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Microsoft's Inevitable Windows 8 Surrender

While the vision for Windows 8 was to create an operating system that would be as functional on a tablet as it would be on a PC, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) has been flooded with complaints since the new OS was introduced last fall. Less than a year later, the company is conceding that it made some real mistakes with the most recent refresh and is addressing them.

Critics of Mr. Softy will celebrate the move as a victory against Microsoft, rather than seeing it as a shrewd decision by Microsoft. The real news is that Windows 8 is getting better -- one of many reasons to consider adding the stock to your portfolio at current levels.

Source: Microsoft.

Return of the Start menu
Just as Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) has its "Home" button and others their own signature bit of functionality, the Start menu has been a part of the Windows operating system for decades. It's one of the most fundamental parts of Windows, not only from a practical perspective, but also in giving users a sense of ease as they transition from one version to the next. The Start menu has long been where you go to do just about everything, and where you turn when you've exhausted all other options.

With the introduction of Windows 8, Microsoft switched to active tiles that more closely mirrored the apps you're used to seeing in a smartphone OS. This was intentional so that the system would make sense on a tablet and the overall user experience would be similar across devices. To use the Apple example once again, the iPad has the same Home button as the iPhone, making several iPad functions intuitive to anyone familiar with the iconic smartphone design.

The problem that Microsoft faced was that it was trying to operate at the bleeding edge between the realm of the PC and the realm of mobile devices -- there were bound to be some missteps. To get PC users to accept Windows 8 as a mobile OS, it needed to have a more app-driven feel. To get mobile-device users to accept Windows 8 as a PC OS, it needed to hold on to some of the ergonomics people had come to expect. The death of the Start menu was a step too far removed from the familiar PC layout for people to accept. And so they complained, and Microsoft heard them and changed.

Not the Apple way
While all of us have grown somewhat accustomed to the Apple way -- letting the design gods of Cupertino show us the path to enlightened design wisdom, Microsoft has never been purely proactive. Apple's designs have set it apart and redefined many of the products that the company makes; those designers have been well rewarded for their efforts -- interestingly, recent reports suggest that the next iPhone refresh will be along the lines of some current Microsoft designs rather than the classic Steve Jobs conceptions. Apple is that rare pioneer that heads out into the wilderness and people follow.

Back here in the real world, or more specifically the business world, not all companies will succeed with so brazen an approach; in this realm, those who do not adapt, die. At some level, Microsoft may be guilty of surrendering by changing some of the details of Windows 8 to more thoroughly reflect the wants of users, but if the product gets better, it will allow Microsoft to attract or keep more users. A growing base in its core customer base has never been more important.

The Google challenge
Perhaps one of the motivations for Microsoft to address customer complaints so rapidly is the increasing pressure Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) is putting on the company. As more and more applications move to the cloud, Google Apps is challenging Microsoft Office. Redmond responded with Office 365, but Google keeps upping the ante, having just released the Chrome OS to run on a new line of laptop-like devices that rely on the cloud. Ultimately, as Google continues to exert pressure on Microsoft, shareholders should see defensive moves as positives. Call it a surrender or a win -- tweaking Windows 8 is a victory for both shareholders and users alike.

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Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 09, 2013, at 2:42 AM, Fooloprunes wrote:

    It's simply a question of bandwidth. The greater the bandwidth between you an the web, the less you need a lot of intelligence at your "terminal".

    Despite all the hoopla about security, everything that can move to the cloud, will. Both MS and Apple are going to run into serious headwinds.

  • Report this Comment On May 09, 2013, at 4:11 AM, H3D wrote:

    As you say, inevitable.

    They were always going to put it back.

    That how the "New Recipe Coke" con works.

    If you haven't got anything new to give people, then you take away what they had. And then bask in the hero worship, when you give it back.

    Bit pathetic really.

  • Report this Comment On May 09, 2013, at 7:23 AM, OldShackEmployee wrote:

    Every time MS puts out a new OS, there are issues with the first several versions. It takes them a while to get the mistakes corrected, then MS points out how wonderful a job they did.

