Windows 8 Has Been A Major Fail for Microsoft, So Now It Will Fix Everything It Botched And Make It Easier To Navigate And Customize.
Microsoft Corp is trying to fix what it got wrong with Window 8 and making the operating system easier to navigate and enabling users to set up the software so it starts in a more familiar format that it originally designed for personal computers.
Later this year, it will release a free update, called Windows 8.1, represents Microsoft's concessions to long-time customers taken aback by the dramatic changes to an operating system that had become a staple in households and offices around the world during the past 20 years.
Microsoft gave The Associated Press a glimpse at Windows 8.1 Wednesday. A more extensive tour of Windows 8.1 and several new applications built into the upgrade will be provided in San Francisco at a Microsoft conference for programmers scheduled to begin June 26.
With the release of Windows 8 seven months ago, Microsoft introduced a startup screen displaying applications in a mosaic of interactive tiles instead of static icons. The major design shift pissed off many users who wanted the option to launch the operating system in a mode that resembled the old setup.
Windows 8.1 will now provide that option, although Microsoft isn't bringing back the start menu. The old Start menu that could be found in the left-hand corner of a computer screen by clicking a Windows logo on all other versions of the operating system since 1995. The lack of a start button ranks among the biggest gripes about Windows 8, but not the only one.
The switch should ease the "cognitive dissonance" caused by Windows 8, said Antoine Leblond, who helps oversee the operating system's program management.
As with Windows 8, the search bar can found by pulling out a menu from the right side of a display screen. Rather than requiring a user to select a category, such as "files" or "apps," Windows 8.1 will make it possible to find just about anything available on the computer's hard drive or on the Web by just typing in a few words. For instance, a search for "John Wayne" might display biographical information about the late movie star pulled from the Web, a selection of photos and video and even songs she sang. Anyone who want to hear a particular song stored on the computer or play a specific game such as "Monopoly" will just need to type a title into the search box to gain access within seconds.
The redesigned search tool is meant to provide Windows 8.1 users with "pure power and instant entertainment," said Jensen Harris, Microsoft's director of user experience for the operating system.
Applications also can be found by sorting them by letter or category.
Other new features in Windows 8.1 include a built-in connection with Microsoft's online storage system, SkyDrive, to back up photos, music and program files; a lock-up screen that will display a slide show of a user's favorite pictures; larger and smaller interactive tiles than Windows 8 has; and a photo editor.
Windows 8 has been widely panned as a disappointment, even though Microsoft says it has licensed more than 60 million copies so far. International Data Corp. (a major research firm), blamed the redesigned operating system for worsening a decline in PC sales by confusing prospective buyers. Meanwhile, Windows 8 hasn't proven it's compelling enough to put a major dent in the popularity of Apple Inc.'s pioneering iPad or other tablets running on Google Inc.'s Android software.
Microsoft had better sets things right with this new update of Windows 8.1; because the outlook for the PC market keeps getting gloomier. IDC now expects PC shipments to fall by nearly 8 percent this year, worse than its previous forecast of a 1 percent dip. IDC also anticipates tablets will outsell laptop computers for the first time this year.
Tablets sales is now being driven largely by less expensive devices with 7- and 8-inch display screens, but Microsoft built Windows 8 to primarily to run on tablets with 10-inch to 12-inch screens; an oversight that Leblond said the company is addressing by ensuring Windows 8.1 works well on smaller devices.
If Windows 8.1 doesn't stimulate more sales of PCs and tablets running on the operating system, it could it could find itself falling from a leading technology company, to a follower and also ran.
|Windows 8.1 desktop will now feature the Start menu icon in the lower left corner|