Microsoft took pains to point out that Windows 8 was a success, during its press conference at the start of MWC 2014 in Barcelona.
With more than 200 million licenses sold, Windows 8 has a larger market share than all versions of Apples OS X combined. However, Microsoft also admitted that customer satisfaction surveys from users with non-touch devices, such as traditional PCs and laptops, showed they were less happy with Windows 8 than with its predecessor.
The admission that Microsoft did not think enough about the millions of traditional mouse and keyboard PC users when implementing the tile interface on Windows 8 was long awaited, and many will say that it has taken too long for the software giant to fix the issue. “We tried to acknowledge that things had changed with Windows 8. Mobile, cloud and touch had changed things. Touch UI was a big decision for Microsoft” said Jim Belfiore, VP of Operating Systems.
The next Windows 8.1 update which is set to appear this Spring will seek to directly resolve many of these issues. “People weren’t aware where to look at for certain elements of the UI” which is why “We’re investing in a bunch of improvements to improve the non-touch experience” explained Belfiore.
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These changes will include discoverable search, power and settings on start as well as a new mouse UI with right-click options and the ability to close apps. Finally the Windows 8.1 update will include easy app launching and switching via the taskbar and the ability to easily get back to desktop from fullscreen apps like the Windows Store.
Microsoft didn’t go as far as admitting it had got it wrong by removing the start menu and it is still very much behind touch as a user interface “We love touch – none of the work we’re do has anything to do with degrading of the touch experience but we think we can improve the mouse and keyboard users” said Belfiore.
Whether the Windows 8.1 update appeases the many frustrated PC users remains to be seen.