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Analyst: Win8 Users Want Desktop, Start Button Back

March 11th, 2013 - 10:35 am

Interesting article from Brooke Crothers needs a fairly lengthy excerpt, but it’s worth your time:

During a conversation I had this week with IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell, he volunteered the following statement, which sounded strangely like my experience.

There were certain decisions that Microsoft made that were in retrospect flawed. Notably not allowing people to boot into desktop mode and taking away the start button. Those two things have come up consistently. We’ve done some research and people miss that.

And there are a lot of people that as soon as they boot into Windows 8, they go to desktop mode and do most their work there and occasionally back to Metro. But the point being they’re much more comfortable with desktop mode.

Bingo.

I understand that this issue has been around since Windows 8 beta. And, yes, there are ways to boot to desktop mode and apps for getting the Windows Start button back. I’m not writing this to whine about how hard Windows 8 is to use. It’s not — for me.

But Windows 8 PC sales are “horribly stalled,” as O’Donnell put it. So maybe Microsoft should rethink the design, as IDC — whose business it is to get input from PC makers — thinks the company may be doing.

“It’s possible [Microsoft] is making changes to the OS [to allow a boot to desktop mode]. There’s a lot of debate about it. Certainly if you talk to PC vendors, they’d like to see Microsoft do that. Because they recognize some of the challenges that consumers are facing.”

I can’t find fault with anything either gentleman has to say. Win8 has a pretty steep learning curve for non-techy users, and IT departments seem to mostly hate it, at least based on the feedback I get here at VP. But there might be a deeper problem, as well.

It’s my feeling that what might bother users the most is that a single operating system has two operating modes. There’s the classic Desktop everybody knows and loves (or at least tolerates). And then there’s the new-and-maybe-not-so-improved Mode Formerly Known As Metro. You don’t have to use MoFKAM — unless you’ve bought a newer app through Microsoft’s app store. All those must operate in MoFKAM and nothing but MoFKAM.

You can always use MoFKAM, even if you hate it. But you can only mostly use Desktop, even if you hate MoFKAM. This is a hassle people just shouldn’t have to put up with. Modes are a mistake.

When Apple switched from OS 9 to OS X, they forced users into a similar situation. Old apps operated in Classic Environment. Classic and X apps could work side-by-side on the same desktop, but it was far from an ideal situation. What MS has done with Win8 is even clumsier than that. Fortunately for Apple, their user base was tiny and fiercely devoted — fewer people to annoy, and they were more willing to put up with annoyances. Through no fault of their own, Microsoft enjoys neither luxury.

Just a few years later, Apple switched from running on Power PC processors to completely-incompatible Intel CPUs. Thanks to emulation built into the first Intel editions of OS X, the process of running Power PC apps was invisible. The older apps loaded and ran slower, but the emulation process was invisible. Maybe something this is what MS needs to do to “fix” Win8.

There are third-party Win8 add-ons to help users get back that classic Windows 7 look and feel — but if it doesn’t come from Microsoft, most users will never install it, or never know it exists. That’s a problem from an OS with the width and depth of the Windows user base.

The problem seems to stem — again! — from Steve Ballmer’s “Windows Everywhere” strategy of shoehorning a semi-touch OS into every imaginable device. But instead of “no compromises,” the end product is a series of bad compromises — when it was smart compromises that should have been made.

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All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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$200 for an upgrade to Win8 Pro is outrageous. They can keep it. Kind of like that $300 price tag that was on Win7 Ultimate.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My wife and I both upgraded to OS X Mountain Lion for $29. Total, not apiece.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You can't beat that. I'd go with an iMac or Mac Pro at this point, but it's just too expensive (I'd want a 27" loaded iMac). Plus, I have a pretty nice machine that I've built and upgraded over time that is still more than adequate. Although the idea of using Thunderbolt to join my 2 27" screens to the iMac for a triple display is tempting.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There's expensive and there's expensive. The obvious rejoinder to the oft-stated claim that Macs are expensive is "compared to what?" Sure, compared to the dreary rubbish from the big-box stores that decomposes in a few months, Macs are indeed pricey - but you really do get what you pay for.

Still, even I have to admit that my shiny new retina-based MacBook Pro costs 4 times as much as the Lenovo Twist I bought to try out as a 2nd-generation Win8 daily driver (replacing an Asus B121). Against that, it's infinitely more powerful and capable, and its 15" retina display is so superior to the 12" touch panel on the Lenovo as to be laughable.

However, don't rule out that Mac Pro just yet - take a look at these guys (http://www.macofalltrades.com). If you know what you're looking for, you can save a fortune over new. I've recommended them to several of my friends who've been very satisfied.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
OK, we have scientific, researched proof that IT Depts, and "power" users hate Metro. But what about the casual users? People like my mom, who it never dawned on to plug her iPhone into the computer to update it. What do they think of Metro? Do they even "think" of Metro?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have a couple of Windows games on the Metro mode that I like to play now and again, but if I could have the non-Metro versions back I would be able to forget Metro existed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I had to buy a Windoze 8 machine over the weekend in order to run a Windows-only piece of software. Windoze 8 has the worst user interface that I have ever experienced in a computing environment, and I go back to batch processing on an IBM 7072 in the mid '60s. Punch card made more sense.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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