    Same old crap, using the general public as paid Beta Testers. What they should do is give back all of the money they have stolen from people from day one. MS's OS's have been crap and will continue to remain crap as long as stupid people buy their dreck.

  • Report this Comment On May 09, 2013, at 9:14 AM, Computerworgen wrote:

    This Windows 8 Failure happened because Microsoft listened more to Focus Groups filled with Apple Users, instead of it's own Customers. PC users do not like to be told what to like the way Apple Users (iSheep) do. Most of us do not want a Tablet UI being forced in our faces every time we boot up, or having something removed that did not need to be removed (The Start Button). It should all be OPTIONS, not forced. Allowing customers to Boot Directly to their Desktop & Returning the Classic Start Button will end about 96% of the complaints against Windows 8.

  • Report this Comment On May 09, 2013, at 9:25 AM, Computerworgen wrote:


    Cloud Computing requires & consumes a ton of bandwidth. & as a MMO player, I don't think for a second that a Cloud Based Computing could handle those types of computing loads. They can barely handle the current connections as it is! They would need cloud servers capable of high end graphics cards & 5+MB per user or more (Depending on users resolution needs). & those types of systems are EXPENSIVE!!! & what would that mean? They are going to charge you a monthly fee! the ISP's are going to cry about people using too much Bandwidth & start implementing data caps like they are doing now in many places, & jack up their fees!

    Cloud Computing is a bad joke & is only the Industry looking for more ways to Nickle & Dime consumers with more monthly fees. Don't believe the Cloud Computing Hype! The Cloud does have its benefits, such as backing up your important files, but for Terminal Gaming, it's no good!

  • Report this Comment On May 09, 2013, at 10:37 AM, stevema1 wrote:

    A friend of mine bought a new laptop and it have this crap system on it and I can say it really SUCKS.

    It is hard to maneuver and if Microsoft had any thoughts it should be to offer the people with computers to offer them a windows 7 operating system at no charge, just send them the disks.

    This OS is as bad if not worse then windows ME.

  • Report this Comment On May 09, 2013, at 2:38 PM, Fooloprunes wrote:


    I said "everything that can, will." You are right about MMO, and there are other graphic intensive applications (CAD for example) that do require a lot of local compute, but the majority of users don't need much local compute at all, and most people would be delighted to offload their "IT" responsibilities to someone else.

    Case in point, if (expletive removed) Adobe tells me one more time that I have to upgrade to a "more secure" version, I will not be held responsible for my actions, and I'm pretty sure about 99% of our Fellowfools share a similar view.


  • Report this Comment On May 10, 2013, at 11:53 AM, jayintheatl wrote:

    This article is neither sourced nor well researched, for some pretty important claims. Doug, please tell me:

    - what's your verified source for Microsoft itself being "flooded with complaints?"

    - what's your verified source that Microsoft itself "is conceding that it made some real mistakes?" Are you implying that the "start menu," as you call it, is absolutely returning to Windows?

    - given that the "start menu" still exists (just in a more visual form), I really think you meant the "Start button," which doesn't exist on the desktop, just on the keyboard itself. So this entire thesis appears to be about the start button being restored...see question above.

    - You state -- as a ridiculous attack for a company that was on the leading edge of smartphones, smart watches, tablets, etc. -- that Microsoft has "never been purely proactive" :: but then you admit that Microsoft's mobile designs are completely different from Apple's and that Apple is going to be copying Microsoft. Which is it?

    So, in summary: the article content, sourcing, and even thesis are extremely poor. Too bad one of your own readers had to edit it for obvious issues. As for the comments, most of them are even more laughable -- just for example, "New Coke" didn't sell the precise same amount as "old Coke" in the same timeframe (see Windows 7 / Windows 8 identical sales comparisons to 100M licenses -- but at least their authors are not held to the standards of journalistic contributions.

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