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11/30/2012
10:46 AM
Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
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5 Ways Microsoft Can Save Windows 8

Microsoft's new OS holds plenty of potential, but so far consumers aren't loving the radically redesigned desktop. Microsoft should consider these changes.

Windows 8: 8 Big Benefits For SMBs
Windows 8: 8 Big Benefits For SMBs
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Microsoft spent billions developing and marketing Windows 8, but by all accounts it's proving to be a tough sell. Consumers just aren't buying into the hybrid tablet/PC operating system. I've maintained all along that there's some great technology behind Windows 8, but Microsoft needs to do more to make it both user- and merchant-friendly.

Some background: Microsoft believes Windows 8 represents the best of both worlds -a full featured PC OS married to a touch-based UI geared toward tablets. That's great in theory, but many would-be purchasers are finding the combination confusing and difficult to use.

Microsoft has been mum on sales data, but considerable evidence has emerged over the past couple of weeks that Windows 8 systems aren't doing well at retail. The latest: an NPD report that sales of Windows-based systems are down 21% since Windows 8 debuted on Oct. 26, compared to the same period a year ago.

That's not good news for Microsoft. What follows are some steps the company could take to polish Windows 8 to make it more palatable to both users and stores that have to sell it.

1. Cut Prices

Microsoft needs to get realistic about how much consumers are willing to pay for a new, unproven platform, given the alternatives. The company introduced Surface RT starting at $499. For that amount, buyers could get the latest generation iPad.

Now, Microsoft will surely argue that Surface RT is superior -- you can run Office natively, for starters -- but that doesn't matter. The iPad is a megabrand. To compete with it, Redmond needs to take a page from Amazon's playbook and use its hardware as a loss leader to establish its platform. Kindle Fire HD 8.9" starts at $299, which would be about right for Surface RT.

2. Ship Surface Pro, ASAP

Microsoft made the inexplicable decision to keep its top-of-line Surface model off store shelves until after the holiday season. That may have been a concession to its PC OEM partners, who have shipped their own Intel Core-based Windows 8 systems in time for Christmas. But the decision is muddling the market.

[ Will Microsoft introduce more hardware products beyond Surface? CEO Steve Ballmer suggests it's likely. ]

Consumers can purchase Surface RT immediately, but if they want a Microsoft tablet that can run legacy Windows applications, they must wait. The quandary will undoubtedly push many to say "to heck it with it," and opt for an iPad or Android tablet. At the least, Microsoft needs to announce a specific launch date for Surface Pro. "Sometime in January" isn't good enough for those making buying decisions now. As for Surface Pro's starting price of $899? See above.

3. Get Appy

Microsoft now has more than 20,000 apps available for download from the Windows Store. But the number is meaningless. It's great that that there's Fruit Ninja and more than 300 photo apps, but serious omissions remain. Like, say, Facebook. Or Twitter. Or LinkedIn. The absence of the former is enough by itself to dissuade swaths of buyers whose primary use for a tablet is social networking. On the upside, the Windows Store is filling out with apps from leading brands. This week, ESPN released its Windows 8 app. Microsoft needs more of those.

4. Unify The User Experience

A major source of frustration voiced by early adopters of Windows 8 is the lack of consistency between Metro (or Modern UI) mode and the classic Windows desktop. Metro is what users see when they first boot up. It's got the Live Tiles and apps optimized for touch and tablets. From Metro, you can launch the Windows Explorer desktop, which is similar to Windows 7 (with some marked differences) and is geared toward mouse and keyboard computing.

It's understandable that there would be differences in how the two operate. But there's no good reason for the vast UI and performance gulfs between the Metro and Windows Explorer versions of the same applications. Take Internet Explorer 10. Even cosmetic differences -- like the fact that the navigation bar is on top in the desktop version and on the bottom in the Metro version -- are bound to flummox some users. But it's more than cosmetic.

On Thursday I tried to listen to the Webcast of Microsoft's annual shareholder meeting on IE10 Metro. "The site you opened is not on the Compatibility View (CV) list" is the response I got. Apparently IE10 Metro, Adobe Flash and Microsoft's own investor site don't play well together. I was able to get the Webcast from the desktop version of IE10.

