The most recent numbers show PC sales dropping like a rock, with many blaming the radical changes in Windows 8 for scaring away customers. A new rumor suggests the drop has prompted Microsoft to consider reversing course on at least one aspect of the new user interface.
Microsoft may introduce a “Boot to Desktop” mode in the next major update to Windows, called either Windows 8.1 or Windows Blue, according to a post on WinBeta. A version of the update leaked out last month, and someone who examined the code discovered that it includes a line of code for suppressing the Start screen.
Even before Windows 8 launched last October, many felt that throwing users into the new Windows UI at startup might not be the best solution for all customers, particularly those focused on productivity (i.e. office workers). Also, since the number of apps created for the new environment was relatively few (even the new Microsoft Office runs as a Desktop app), the benefits of always starting in the new UI were questionable.
So much for trying to be revolutionary with Win 8. I’m not surprised there’s so much push-back against the at-start-UI. What’s telling is that even Microsoft Office (I’m guessing 13?) runs as a desktop app. Kim and I had a related conversation just yesterday about the ribbon that replaced menus in Office 7 — she hates it, and I love it. She’s a savvy user, and dislikes having been forced down the ribbon road. I love it as I was indoctrinated over the past couple of years due to my job, and I buy into the reasons behind the redesign. But for many people, the ribbon is only grudgingly accepted given that the menus were completely removed.
Having not even played with Win 8 yet and only having seen it on television, I can understand why it’s really angering users. Change needs to be gradual; users just don’t like it. After all the various disastrous iterations of Window over the years (Millenium and Vista spring readily to mind), how is it Microsoft hasn’t caught on yet?
I think the answer this time around is simple: They see Apple carving out a huge chunk of real estate in the tablet market, and they want in. That’s all well and good if they continue to offer a traditional desktop look and feel for Windows, at least for now. It seems someone at Redmond finally realized that.