re: Windows Blue: Restoring The Start Button Isn't Enough
It's a fair point, and one others have brought up. There are workarounds that address the Start button issue.
But that's one reason I doubt bringing back these Windows 7 remnants will do much good for Microsoft in the long run. The Start button and desktop access just aren't big deals, at least not in relative terms. I have no problem with Microsoft including a boot-to-desktop mode or reintegrating the Start button-- but there are much bigger fish to fry. Still, those bigger fish are still metaphors for the same criticism that surrounds the Start button omissions: ease of use.
I can see why Redmond wanted to forcefully socialize users into the Live Tile universe-- but the Modern UI honestly wasn't polished enough for that sort of tactic. Not at the initial prices, anyhow. There's certainly a group of people who will see Windows 8 for what it offers, and who will happily find their own solutions for any of the OS's shortcomings. But consumers are at the core of the issue here, and tablets have conditioned people to expect interfaces that require very little training. One could certainly defend the philosophy Microsoft is demonstrating with its charm functions-- but actually accessing the tools is not that intuitive. If a device is expensive, consumers expect it to work out of the box-- not corner them into learning curves that competing devices somehow avoid.
And if consumers do put up with a learning curve, they expect to be rewarded for the effort. I know some people consider Windows 8 appropriately rewarding-- but there's a much larger group for whom Windows 8 has so far asked too much while delivering too little. I expect that to change by the Fall, when the market will boast touch-enabled devices with not only Windows 8.1 but also the newest Intel chips. These devices won't restore Redmond to its former glory-- but I suspect some of them will be pretty desirable at the high end and pretty cheap at the low end, a nice recipe for increased adoption. For now, though, I don't think Microsoft has shown average users the kinds of experiences (you'll notice I've used that word a lot when assessing Windows 8, both here and elsewhere) that engender enthusiasm.
Tablets can allegedly handle around 80% of the tasks that used to fall to PCs, or at least that's the number I've heard tossed around lately. If that's remotely accurate, I can see why consumers have turned their noses up at the initial round of Windows 8 offerings. For a majority of consumers, tablets do the things they need a computing device to do-- and they do them more intuitively and inexpensively than Win8 PCs.
To a heavy PC user, all this might sound silly-- but the people who typically read an IT-centric news site aren't the same people dictating market trends en masse. Those people used Windows in the past because it was the only option for many of them. Sure, there was always OS X, but Apple's machines are expensive, especially relative to the commodity PCs that, prior to Windows 8, dominated most of the budget-friendly personal computing price points. Some of these Windows users will stick with Microsoft because they like Windows. But others will drift to new options because, for the first time since the modern Redmond monopoly staked its ground, it's become practical and affordable to do so.