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Will Microsoft bring the ‘Start’ button back to Windows 8.1?

Company seeks a solution for slumping PC sales


 

When worldwide shipments of desktops and laptops slid by their largest margin in a decade earlier this month, Microsoft caught much of the blame over its radical new Windows 8 operating system, launched late last year, and its lack of a single, familiar button. Microsoft may now be hoping that reviving the “start” button could restart sales of PCs.

In the Windows 8.1 update, the company is rumoured to be considering an option to let users boot to the old layout, with its onscreen start button, and bypass the new app-heavy layout that makes computers look more like tablets or smartphones. Windows 8 is designed for touchscreens, clearly the future of computing. But Microsoft appears to be ahead of its time: fewer than 15 per cent of computers on the market this year will be touch-enabled, according to David Daoud, an analyst at IDC, the research firm that reported PC shipments in the first quarter of 2013 were down 14 per cent from the year before. Analysts pointed to a wave of bad reviews of Windows 8 to explain the drop (90 per cent of the world’s computers use Windows). One tech columnist even declared, “Windows: it’s over.”

Growing tablet sales have also been blamed for the PC’s decline, but most analysts agree that tablet users still want, and need, a computer. That’s good news for Microsoft, which accounted for a measly 1.5 per cent of global tablet sales last year, according to ABI analyst Jeff Orr. PC demand is also strong in developing markets: computer maker Dell, for instance, recently announced plans for a massive expansion of stores in Chinese cities.

But if the heyday of PCs really is over—a view supported by last week’s news that PC microprocessor maker Intel expects an eight per cent drop in second-quarter revenue—analysts note Microsoft’s business extends beyond Windows, including cloud-computing and its Office suite. Last week, a Morgan Stanley analyst called the company’s stock (up 7.5 per cent this year) undervalued and a bargain. Whether or not Windows 8 can be salvaged with a start button, Microsoft is far from finished.


 

Will Microsoft bring the ‘Start’ button back to Windows 8.1?

  1. The Surface Pro is completely money – I love it but I absolutely agree – Include the start menu! – It’s a pain in the rear to get to your apps unless they leave you a desktop icon. W8 OS w/ no start menu = Fail. Surface Pro Tablet 128 GB = Bad A$$. It can do everything I want it to… I actually like the “Modern” or “Metro” interface – it’s fast, it’s easy… but since I’m in IT – I can fix anything I don’t like about W8… and get around any nuance. Not for everyone yet… please wait for them to fix their OS – Only came out in November… so please be patient.

  2. Now… I think users are not being used to have their PCs without the start button, it would be nice if they put an option that could put back a version that has start button on it. Windows 8 represents a fundamental shift in the way Windows works and is far more touchscreen-oriented for use on tablets as well as traditional PCs. But I think more apps are more useful rather than frustrating…

  3. the start button thing is ok BUT it will only take you to the start screen. there will be NO menu involved so it will accomplish nothing but piss people off that much more, If you will go to my blog http://justaboutwindows.blogspot.com/2013/04/windows-8-start-menu.html you will see how you can set up your start screen to do everything you want to do.

  4. Underneath it all W8 is probably quite good, but I hate the GUI and so does every non-IT person I know who has had the displeasure to have to use it or the misfortune of naively buying a new computer assuming W8 would be similar enough to its predecessors that I could confidently trust the brand. We feel like we walked into McDonalds and bought a beefy Big Mac not knowing that they quietly began making it from tofu without warning anybody.

  5. Touchscreens are only the future of a segment of computing. Microsoft’s error was thinking that the entire market wanted touchscreens. If I’m coding or doing any kind of productive work on my PC I don’t want to be touching the damn screen.

  6. The decline of PCs sales and chip sales is directly tied to the general hatred of Windows 8. Who doesn’t hate it? The few and far between (and the same don’t use their computers for all that much). It’s awful, interrupts work flow, complicated, two-faced, an obvious monetization, shoves on the computing public Metro, a walled prison, er, garden (from which Microsoft takes whopping 30% cut from struggling developers), and is ugly.

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