With Windows 8, Microsoft has done everything it could do to kill off the Desktop. But now, after months of getting sometimes angry feedback, Microsoft has finally admitted that people want to use it. Will Windows Blue finally end Microsoft's anti-Desktop fixation?
Microsoft is in the midst of a Windows 8 publicity binge. As part of it, Tami Reller, Microsoft's Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer was interviewed in a Microsoft blog, in which she touted that Windows 8 has now surpassed 100 million licenses sold, up from 60 million in January, and said that there are now 2,400 devices certified to run Windows 8 and Windows RT.
Most of the interview was standard fare with standard answers about Windows 8 growth and the upcoming Windows Blue. The only hint that Microsoft might have something up its sleeve with Windows Blue was this statement from Reller:
"The Windows Blue update is also an opportunity for us to respond to the customer feedback that we've been closely listening to since the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT."
She didn't go beyond that, though. However, an interview with the New York Times provides more hints, and it appears that Microsoft has finally gotten the message that people are confused by Windows 8's dueling interfaces, and that they want to use the Desktop. The Times says that during the interview, Reller "revealed that Windows Blue will be released this calendar year and will include modifications that make the software easier to learn, especially for people running it on computers without touch screens." The newspaper quotes her as saying:
"The learning curve is real and needs to be addressed."
Reller told that times that Microsoft has changed the way it trained salespeople to sell Windows 8, with a focus on explaining that the Desktop is still part of the operating system. And she finally admitted, in a somewhat backhand way, that Microsoft's attempt to kill the Desktop has been misguided. She said:
"We started talking about the desktop as an app. But in reality, for PC buyers, the desktop is important."
How many millions of dollars and countless work hours have been devoted to finding out that simple, obvious fact? Given that the Desktop and its apps are where people get their work done, how could Microsoft have not known that from the beginning? Who decided that people didn't really care about the Desktop?
We'll never know the answer to those questions. But it's clear from her talk about Windows Blue responding to "customer feedback" that Windows 8 will likely do something to backtrack on its anti-Desktop fixation. Some reports say that Windows Blue will include a boot-to-the-Desktop option. Others say that it will bring back the Start button. Based on what I can tell so far, though, that Start button may not be the Start button that users of previous versions of Windows have known and loved. It may merely be a way to get back to the Start screen, which plenty of people want to get away from, not get to.
Still, it's good to see that Microsoft recognizes people are confused by Windows 8, and care about the Desktop. Now we'll have to wait and see if the company will truly fix the problem in Windows Blue.