MicroSoft Screwed Up

Windows 8 to be redesigned by Microsoft as PC sales plummet

Biggest expectation is that update will revive start button familiar to users for 17 years before removal from Windows 8

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer said he was ‘betting the company’ on Windows 8, but it now faces a redesign. Photograph: Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer said he was ‘betting the company’ on Windows 8, but it now faces a redesign. Photograph: Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images

When Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer first revealed his software for the touchscreen world in February 2012, he said he was “betting the company” on it.

There were “no compromises” made in replacing the time-honoured desktop with Windows 8’s colourful tile-based interface, Ballmer insisted.

But just six months after the official release, Microsoft – which relies on Windows licences for about half its profits – is getting ready to make compromises to key aspects of the software. It comes after its leap into the tablet computing future was described as “confusing” (or worse) by new users and has been blamed for plummeting sales of PCs, which had their sharpest drop on record in the first three months of this year, down 14%.

The biggest expectation is that the update to Windows 8, codenamed Blue and due within a few weeks, will revive the start button that had been familiar to users for 17 years but which was removed from the new version.

If correct, it will be a U-turn as momentous in its way as Coca-Cola’s abandonment of “New Coke” in 1985 just three months after its launch following consumer protests.

Tami Reller, promoted to head Microsoft’s Windows division after Ballmer ejected former chief Steve Sinofsky in November, announced on an internal Microsoft blog on Monday that Blue will be “an opportunity for us to respond to the customer feedback that we’ve been closely listening to” since the October launch.

“Are there things that we can do to improve the experience? Absolutely,” Reller told the Associated Press. “There is a learning curve [to Windows 8] and we can work to address that.”

The principal challenge for experienced users of Windows is the total absence of a Start button, familiar since 1995 as the place with all their programs and shortcuts stored in a huge list. Windows 8 instead introduces a layer of giant “tiles” over the traditional desktop.

But users find that perplexing – so much so that one of the bestselling apps on Windows 8 has been Stardock, which lets the user add the start button back in, and ModernMix, which lets tile apps run on the old desktop. That will have given Reller pause – along with the fact that sales of Windows PCs have shrunk for the past four quarters, declining sharply year-on-year by 11.4% between January-March to about 74m.

The blame for that was put squarely at Sinofsky’s door by Bob O’Donnell of the research company IDC: “At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market,” he said.

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Opinion:

MicroSoft finally admits it screwed up!

I haven’t touched a MicroSoft product since XP, as far as I can see all the innovations since then have been utter CRAP!

While MicroSoft need products for the tablets and smartphones with touch screen technology, there is still a world that uses PCs and if they can’t keep a decent platform for them, they will continue to lose market share.

I will never consider this ‘Blue’ thing either.

I went to buy a new PC, it was loaded with Windows 8, I asked for it to be converted to XP and was told it couldn’t be done. I didn’t buy the PC. I went next door and bought an older secondhand (newer than the one I’ve got) and refurbished it and installed XP.

XP is the ONLY MicroSoft product that I, and I am sure many others, have any confidence in!

 

 

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