Two articles caught my attention this week and both of them came from The Verge. Both stories came out within 2 days of each other. In that they both dealt with Microsoft talking about or actually reversing previous decisions about Windows 8, I had to wonder if this was Microsoft damage control at work. It would seem so.
It’s not just me. A lot of my friends in IT think the Windows 8 release was a disaster. Microsoft was seen as telling the computing public, “You will accept our new Windows and you will like it.”
Uh, no they won’t.
Early sales figures were far more than disappointing for the folks at Redmond. So disappointing in fact, that the company made public at least some intentions of making amends to their customers.
Oh where, oh where has my start button gone…
The first pooey to hit the blades was the initial layout of the Windows 8 desktop. It’s not that people were complaining about the initial “getting used to it” period; it was more like a “get this out of my face” period. It appears that the lack of a start button just plain flat pissed people off. And who in hell decided to use Aunt Tilly’s old quilt pattern on the Desktop? The new interface disrupted users workflow, caused mini revolts at the workplace and made doing and finding things a challenge, to say the least. Even longtime Windows user and stalwart Adrian Kingsley-Hughes hates it. When your most avid fans turn on you…ya gotta take notice.
So Microsoft is strongly considering putting the start button back where it belongs. How many focus groups did they have to use to figure that brain-child out?
“Maybe we should put the start button back where people are used to it.”
Oh, ya think?
“Microsoft appears to be readying some significant changes to its next version of Windows. Paul Thurrott reports that Microsoft is planning to make the Start menu available as an option in the next major Windows release, currently codenamed ‘Threshold.’ The Start menu change will follow a recent reversal that Microsoft made in Windows 8.1, bringing back the Start button UI. It’s not clear if the Start menu will be made available for all versions of Windows Threshold, and Thurrott speculates it may appear as an option for those that only support desktop apps.”
Well, I for one am glad to see this happening, although a few friends who do Windows repairs and reinstalls aren’t particularly happy with it. They got a $75.00 service charge for arriving just to change the desktop layout. Microsoft intention to return the start button and its traditional function will surely produce a wailing and gnashing of teeth in the Windows service shop circles.
And from the desk of free licenses…
It’s been my experience that Redmond is loath to give away anything. But since the Android phone and tablet rampage, Microsoft is desperately looking for ways to catch up in the mobile sector. So what do they intend on doing? Well, they decided it might be a good idea to give away Windows Phone and Windows RT systems for free. They see this as a sure-fire way to combat Google’s hold on the mobile market.
“Microsoft is considering making Windows Phone and Windows RT available free of charge to device makers. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans have revealed to The Verge that free future versions are under serious consideration by OS chief Terry Myerson. We understand the plans aren’t fully set in stone, but they’re part of broader changes Myerson is planning for the future of Windows. Microsoft is currently planning and developing future updates, including a ‘Threshold’ update that’s designed to bring back the Start menu and provide more flexibility for desktop users.”
There’s mention of that pesky start button again.
Microsoft has to do something to at least make a showing in the phone and tablet market. How better to do that than to imitate your leading competitor?
“Microsoft’s thinking behind free versions of Windows is clear: drive demand and combat Android. At present, Nokia dominates Windows Phone, and PC makers have started to ignore Windows RT in favor of Windows 8 and Android. While device makers are flocking to Android for tablets and smartphones, Microsoft and Nokia are the only companies left shipping Windows RT products. Free versions of Windows RT and Windows Phone would likely push device makers to produce more products and in turn improve developer interest in building applications for the platforms.”
I dunno. Sounds like a good plan to me, but Microsoft’s plans haven’t always worked out in their favor. Hey fellas, how’d that acquisition of aQuantive work out for ya? I guess when you are sitting on the Mount Everest of cash piles, six billion dollars isn’t that bad…right?
So, right now Microsoft is counting on giving their customers what they should have gotten in the first place and copying their competition to stem the green bleeding. I wish them luck, if only for the large amounts of friends I have working there. But as in long races, when one horse falls far behind, the best you can do is cut the legs from everyone in front of you. Oh wait, there’s always Rockstar. Never mind, seems they got that covered too.
Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue