Microsoft has been busy lately defending Window 8's honor, and for good reason. The din of user gripes, focused mostly on the new operating system's tile-oriented Modern interface, hasn't lessened much since Windows 8 launched last October. Industry analysts have dumped on the new OS too, claiming it bears some of the blame for weak PC sales worldwide.
But is Windows 8 really so bad? This won't come as a surprise, but Microsoft thinks it's pretty good, if you'll just give it a chance. The company recently confirmed that its Windows 8 update, code-named "Windows Blue," is slated for release later this year. A public preview of Windows Blue will debut at the Microsoft Build Developer Conference in San Francisco at the end of June.
Redmond is a bit less forthcoming about Windows Blue's new and updated features, which is the subject of the slideshow that follows. So what can we expect? "[Blue is] an opportunity for us to respond to the customer feedback that we've been closely listening to since the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT," said Tami Reller, chief marketing and financial officer of the Windows division, in a May 7th Q&A session with Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc. Well, perhaps "feedback" is a friendly word for "grievances."
Whatever the case, we'll find out in a few weeks just how responsive Microsoft is to Windows 8's critics.
Microsoft claims it has sold more than 100 million licenses for Windows 8, up from 60 million in January, and that there are now more than 2,400 certified Windows 8- and Windows RT-certified devices. And Windows 8's acceptance in the marketplace, in terms of license sales, is on par with that of Windows 7 after its debut, the company says. But as InformationWeek associate editor Michael Endler makes clear, there are many more PCs in the world today than when Windows 7 arrived at the end of 2009. To match its predecessor's market share growth, Windows 8 would need to sell significantly more licenses than Windows 7.
So is Windows doomed? Hardly. Even with the anti-Windows 8 uproar, there's no indication that enterprises are ditching the Windows platform. However, given that many businesses are still in the process of upgrading to Windows 7, there's a good chance they may bypass Windows 8 -- and perhaps even Windows Blue -- altogether and hold out for Windows 9. Consumers, however, may find iPads and Android tablets tempting alternatives to Windows-based laptops and tablets, and that has Microsoft worried.
Here are 8 things that Microsoft might fix in Windows Blue.