5. Metro A Go Go?

If all else fails, Microsoft has one last, nuclear option, which I've previously suggested. It could ditch Metro, and introduce what I've been calling Windows 8 Classic. Windows 8 Classic would restore familiar features like the Start button and Task Bar, while retaining Windows 8's numerous new security and manageability features.

Among those is Secure Boot, a process designed to prevent malware from infecting computers during startup, even before Windows and all of its built-in safeguards are launched. It works by confirming that all components have the appropriate security certificates before they are allowed to launch. Secure Boot requires UEFI BIOS to run, which is only found on the newest PCs.

For companies that hire lots of consultants, contractors and other temps and need to give such personnel access to a corporate desktop image and apps without granting full server permissions, there's Windows To Go. It lets users boot a preconfigured, IT-certified Windows 8 image onto any laptop from a USB. It also lets them boot up a Windows 8 image on a Windows 7 PC. Metro notwithstanding, there's a lot more for enterprises to like about Windows 8.

But if the operating system and the devices on which it runs continue to languish, Microsoft will need to take bold steps to ensure it remains commercially viable. What do you think Microsoft should do to improve Windows 8? Let me know in the comments section below.

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Ks2 Problema
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Ks2 Problema,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2012 | 2:37:31 PM
re: 5 Ways Microsoft Can Save Windows 8
Microsoft ignored what consumers wanted and just about everything usability experts have taught us and created a confusing, inefficient mess.

Consumers didn't want an 'all new computing experience' -- they have better things to do than learn new and confusing ways of using the computers they already have on their desks at home and work.

