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4/17/2013
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Jeff Bertolucci
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8 Ways Microsoft Could Save Windows 8

Windows 8's coming-out party was a bust. How should Microsoft revive its flagging Windows franchise?
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Microsoft's bold new Windows 8 has been a bust so far. Featuring a radical makeover -- the first truly new interface since Windows 95 arrived nearly two decades ago -- Windows 8 isn't exactly inspiring consumer or enterprise users to upgrade from earlier versions. Nor is it spurring them to buy new PCs. According to IDC, worldwide PC shipments in the first quarter of 2013 fell nearly 14% from the same period a year ago -- the biggest decline since the research firm began tracking PC sales in 1994. And if you think IDC's math might be bad, think again; Gartner pegged the sales drop at a slightly-less dreadful 11.2%.

Windows 8 isn't solely to blame for lagging PC sales, but it doesn't seem to be helping, either. Its anemic launch contrasts greatly with Windows 7's debut, which boosted third-quarter 2009 sales of Windows PCs by 49% year over year, according to The NPD Group.

So is Windows 8 really that unappealing, or are other factors to blame? To be fair, PC sales likely would have lagged anyway, with or without Windows 8. Consumers are flocking to tablets, a market that Windows' new touch-oriented Modern UI is designed to infiltrate, and one where Microsoft is conspicuously absent. Rather than replace or upgrade their old Windows PCs, people are snapping up iPads and Android slates for entertainment, email and Web browsing.

As for enterprise users, they're in the process of upgrading to Windows 7, which retains the traditional desktop user interface and is less expensive than Windows 8, particularly when you add in the cost of retraining staff to use the latter's new interface.

Microsoft, it seems, has a dilemma on its hands. The market is unhappy with Windows 8, which is better suited to multi-touch tablets than mouse-and-keyboard PCs. The addition of touchscreens to laptops and desktop PCs could help Windows 8's chances, but it's unclear how touch would improve the traditional computing experience, particularly for business users who spend most of their day inside Excel spreadsheets and Word documents.

The next Windows upgrade will be telling. Will Microsoft stay the course and continue to tinker with the Modern UI, hoping that its sizable customer base sees the virtue of Windows' new look and feel? Will it bring back the old Windows 7-style desktop, at least for PCs? Or will it drop the old interface entirely and force its customers to adopt the Windows 8's Modern UI, warts and all?

Our slideshow explores eight steps that Microsoft could take to revive its flagging Windows franchise. What do you think Microsoft should do? Add your take below.

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toothie007
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toothie007,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/19/2013 | 3:44:47 PM
re: 8 Ways Microsoft Could Save Windows 8
In other words, Microsoft should forever ensure that Windows look like it did in 1995. God knows, as people we are too dumb to cope with even the simplest of changes. We can cope with all kind of technological advancements in automobiles for example, but some simple changes to an operating system, that is way too much. I cannot for the life of me see what is so difficult about using Windows 8. Microsoft should also let the tech media decide what it should or shouldn't do for they are that talented.
Greenleaf
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Greenleaf,
User Rank: Strategist
4/19/2013 | 3:51:49 PM
re: 8 Ways Microsoft Could Save Windows 8
But why make a UI which people don't like? What is Microsoft logic for doing this? Is this Microsofts new policy? Does Microsoft think that it is funny that they can have their will with us even if we don't like it? Does Microsoft hate us? Why are they insisting on yanking us around on a chain?

There have been no changes to the User Interface to cars. The steering wheel was not removed. Nor was the rear view mirror. Car manufactures change the engine to run on electric. They filter the exhaust. Microsoft changed they way that people interface with it. Why ??? They can give us a new faster OS which uses less power and a different chip set but why mess with the way we use it? What could have possibly of been their reasoning? This absolutely makes no sense !!!
quadibloc
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quadibloc,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/19/2013 | 3:55:41 PM
re: 8 Ways Microsoft Could Save Windows 8
Bring back the Start button, or add more visual cues to the Metro UI. A desktop PC is not a tablet, and should have a UI suited to the needs of its users, not to Microsoft's marketing strategy.

The real solution would be for the government to step in with a hammer, and turn operating systems with the Microsoft Windows API into commodity products, so that the market would be a fiercely competitive one that would work to the advantage of consumers.
mmuzzy
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mmuzzy,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/19/2013 | 3:58:29 PM
re: 8 Ways Microsoft Could Save Windows 8
In other words, if people don't agree with you they're dumb. Ok. Not everything needs to change for the sake of change.

