Microsoft Has Made a Huge Mistake

Microsoft's Metro Start Screen is about to go away. Image source: author.

If you're among the many PC users who absolutely loathe the unavoidable, tile-based Metro Start Screen introduced by Microsoft  (NASDAQ: MSFT  )  in Windows 8, you're gonna love this.

According to WinSuperSite writer Paul Thurrott, the Redmond-based tech giant is gearing up to bring back the full-fledged Start Menu as an option in its next major revamp of Windows. What's more -- for Windows 8 app users who've ever wondered, "How do I escape from this full-screen monstrosity?!" -- the update should also introduce the optional ability to run Metro apps in floating windows on the desktop.

Currently code-named "Project Threshold," in its broadest sense Microsoft's latest programming effort aims to further unify the look and feel of the interfaces between its PC, phone, and Xbox platforms.  

But Microsoft's decision to ditch the traditional Start Menu in favor of the Metro Start Screen has easily stood out as the most controversial -- and widely panned -- interface change to Windows 8.

Of course, Microsoft did partially address the resulting backlash by adding a Start button in Windows 8.1, but it merely takes users to the same Start screen, which can now share a wallpaper to make the effect less jarring -- clearly a halfway compromise.

Our bad ...
But if Microsoft allows these two historic features to return, isn't it effectively admitting that its shift toward the tile-based, full screen app-running Metro interface was a huge mistake?

At the very least, I think such a move would essentially acknowledge that Microsoft's bold user interface changes were simply too ambitious.

Now everything's obviously clearer in hindsight, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize it was a huge risk for Microsoft to ask hundreds of millions of stubborn Windows users to change their ways, especially considering the majority have relied largely on the same usage metaphor revolving around the traditional Start menu since its introduction nearly 20 years ago.

After all, recent IDC data indicates broader PC market shipments are expected to have fallen by double digits when all is said and done in 2013. That said, IDC also notes that as enterprise upgrades roll in and with Windows XP's end of life coming up in early 2014, the PC market should experience a subsequent stabilization at above 300 million units per year.  

But that's hardly reassuring for Microsoft shareholders, who've stood by helplessly as their company fails to grab meaningful market share in the fast-growing mobile and tablet device markets.

In the end, while Microsoft could very well find its footing in those markets over the long run, it's telling that even they've finally recognized their high-stakes gaffe.

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  • Report this Comment On December 14, 2013, at 6:02 PM, symbolset wrote:

    It has always amazed me how optimistic is about the outcome for Microsoft and the PC market. No matter how many times they have to restate their estimates they never seem to actually anticipate the real trend. For an analyst firm this should be the kiss of death: an inability to successfully analyze. And yet here they are, projecting a sunny future yet again when we all know it ain't gonna happen. No credibility whatever, and apparently no concern about that key issue either.

  • Report this Comment On December 14, 2013, at 10:54 PM, badgerzilla wrote:

    Microsoft has got to own it's legacy role. Tackling future scenarios does not require one to abandon legacy solutions. Nothing can explain this switch of their's other than that Ballmer has gone senile.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2013, at 12:50 AM, emilykulish wrote:

    Agree. That was such a huge mistake. Glad to know they have finally realized the problem.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2013, at 3:03 AM, tjc206 wrote:

    As a student in law school with fairly poor tying abilities and not a lot of time spare time, I can say that I am grateful for how efficient 8.1 allows me to be with voice recognition and improved multitasking ability. Microsoft really nailed it with 8.1.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2013, at 6:41 AM, binary512 wrote:

    That said, that said, that said, that said, that said, that said, that said, that said, that said, that said, that said, that said, that said, that said,

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2013, at 6:41 AM, mziyabo wrote:

    Are all bloggers of the fool hired to berate Microsoft? And for no reason but to put out a headline that inspires negativity about MS.

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