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Windows 8.1: RUN AWAY!

May 8th, 2013 - 12:16 pm

Hat tip to Toadold for forwarding news of big changes coming to Microsoft’s “incremental” Windows 8.1 release:

“Key aspects” of how the software is used will be changed when Microsoft releases an updated version of the operating system this year, Tami Reller, head of marketing and finance for the Windows business, said in an interview with the Financial Times. Referring to difficulties many users have had with mastering the software, she added: “The learning curve is definitely real.”

Analysts warned that changing course would be a significant admission of failure for Steve Ballmer, chief executive, who called the October launch of Windows 8 a “bet-the-company” moment as Microsoft sought to respond to the success of Apple’s iPad.

You don’t beat your competitors by copying them — weirdly. And consumers have responded, or not responded, appropriately. The 8.1 retreat isn’t exactly Bill Gates’ famous “Internet Tidal Wave” memo, but it is a slap in the face to Steve Ballmer.

Now the article does go on to praise Ballmer for at least (and I’d add: At last!) embracing risk-taking and innovation in Redmond. But Win8 specifically, and “Windows Everywhere” generally, have done nothing to help Microsoft in mobile, and might have actually hurt them on the desktop.

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Microsoft (or at least the executives) completely misunderstood what would make their customers happy. Tight integration of data and services between laptop and tablet is a good thing. But in their OS-centric thinking, MS decided that the UI was what really needed to be seamless across the different devices. Bad idea--they're different devices, used in different contexts.

They also completely missed an opportunity to smoke Apple. Bill Gates is right when he says a lot of people are frustrated with the iOS UI. The soft keyboard is execrable, and switching between apps has been kind of kludgy. Sure, people make the iPad work--but that doesn't mean it can't be beat. Getting back to their pen-centric roots might have been a good idea, doing something nifty with the soft keyboard would have been a good idea. Heck, given all the add-on keyboards and styli that I see while flying, it wasn't a bad idea to make that stuff a well-supported option. But making the keyboard a primary selling point was just not a good idea.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My issue with the iOS keyboard actually isn't that it's soft. On my Android tablet I'm using a third-party soft keyboard that I can configure to my liking -- giving me, for example, the full alphanumeric layout on one screen instead of making me switch to an alt layout for numerals.

I'd like to have the @ and # and a couple of other extended characters available there too, but it's way better than the iOS board.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

Exactly. Sorry, I wasn't clear on that. There's other soft keyboards that are better.

The iOS spell-assist also requires some getting used to. Or a hammer.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Stephen, did you see rumor of Microsoft buying Nook Media? On TechCrunch.

$1 billion assassination of another android platform. Nook ... Nokia ... what does Ballmer hate about the letter "N"?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So it's Microsoft that's running away from the bad decisions that went into Windows 8.0, and not us poor saps afflicted with Windows 8.0 who should run away from Windows 8.1?

Just checking. The post title made me think maybe the latter, which -- that would be pretty bad.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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