Software // Operating Systems
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5/8/2013
07:19 PM
Mike Feibus
Mike Feibus
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Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?

Microsoft's Windows 8 update, Windows Blue, must give PC users a more familiar way to work. Microsoft used to manage transitions better -- instead of opening the door for its rivals.

8 Things Microsoft Could Do To Save Windows 8
8 Things Microsoft Could Do To Save Windows 8
(click image for slideshow)
For more than a month now, the unrelenting flood of news, gossip and opinion surrounding Windows 8 has been focused on Windows Blue, the code name for the upcoming Windows 8 refresh, and what it can do to repair the ailing PC platform.

This week, finally, Microsoft formally acknowledged Windows Blue and confirmed that the Windows 8 follow-on, which comes closer to a service release than an all-new Windows version, will make its way to the market by year's end.

Bloggers already have spent weeks combing through the various leaked builds of the upcoming refresh and exposing new features, performance enhancements and UI improvements. Company representatives haven't yet confirmed any of those discoveries, saying only that Microsoft has been listening closely to customer feedback and will be giving a full-on demonstration at Microsoft's Build 2013 developer conference at the end of June.

[ What else can Microsoft do to mollify Windows users? Windows Blue: Restoring The Start Button Isn't Enough. ]

The tech press has been fixated on discerning just how closely Microsoft has been listening. Indeed, it has written so much lately with so little to go on from Microsoft that the coverage has taken on the tenor of an Access Hollywood report before a Kardashian wedding.

I'm making light, but in many ways the onslaught of articles is justifiable. Certainly, it underscores just how much is riding on Windows Blue. With all the hype and glitz surrounding smartphones and tablets, it's easy to lose sight of how critical a role the PC still plays in many of our lives. No, it's not the same role it played last year, or the year before. But for many of us -- certainly for most of us in IT -- a Windows PC is still a go-to device in our quiver of electronics tools. And because of the pace of change in the enterprise segment, Windows is guaranteed to play a central role for several more years at least.

In that sense, Microsoft isn't just gambling its own fortunes. It's messing with how many of us get things done every day.

That's why the anger over Windows 8 has been so palpable, and why fixing it has become so important. Forcing us to take longer, more circuitous routes to what we do every day feels like starting breakfast one morning only to find that your roommate has rearranged the kitchen. The more often you reach for a fork in what's become the towel drawer, the angrier you get.

If Microsoft is really listening to customers, then Windows Blue will give users a way to do things the way they're used to. Microsoft understood that wisdom back in the early days of Windows, when it used a two-step process to woo Lotus users over to Excel. For years, Microsoft gave diehard Lotus fans their old menus and keystroke combos. So those users came over to Excel. And eventually, those users got to know Excel and they dropped their demands for Lotus commands.

In the same way, Microsoft needs to let customers do things the way they've always done them if it's ever going to engineer a successful migration to its Modern UI. Apparently, though, that institutional knowledge has been lost at Microsoft. When the incumbent forces customers to change in ways they don't want to, as Microsoft has been doing, it opens the doors to competition. Of course, the Mac is always welcoming frustrated Windows users. Some Linux bundlers, successful in the server space, increasingly are setting their sights on the PC client. And now Google is readying an assault on Windows' turf with a new generation of Chromebooks due out in the second half of the year.

A larger desktop tile on the Start screen, as Windows Blue reportedly has, won't placate long-time Windows users. Microsoft will have to give folks who have no use for tiles a way to work the way they do now. If Microsoft doesn't do this, users will keep seeing red -- until, eventually, this issue won't be important to them any more.

