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Windows 8 Blues: Emergency Surgery Plan Revealed

By Oonagh Reidy | Wednesday | 08/05/2013

Press Re-Start: It sold 100M copies but a hurried makeover, codenamed 'Windows Blue' is imminent, will bring back the Start button, apparently.

"We recently surpassed the 100 Million Licenses Sold mark for Windows 8." said Tami Reller, Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer, in an interview published on a MS blog, overnight. 

This includes Windows 8 licenses on new tablet and PCs, as well as upgrades, and equates to 40 million more licenses that Microsoft has sold since January.  

However the big news that Microsoft top number cruncher confirmed the software giant plans to alter the new Windows 8 platform this year, after "customer feedback", codenamed 'Windows Blue'.

Believed to be called Windows 8.1, it is rumoured to bring back the Start button.

The much hyped Windows 8 'tiles' based touch platform was released in October last year, to the horror of millions of Microsoft loyalists who found familiar relics like the 'Start' button and interface were no longer in play. 

Other changes tipped by (unofficial) Windows Blue website are "customizable backgrounds for Modern UI on both phone/tablet/desktop, unification of Windows Phone Store and Windows Store, speed improvements, bug fixes and overhauls to the core apps included with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8."  

Analysts blamed Microsoft's Windows makeover for flagging PC sales which slumped 14% this year, as  tablets comprising mostly of iPads & Samsung Androids grew 150% to 50 million, emerge as new computing kings. 

"Unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market," said Bob O'Donnell, IDC analyst, claiming Microsoft's overhaul of the "familiar" Windows screen (including the removal of the Start button) has made PCs a less attractive alternative to tablets and other devices. 

Despite the Windows 8 release, the platform is currently struggling to gain traction in the touch-based tablet market, according to IDC. Recent figures show Microsoft sold under 1 million (900,000) Surface tablets and accounts for just 1.8% of the market, while under 4% of all tabs shipped ran Windows and RT platform in Q1, last. 

"Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market", O'Donnell warned last month.

And it looks like it just has. 

OK, so back to the mysterious Windows Blue. 

Here's what Reller had to say:

Windows Blue, believed to be known as 8.1, will be available later this year and "will deliver the latest new innovations across an increasingly broad array of form factors of all sizes, display, battery life and performance, while creating new opportunities for our ecosystem."

The Blue update is "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."

"We've also seen the number of certified devices for Windows 8 and Window RT grow to 2,400 devices, and we're seeing more and more touch devices in the mix." 

But the software king is still a newcomer to the market, so has time yet.

Reller also dismissed the notion of a dead PC market. 

"The PC is very much alive and increasingly mobile. The PC is also part of a much broader device market of tablets and PCs. Windows 8 was built to fully participate in this broader and increasingly mobile device market. The PC part of the market is rapidly evolving to include new convertible devices and amazing new touch laptops, and all-in-ones." 

It also has 250 million people using SkyDrive and 400 m Outlook users, she added. 

Commentators to the Microsoft blog had plenty to say about Microsoft Blue. 

"The Win 8 trouble was foreseeable. Why don't you ask your MVP's beforehand? And it was totally unnecessary. Seriously, you should - let's say - 'find a better suited job' for the guy responsible for the decision of removing (hiding) the old desktop and start menu," one said. 

Another added, "I would recommend that your company 'start' listening to your customers. I realize what you're trying create the same experience across devices, but it's clearly not working for many users. You need to give people the option of a windows 7/xp like experience." 

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