Microsoft stock is up, but Windows is 'Blue'

The new Microsoft Surface tablet on display.

When Microsoft unveiled Windows 8, many developers liked it. They were apparently alone.

“The vast majority of those we’ve interviewed -- small businesses, institutions, small businesses, are frustrated by it,” says Richard Doherty, an analyst with tech consulting firm Envisioneering

When Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer Tami Reller announced in a blog post that Windows 8 would get a serious update, details were scarce. 

Some believe the Start button may come back -- the familiar alpha and omega portal for Windows users had disappeared in Windows 8. Despite praise from programmers and developers for the new operating system, consumer familiarity in the digital age is not to be underestimated.

“When Coke introduced New Coke it just lasted weeks when Coke realized ‘well, the old formula is what people want,’” says Doherty. “Microsoft has maybe north of a billion active computer users in the world, 40 percent of those are  still on XP.”

But Carolina Milanesi with Gartner research doesn’t see the update as an admission of failure.

“People are thinking that Windows Blue is fixing something wrong, but I see it as an evolution,” she says.

As for the Start button, “from a desktop perspective there are business users who want to go back to the Start button because that’s what they’ve known all their lives. If you live in the desktop mode, that’s what users have been asking for.”

But non-business consumers, says Milanesi, have already shown they can adapt by embracing the tablet and even the smartphone. “If you're staying in the new user interface where tiles are the mode, you don’t need the Start button.” 

That is where Milanesi says the Windows Blue update will cash in. One thing that is known, she says, is that it will allow Windows 8 to run on smaller tablets, improving Microsoft’s presence in the tablet market.

Prior to the update, Microsoft wouldn’t allow device makers to build Windows devices smaller than 10 inches, says Milanesi.  “With the update, that requirement goes away.”

And so does a roadblock for Microsoft moving into the tablet space.

“Consumers that don’t want to create lots of content see that form as ideal -- they can put it int heir pocket, they can put it anywhere,” says Milanesi.

Whatever the update has in store, Richard Doherty points out, consumers don’t really have a choice. He says Microsoft is only selling Windows 8 now.

About the author

Sabri Ben-Achour is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the New York City bureau. He covers Wall Street, finance, and anything New York and money related.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...