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AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2013 | 9:00:14 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
Oh well, things change... constantly. And, it's not just Microsoft. Ask any Google user how frustrated they are to see Google pull the plug on services that they have relied on for a long time.
The problem with gadgets (and plugins, addons, etc.) are that they have become a conduit for malware to penetrate and infect a PC. You can thank the criminal element for ruining things for the rest of us. So now, Microsoft is controlling app delivery (Modern apps) via their App Store, much like Apple is doing whereby they can vette software that is being installed on the Modern UI.
DAVIDINIL
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DAVIDINIL,
User Rank: Strategist
5/9/2013 | 8:21:07 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
I have tons of issues w/ Win 8. I had to do a youtube search and watch a video just to figure out how to launch wordpad. I will be typing in wordpad and the weather page suddenly appears. I'm sorry did I click on some weather button? No I did not.
I tried to put a new user account on my sons machine. I go thru all the screens (it wants my name, address, email, phone #). I hit enter and find out that the machine couldn't communicate w/ a server in Redmond. So I could not establish a user account on my own machine. Nice.
I am not a luddite. I loved Win 7 from the get go. Win 8 is simply unusable for the reasons I posted and many others that wouldn't fit in this comment box.
bperrin34601
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bperrin34601,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2013 | 8:19:38 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
It is refreshing to see some of the people who actually use Windows 8 responding to the ongoing diatribe about how terrible Windows 8 is and how Microsoft missed the boat. I have used, in a production environment, Windows 8 since it was first released to the developer community. The early days were challenging and the "Metro" interface was fraught with hiccups, but, the full release last November has been a joy to work with. I find my productivity has risen two to three fold. Incidentally, I do not have a touch screen and I use the Start Screen all the time. I often wonder why people complain about the lack of a Start Button. There it is in two locations on the keyboard. The number of other shortcuts that Microsoft has provided us with is significant and, although I do not use them all, the ones I use regularly have made my life a whole lot easier.Thank you sbacerra456, AustinIT and Somedude8 for a little balance.
stoenniessen025
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stoenniessen025,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2013 | 7:14:56 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
Half of corporate users are still migrating to Windows 7 - and what do they see when they click to add a desktop gadget from the internet? A message from Microsoft declaring gadgets discontinued. Imagine how frustrating that is to people.
They need to: A) let Windows be configured to run in full blown desktop mode by booting into it and having the start menu back; B) bring back support for sidebar gadgets - AT LEAST put the links back on their web site to the legacy stuff if they don't want to develop new ones although they should at least continue to support the Office/Lync/Outlook related gadgets; C) give us Aero mode back. Aero mode hasn't been around long enough for it to go out of style - the new flat look is too much like XP which is what most people are coming from.
That said, I think they got it right with the Modern UI for use on phones, tablets and touch screens. The keyboard/mouse is still a productive way to work, though, and, in many situation superior to touch. It needs to be accomodated better than in Win8.
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2013 | 7:05:44 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
The Start button and menu are making a return in Blue. That along with the ability to boot / login straight to the traditional desktop (which btw is Win7 improved). This info has already been confirmed.
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2013 | 7:02:47 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
You can still buy Win7. Heck, you can still get WinXP if you want it.

Microsoft has always been very conscious of backward compatibility. Both hardware and software. They have to because of the huge investment made by businesses in the ecosystem. Speaking of ecosystems, Microsoft is playing in a wide open field (as opposed to Apple) that allows many companies to develop and compete. It's one of those situations that is good new bad news. The good news is that it fosters innovation via third parties. The bad news is that MS usually gets the blame when some third parties develop crappy products. This open ecosystem is also an albatrose that slows down the pace of innovation on the OS platform - which is why we have seen such long runs between new OS releases. This is finally beginning to change with Win8.

Finally, all of their OS's support the x86 and x64 chipsets. And, now, the ARM chipset with Win8RT. So, no, Microsoft is not becoming Apple in that respect.
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
5/9/2013 | 6:43:56 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
We do appear to have some serious denial here (as with Vista). It's clear that there are lots of Windows users that are unhappy with what MS has put out, and MS has to listen to them if it wants to keep them. There are viable alternatives to Windows that lots of people know about and like (unlike in the 1990s), so it behooves MS to act accordingly.

MS probably doesn't need to listen to "ABMers" like me, but they really should listen to their users.
ANON1242271438356
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ANON1242271438356,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2013 | 6:40:24 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
Win 8 appears to have been made for the masses that consume data. It works for that. But what about those of us who create content? It just isn't efficient. Another person commented on problems using multiple monitors - that's a problem! Win 8 is a great OS - underneath the UI - so simply create 2 UI's - one for touch devices and one for mouse/keyboard input. Yes, it will reduce some traffic to the online store, but leaving it like it is now will reduce bottom line profits for MS much more.
MyW0r1d
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MyW0r1d,
User Rank: Strategist
5/9/2013 | 6:26:00 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
Take away the possibility to use sensationalist speech from the journalists and bloggers and who would read their stuff. Got to play the game, drive interest to sell your product.
sbacerra456
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sbacerra456,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2013 | 6:23:42 PM
re: Windows 8 Users See Red: Is Microsoft Listening?
There may be those who don't like Windows 8, but I am not one of them. MY hope is that Microsoft doesn't change too much of Windows 8 in Windows Blue. I do think, however, that, for traditionalists, it would be helpful for them to do one major thing: place a start button on the Desktop. It's not necessary on Metro. Yeah, there are still a few other tweaks that I would like to see (such as using the snipping tool in Metro), but they are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things. Maybe Microsoft should support Windows 7 AND 8 (and the upcoming "Blue"), so that people can choose and use the OS that works best for them. By the way... My laptop is not a touch screen, but I can do all the same gestures on my enlarged touchpad, and I LOVE that! Who wants sore arms reaching out to touch their laptop screen all day, anyway?
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