Windows Blue may save Windows 8’s legacy
Microsoft has a real hit-and-miss history with operating systems. Windows 95 and 98 were hits, while Windows ME and Vista were both flops. Recently it’s been pretty cyclical, with a hit (XP) flop (Vista) hit (7) flop (8 – ok it’s too soon to call 8 a flop, but people are not accepting it nearly as well as 7 or even XP). So everyone’s hoping that Windows Blue (or 8.1 depending on who you talk to) will be a hit.
There’s some hints now that Microsoft is going to learn from its failures in 8. Ars Technica reports that Microsoft is at least now considering replacing the Start button that it did away with in Windows 8 and allowing users to boot straight to the desktop. This is one of the primary gripes users have had, myself included. When 8 came out and I had the chance to try it on an ultrabook, I found it very puzzling to use. Perhaps it’s because, like many Windows users, I’m accustomed to doing things a certain way even if that way is not the most efficient or easy way. If I want to open a program or go to the control panel, I know that I can go to the bottom left of the screen and click on a button that will help me do that. This usually involves drilling down through multiple menus but I’m OK with that as I’m used to it. But when faced with the Metro interface, I just stared at it. I didn’t know what to do. And then when I was able to get to the desktop I was really lost; things flew out of the sides that didn’t make much sense at the onset and again I just felt like I didn’t know how to do something simple.
Bringing back a more familiar experience while allowing users to choose how to fine-tune that experience further with enhancements like Metro would be a wise move on Microsoft’s part. Andrew Cunningham writes,
“Even if both the Start button and the boot-to-desktop option are disabled by default in the next major Windows update, restoring the option to use both without resorting to third-party utilities or hacks seems like a prudent move. In particular, businesses afraid of retraining costs or user backlash will likely appreciate the ability to take advantage of Windows 8’s under-the-hood enhancements and features without giving up a Windows 7-esque interface, to say nothing of people who are simply allergic to the new Start screen.”
Personally I would love to take advantage of some of the features of Metro if it could come in some other form than the default start screen. Incorporating live tiles onto the desktop seems like a no-brainer. However, we shouldn’t expect things to revert back to Windows 7; in whatever form Windows Blue takes it will still remain based on Windows 8’s interface.
Windows Blue is expected later this year.