If you haven't heard already, Microsoft plans on bringing back the Start menu in the upcoming Windows Threshold update - which could possibly be Windows 8.2 or Windows 9 – but I digress. On top of the Start menu return, we will also see the ability to run Metro/Modern apps on the desktop – similar to a “windowed” application.
Now, this begs the question. Why is Microsoft electing to bring back these two core features which have been a part of Windows since prior to Windows 8? Is it because Windows 8 was a flop and Microsoft recognized they needed to go back to their roots, or is it due to consumer feedback and the ideology of further blurring the line between mouse/keyboard and touch? I believe its the latter.
Spoiler alert: Windows 8 was not a "flop" but simply the first step.
A report over at ComputerWorld argues that Microsoft “recognized” the blunder it made with Windows 8 and is now trying to fix it – as PC sales are plummeting. We disagree.
On the topic of PC sales, of course sales are going to plummet. In this day and age, its all about the smartphone and tablet device. IDC has even predicted that PC shipments will decline by 10.1% by the end of this year. "While IDC research finds that the PC still remains the primary computing device – for example, PCs are used more hours per day than tablets or phones – PC usage is nonetheless declining each year as more [tablet and phone] devices become available,” IDC notes.
In my opinion, PC sales are shrinking not because of Windows but because of the increased interest in mobile/portable devices. I’m going to “pull a Gartner” here and claim that in a few years from now, PC sales are going to be worse off, as tablet/phablet/smartphone sales are through the roof.
Now, back to the topic of Windows 8 being a “blunder” or a "flop." Microsoft took a bold step in designing and releasing Windows 8 back in 2012 – along with a Windows Store to create new revenue opportunities for developers. Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system has been controversial since its inception, with some consumers loving the touch-centric change while some consumers believing the operating system was a step towards the wrong direction.
Microsoft listened to consumer feedback and rolled out a big update called Windows 8.1, a year after the release of Windows 8. This was Microsoft’s further attempt and making Windows 8 a better operating system for both desktops and tablets.
Let’s look at the stats for a second. According to data from NetApplications, Windows 8 holds a market share of 6.66% while Windows 8.1 holds a share of 2.64% as of November 2013. This gives Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 a combined share of 9.30%. Windows 7 may still dominate in market share at this time, but Windows 8/8.1 is seeing a steady increase in share as the months go by. This brings us back to our original question – was Windows 8 a failure?
Simply put, no. When you make a radical leap into a new direction, you can't expect everything to be perfect at first. There will be flaws along the way. Microsoft has indeed stepped into the right direction with Windows 8 – but more importantly, Microsoft has listened to consumer feedback. That is the key.
Windows 8/8.1 has been seeing a steady increase in share, but is overshadowed by Windows 7. In my opinion, those on Windows 7 are seeing no incentive to upgrade their PCs to Windows 8/8.1. PC sales are declining as tablet/smartphone sales are increasing - this means Microsoft really needs to focus on the mobile front with a better operating system that competes against Android and iOS.
"When you make a radical leap into a new direction, you can't expect everything to be perfect at first."
Windows Threshold – which could be called Windows 8.2 or even Windows 9 – takes things a step further with further refinements based on feedback. The return of the Start menu and the addition of “windowed” apps is sure to be a welcomed feature for Windows lovers, perhaps even making things a tad bit familiar for those on a tablet/phablet device. There are even rumors of a combined Windows RT and Windows Phone operating system, which will further benefit Microsoft on the mobile front.
Some people love change, some people hate change. Either way, having familiar features return to a brand new operating system will surely make a technical support guy’s life (for example) a whole heck of a lot easier.
Windows is still the king of operating systems. Nothing will ever truly replace the power and benefit of the PC, especially in the enterprise sector. Windows 8, on the other hand, wasn’t a blunder. Microsoft took off with a new approach and is still fine-tuning it to this day. Microsoft is adding some old features to make things easier for those on the desktop and we are sure we will see some new features for those on the mobile/portable front. Give it some time, and maybe the haters will like Windows 8 again – perhaps by that time it will be called Windows 9.
Now, before you write your hate mail directed towards me, this is just my opinion. Some of you will agree and some will disagree. That's why we have a comments section below. Lets hear what you think!