Microsoft to redesign Windows 8 as sales fall

It is thought that Microsoft are aiming to redesign Windows 8 after receiving customer feedback since it’s launch in February 2012. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said at the time that he was ‘betting the company’ on Windows 8, but sales have proved to be disappointing .

Steve Ballmer

Microsoft makes half its money from revenue on selling Windows licenses, but resources say that they have suffered their worst drop on record in the first three months of this year, down by 14%.

New users have described Windows 8 as “confusing” (or worse) and it is thought that Microsoft have plans to bring back the start button, which has been missed and familiar to users for 17 years, before it was removed from Windows 8.

The new updates to Windows 8, which is code-named Blue, are said to be a direct response to customer feedback in the last six months.

And Tami Reller, who was promoted to head Microsoft’s Windows division in place of former chief Steve Sinofsky in November, announced on an internal Microsoft blog to the Associated Press on Monday that Blue will be “an opportunity for us to respond to the customer feedback that we’ve been closely listening to” since the October launch. “Are there things that we can do to improve the experience? Absolutely. There is a learning curve [to Windows 8] and we can work to address that.”

New users appear not to like the lack of a start button, which is evident by the downloading of an app called Stardock, which allows the users to add the start button back on. Instead of the start button, Window 8 now features a set of tiles which lie over the traditional desktop, but users have found this new layout confusing.

Another popular app is ModernMix, which lets tile apps run on the old desktop. The blame game has already started with Bob O’Donnell of the research company IDC stating that it was Sinofsky’s fault: “At this point, 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. The costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices.”

There are some experts however that do not think we will see the return of the start button, although it is much missed by Microsoft users. Vice-president Michael Silver of Gartner, a rival research company says: “Microsoft didn’t listen to customers who were pointing [the start button problem] out in testing. They could have had a middle ground, but chose not to – I think Sinofsky made sure it was pretty difficult to make major changes if he didn’t want them.”

Sales figures are showing that the traditional desktops are declining with the rapid rise of tablets and smartphones overtaking them for the first time. Sales of tablet in the first quarter of 2013 hit 49.2m, overtaking desktop-based PCs, and smartphones have long passed that figure, having outsold PCs since the end of 2010. In fact , in developing countries they are fast becoming peoples’ first choice of computing device.

The co-founder and chairman of Microsoft – Bill Gates defended the company earlier this week saying: “It takes the benefits of a tablet and the benefits of a PC, and it’s able to support both of those – so if you have [Microsoft own-brand tablet] Surface, Surface Pro, you’ve got that portability of a tablet but the richness of a PC in terms of the keyboard, Microsoft Office of a PC,” he said. “Microsoft is trying to gain share in what has been dominated by the iPad-type device.”

Microsoft state that since the launch of Windows 8 six months ago, the company have sold 100m Windows 8 licenses, which is the same as Windows 7 at the same time in 2010. However, one change is that the business customers are buying Windows 8 licenses but actually installing the older Windows 7 package, so that they can keep the traditional start button.

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