But MS's board sent down the word to be more 'Apple-like' so we have the all-new MS where backwards compatibility and consumer satisfaction take a back seat to chasing the short-sighted and, for MS, unattainable, goal of Apple-like verticalization and customer exploitation and,of course, the bottom line: obscene profits.
dkooi430
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dkooi430,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2012 | 3:04:51 PM
re: 5 Ways Microsoft Can Save Windows 8
Windows 8 just isn't complete, the build-in mail application does not allow you to save an email to a folder, printing a pdf does not allow a range of page to select for printing and I am sure there a plenty of other things missing. I got a copy since it was only $38 and if you go back to desktop it is ok, just don't see the advantage of the tiles for a mouse only pc. If I want to relearn how to use a pc why stick with MS, might just as well start using Linux , which is free.
Lodmot
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Lodmot,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2012 | 3:18:09 PM
re: 5 Ways Microsoft Can Save Windows 8
I came up with a Windows 9 concept that tries to improve the UI without ditching Metro. What if they made something like this:
http://www.eightforums.com/chi...
misspeggysue
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misspeggysue,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2012 | 3:22:53 PM
re: 5 Ways Microsoft Can Save Windows 8
Little ole lady from the lake thinks the tile system looks old. I just don't like it. I've got used to my Kindles, and I have note 1 and 2. My laptop and PC have run windows since beginning of time. I adjust to the technology pretty well as a basic consumer. The big factor is price for me. And since most of the world is in my economic range I'd say the Amazon way is the best take the loss to get the product out there. You will make it up once it's in the consumers hands. And just let me tell you, I'm mad as a wet hen about the drop of Microsoft Reader. I like that app and it should have been transformed into an app that segwayed into a tablet format that transfered all your books. You HAD A MONEY Maker right there. Don't you think I might have bought a tablet running your system to keep track of my 100's of books that I already had on the MSR. Technology gotta love it. I've got 2 kindles and I'm intrested in the new one that is bigger and has wired service included. Nothing wrong with the two I have I LIKE the idea of the bigger newer one. So does that tell MS anything. I'm the consumer they are missing ME. How many others are they missing cause someone doesn't look at the REAL consumers of tablets. The business field will buy what works for there company or who has the biggest kickback to the buyer. I replace stuff cause it's broke or I like something way better and it's affordable. Analize all you want it just costing you $$$$$$$$$$$$$$
R.Atkinson
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R.Atkinson,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2012 | 3:23:49 PM
re: 5 Ways Microsoft Can Save Windows 8
I work in a gov't IT dept that supports 1500 highly educated, highly credentialed, medically trained users who are busy providing patient services non-stop. They just don't have the time, and certainly not the inclination, to again learn another interface just to do the same thing they were doing the day before with no problem. MS can and should make any and all security and other improvements under the hood, but the more major the interface changes the more major the setbacks to the users. Since MS Office introduced the ribbon, many of our users have just stopped using Office and do what they can in email only. If email can't handle it, they don't do it.
ANON1248407580884
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ANON1248407580884,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2012 | 3:38:49 PM
re: 5 Ways Microsoft Can Save Windows 8
Let's see. Microsoft now provides a panel with all your apps instead of a Start button. Yeah that's rough to learn.
Eddee
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Eddee,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2012 | 3:39:36 PM
re: 5 Ways Microsoft Can Save Windows 8
I also think they should find a better way to determine the upgrade process they currently have online, I have a net book which was running Win7, that I had purchased on March/2012.
I decided to see if my net book qualified for the Win8 upgrade at the discount price, the system they have checked my net book online and relates it qualified for an upgrade to Win8 Pro.
Delighted with the results, I immediately made the purchase to upgrade my OS, after the update, it was determined that my video card did not support the required video requirement of 1024x768, my computer only suports 1024x600, and therefore I am unable to use all the features of windows 8, and now am running a crippled version of Win 8, I also am unable to open any of those tiles getting the message, to adjust video display to 1024x768 to have the tile/program open properly.
llynn
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llynn,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2012 | 3:40:06 PM
re: 5 Ways Microsoft Can Save Windows 8
Windows 8 is NOT built and or made for a Desktop . This is strictly a tablet OS .
Microstupid once again showed us all that they could careless about what the consumer wants and they care ONLY for Insane Obscene ASTRONOMICAL Pofits .. which this time they willnot be getting because ANYONE who tried the beta on a desktop found out this ALL TABLET STYLE no one really cares for . Google has done it to gmail , you tube and all Google products , Microstupid & Yahoo are / have done the same . Its so flat and boring all over now.
Its like back to XP an OS with NO DEPTH .
The really stupid thing is we all have HD screens now so why on earth would we want to have a system that is so flat , blocky and boring .
Or is this just another way they TRY to do away with the PC ?
Another way of Tracking US all. All tablets have WIFI and GPS Pre-installed so.... well its really not too hard to see threw the BS .
I tried Windows 8's beta version I reinstalled Windows 7 within a week . its a very Confusing OS , For some non tech savvy people .. IT WILL JUST NEVER FLY !
I run all kinds of modified OS's on my desktop and my Galaxy Nexus .
So yes as a developer ..... I know the game they are going for .Microstupid You will never get me to get rid of my desktop !
As for what Microstupid has now done to HOTMAIL ... I wont even use it anymore and hate what Google did to gmail ..
GalacticCannibal
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GalacticCannibal,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2012 | 3:45:42 PM
re: 5 Ways Microsoft Can Save Windows 8
We installed Windows 8 BETA about six months ago . And found it totally confusing. And we sorely miss the START button and XP type format.
We use Dell and HP desktops. Hope that Microsoft will bring back the START button format or include it in their new TILE format.
We think Microsoft got it all wrong when they replaced their old XP and START button , with the Tablet and iPad systems
llynn
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llynn,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2012 | 3:55:26 PM
re: 5 Ways Microsoft Can Save Windows 8
I almost forgot MICROSTUPID..If people want tablet they can get one for less than $100 bucks and NOT have to deal with the CONSTANT Security Flaws in IE - Only the MOST Unsecure Browser there has EVER been.. and for some of us ... WE DO NOT WANT TO BE SIGNED IN TO EVERY SITE WE FREQUENT FROM BOOT ... Shhhhh Another sign of TRACKING YOUR EVERY MOVE !
Page 1 / 10   >   >>
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