No folders in the Start screen, clicking an app and going to the desktop anyway, no clear path to tasks such as shutdown, etc. Do I think Windows 8 is hard? No. Do I like using it? Not even remotely.

Hey, the shape of tires hasn't changed in a long time... we should make them square too even if no one else thinks it's a good idea. Don't like it? You must be stupid then. /s
AndrewX
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AndrewX,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/19/2013 | 4:11:01 PM
re: 8 Ways Microsoft Could Save Windows 8
I got to the fourth slide, and having the entire page reload (slowly) every time you click to the next picture is just too much. How does a tech magazine get away with having such a dreadfully designed page? Not to mention, 3 out of the 4 slides I did see all said basically the same thing: "Bring back the old start menu/desktop." Not worth suffering through this drivel to finish.
NPCO
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NPCO,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/19/2013 | 4:12:31 PM
re: 8 Ways Microsoft Could Save Windows 8
Wow, some really weak arguments in this article:

"For instance, the ARM-based Windows RT operating system looks identical to Windows 8, but it won't run legacy Windows software. But Windows 8 does. Who has the time to learn the difference?"

Well, there it is right there. RT doesn't run legacy apps, Windows 8 does. Yea, who has the 3.65 seconds it takes to learn that?

"Microsoft ignores its critics and doubles down on the Modern UI. Via generous financial incentives, Microsoft sways developers to stock the Windows Store with plenty of multi-touch apps"

Yea, as if Microsoft could, in any possible way, convince every developer of every Windows application to magically create Modern UI versions... magically overnight. And this says nothing about the absolute infeasibility of actually making touch-friendly interfaces for the overwhelming majority of Windows applications. Do you really think a finger operated versions of Photoshop, Dreamweaver, InDesign or any of Adobe's other programs would be beneficial to users? How about AutoCAD? Do you really think architects and engineers want to design structures with their fingers? How about development tools, like Microsoft's own. Do you really think programmers want to program with on-screen keyboards and swipe gestures? The answers to all these questions is - NO. Touch is nice for simplistic tasks, but has absolutely no place in so many areas that loosing a desktop mouse/keyboard driven interface is patently absurd.
Doc Blair
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Doc Blair,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/19/2013 | 4:22:51 PM
re: 8 Ways Microsoft Could Save Windows 8
Microsoft's move into the new era of clouds, integration, unification, and replication is nothing more than a sign of times for them. As Apple, IBM, Oracle, Cisco, Dell, Samsung, Sony, Google, all innovate on top of innovation, it is obvious that MS is attempting to build fluid a light weight interface that is symmetrical across all devices. This is new to them as well as all others in the game. But the cut throat competitive market and diversity in thinking will never allow this to happen. The result will always be good and bad.

It is actually pretty simple for a technical individual that has seen and experienced many platforms to go with the tide. In contrast, it is also very difficult for an individual that only uses a device for social or feel good experience.

Streamlining interfaces are just as critical to efficiency of the overall technical interaction as it is for the individual instance of one device.

Take some time to delve into the inner workings of the new interface and you will find that it really is no different but it adds an additional layer to integrate. Just as a social interface brings all together in one portal, The big guys are looking to bring your devices together as one within the constraints of technological capabilities.
Ali Al-Mozaini
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Ali Al-Mozaini,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/19/2013 | 4:47:45 PM
re: 8 Ways Microsoft Could Save Windows 8
Exactly. This article is just as badly put together as Windows 8.
glenn817
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glenn817,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/19/2013 | 5:11:21 PM
re: 8 Ways Microsoft Could Save Windows 8
Obviously, I think Microsoft wants us to like the UI (I for one do). The truth is, they changed it not to piss us off, but due to competitive pressure and the changing computing landscape. Ultimately, it benefits MSFT over the long term to insist on this change.

The car analogy (nor others I see here) isn't really apt, because it isn't like there are other companies introducing competing products with different approaches, like we see in the tablet/mobile space.

This is really no different than when MSFT transitioned from DOS to Windows. The mouse was far slower than keystrokes, and a lot of training had to go into teaching people to use a mouse, but who would go back to that?

My take only, I appreciate your frustration.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
4/19/2013 | 5:13:26 PM
re: 8 Ways Microsoft Could Save Windows 8
Microsoft saw 100s of millions upgrading to Win8 with the opportunity to sell them all stuff via the Metro UI with the App Store, cutting off Win7. Greed pure and simple. Only problem is the purely touch screen UI doesn't work well with those using XP/Win7 non-touch screen devices so the expectation of upgrades was unfounded. Apple doesn't use the same OS on the iMac as the iPhone/iPad, something Microsoft over looked.
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