the
biggest percentage drop in PC sales ever
. One major issue was the scope of the redesign -- Microsoft dropped a very new and different interface on consumers with the graphically rich "Modern UI" (aka Metro) homepage and a slew of new multi-touch gestures. Where other similarly complex OSs such as Android include a built-in tutorial that helps teach users how to use the new UI, Windows 8 had no such tutorial. As a result many customers
wrote Windows 8 off quickly, "downgrading" to Windows 7
Other critical flaws in Windows 8 include Microsoft's inability to enforce
its intended touchscreen requirement
-- a critical pillar of the optimal Windows 8 consumer experience -- and Microsoft's
unwillingness to listen to customers
who wanted a backup traditional Start Button/Start Menu when in Desktop Mode.
Even as Mr. Ballmer prepares his exit, his company is aiming to fix some of its Windows 8 misses with Windows 8.1.
The Start Button hovers in Windows 8.1 allowing a fast return to the Desktop Mode. New users are now greeted with tutorials to help them learn the foreign interface in more of a friendly fashion. [Image Source: CNET]
Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 RT
hit Release to Manufacturing
(RTM) on Wednesday. The OS will be released consumers on Oct. 18 as
a free update for all Windows 8 users
II. Windows 8.1 Aims to Turn Around Windows 8 Flop
The RTM build should pack a near complete feature set -- include the aforementioned missing tutorials and Start Button. While
not the Start Button that some consumers were hoping for
, the new Start Button hovers familiarly in the lower left-hand corner, allowing you to quickly flip into and out of the Modern UI -- essentially an unrolled Start Menu -- with a click. Windows 8.1 also
restores the ability to boot to desktop
-- rather than the Modern UI Homepage.
It also integrates
numerous other improvements
, including unified themes; new Modern UI core apps; the ability to unpin, group move, and resize tiles at will; and an improved Windows Store.
Microsoft has taken a gamble by putting the people behind Windows 8 and its mobile twin Windows Phone 8
in key positions of leadership
, during the
recent executive shakeup
. This is a clear testimony to the fact that while Mr. Ballmer may be being shuffled out the door, Microsoft's Board of Directors believes the company was headed in the right direction with Windows 8 and merely failed on the delivery.
Windows 7, Microsoft's
greatest sales success
, was born out of the ashes of the
poorly received Windows Vista
. Likewise Microsoft is looking to hone the sooty carbon of Windows 8 into a diamond with Windows 8.1. Windows 8.1 RTM is the last major milestone in that pre-release refinement process.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
8/30/2013 2:18:10 PM
Windows 7 will be fully supported for a long time. MS has never failed in that sense, so your comment there is plain wrong.
The trick is to sit out the current windows and wait for the company to learn their errors and make one that you want. I did that with Vista and it worked great. XP was by no mean harder to use or worse than Vista. Win 7 was a great upgrade. I'll gladly wait another few years until Windows 2015+ comes out and MS has figured out how to get it right.
If you want to give up on MS, x86, and the ecosystem, that's obviously your prerogative, but it's also your pain.
I can't believe you're comparing some cheap google tablet to Windows. The differences in performance, capability, and ecosystem are quite large.
"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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