Windows 8 is dead, long live Windows 8.1

Microsoft hoping to convert doubters by introducing classic features

An employee at a Microsoft store explains the Windows 8 operating system last year.

An employee at a Microsoft store explains the Windows 8 operating system last year.

 

With Microsoft announcing its flagship operating system is to restore “classic” Windows features and sort out some particularly annoying kinks you can’t help but get a sense of “déjà Vista”.

Six years on from the company’s last embarrassing climb-down, they’re hoping to convert the doubters by introducing Windows 8.1 following consistent customer complaints.

From its release date seven months ago, Windows 8 has been fighting usability criticisms, with PC and laptop customers in particular finding the tiled interface a struggle.

The disappearance of the Start button is where it begins and Microsoft has admitted that the “bet” it made on doing away with one of the most recognisable features of every Windows iteration to this point may not have been the wisest way to start the “generational leap forward” they were hoping to make.

It will be back but not as we know it, with the start or ‘tip’ button bringing you to the system’s Metro interface rather than traditional program menu. Released for free later this year, Windows 8.1 will also allow you to boot up directly to the desktop view.

Aimed squarely at the tablet market, even pinch to zoom functions on laptops didn’t really help in making Windows 8 easier to use and while Microsoft may claim that it’s licensed 60 million copies thus far, the blogposts and queries online regarding ‘downgrade rights’ to go back to Windows 7 have been noticeable.

It’s not all bad though, in fact as a tablet interface Windows 8 is actually quite nice to use. Indeed the climbdown over the start button et al shouldn’t be misconstrued as a complete, Vista-esque, admittance of defeat with new touch features promised.

“The response to Windows 8 has been substantial,” the blog announcing 8.1 said. That Microsoft listened to the poor reports in particular should be applauded, however it may take quite a lot of effort to win back those happy to have “downgraded” in recent months.

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