Monday27 March 2023

Will Windows 8.1 Be Enough To Win Back Consumers? Probably Not

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At the Windows Build conference Microsoft is all about pushing Window 8.1. This is the new release of Windows that Microsoft hope will capture the consumer imagination enough to finally bring sales back up. The question is (and always has been) has Microsoft really made any significant changes to the OS in areas that matter? We are talking about an OS that is just now (after almost a year) pushing past Windows Vista. Vista was almost as hated as the failed Windows ME which was another of Microsoft’s attempts to change the way they did things. Can Windows 8.1 really impact consumer perception of the OS? Sure there are some things to like, but it is unlikely that these changes will have a major impact.

The first problem that Microsoft faces is not something they are going to go back on. The ModernUI is here to stay. Microsoft will let you boot to the desktop and have even consented to give you a start button, but it is not the one you have been using since Windows 95. For the most part you are still going to be working in the modern UI to get things done… well at least that is where you will be unless you buy something like Start8 or another true start button replacement.  

But there are things to like about Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, sadly for right now the bad outweighs the good. The biggest issue (although many will claim it is not) is the UI. It is not intuitive and the way that Microsoft wants to push all apps to full screen is annoying to say the least. Sure there is “desktop” that is available and you can run some applications there, but if it is from the Microsoft store or a ModernUI app then full screen it is! To many their once flexible and functional machine is now a single task device.  This is the biggest complaint that I hear from people that are running or considering running Windows 8 and unless there is a major revision then it is likely to follow Windows 8.1.

This is the biggest counter argument to the claim that the ModernUI is easier to use. Why would someone want a high-performance machine to only run one active task at a time? Most people will work with multiple windows open and they switch back and forth as they want. Why push the same basic level of functionality that you get on a tablet or phone onto a desktop or laptop? It is not going to work in the consumer’s mind and offering touch to them is not going to fix it. Microsoft unde Steve Ballmer has forgotten how to build an OS worth buying and they are quickly eroding their grip on the enterprise market. Their recent licensing changes, cloud integration in their core operating systems and server products are not doing Microsoft any favors. In many IT circles their new move is something of a joke (including making all Exchange 2013 configuration Web Based).

Sadly for Microsoft, the time when they can offer small and incremental fixes is long past. They need to look at real consumer feedback and make changes in the UI and workflow of the OS. If they cannot do this then even the improvements in memory performance, CPU scaling and DX 11.2 will not be enough to turn the tables for Windows 8.

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Last modified on Monday, 01 July 2013 19:49

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