Windows Blue can be previewed in June, but Microsoft said it heard our cries for a Windows 8 Start button. A Start button “might be helpful,” but Microsoft is trying to understand “what people are really asking for when they’re asking for that.”

Microsoft sold more than 100 million licenses for Windows 8, keeping up with Windows 7 sales at the six-month mark. In June, people who have Windows 8 will be able to preview Windows Blue.

“We recently surpassed the 100 million licenses sold mark for Windows 8,” stated Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer Tami Reller. “This number includes Windows licenses that ship on a new tablet or PC, as well as upgrades to Windows 8. This is up from the 60 million license number we provided in January.” She admitted that “Windows 8 is a big, ambitious change,” and “change takes time” to accept, but Microsoft believes “the Windows Blue update is also an opportunity for us to respond to the customer feedback that we’ve been closely listening to since the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT.”

Microsoft heard our outcries for a Windows 8 Start button but is trying to understand what people are really asking for when they’re asking for thatLack of a Start button is the biggest Windows 8 criticism for users on non-touch devices. Reller told The Verge, “We have heard that, we definitely have heard that and taken that into account. We’ve really also tried to understand what people are really asking for when they’re asking for that.”

Seriously? Hmm, it seems pretty obvious that the outcries for Windows 8 to include a Start button really mean that customers are asking for the Start button. That would lead to a Start menu. Windows 8 is not user-friendly on a PC or laptop. The lack of a Start button, Start menu and the ability to boot straight to Windows are the “loudest” complaints.

“We knew there would be a learning curve with Windows 8,” admitted Microsoft VP for Windows Julie Larson-Green at the Wired Business Conference. She is in charge of bringing Windows to the “mobile age” and may even be a candidate to eventually follow Steve Ballmer as CEO of Microsoft. She hasn’t ruled it out and said to ask her again in a year.

For now, Larson-Green is the head of Windows Engineering and is “tweaking the design and layout of Windows to free it from the desktop and allow people to better incorporate it into their lives through mobile devices.” She explained that Windows 8 was designed for mobile, compared to Windows 7, which was “optimized for the laptop.” She insisted that people want to be mobile, yet added that Microsoft is “not going to be stubborn” when it comes to Blue.

ZDNet suggested that “New Coke, like Windows 8 for Microsoft, was total market failure.” Coca-Cola was wise enough to switch back and give people what they wanted, Classic Coke. Steven Vaughan-Nichols asked, “Does Ballmer have the guts to admit he made a mistake and give users what they clearly want?”

Neither Larson-Green, nor Reller, would confirm that the Start button is coming back. Larson-Green stated, “The Start Button might be helpful,” yet she pointed out that the Start Button is there now, but “basically hidden. Some would like it showing up on the screen all the time.” Although there have been “meaningful discussions” about bringing it back, that doesn’t imply that Microsoft will bring back the “old Start Menu.”

Mary Jo Foley pointed out that the Windows Blue preview, which will be made available in June, happens to coincide with Microsoft’s Build 2013 Conference; it will be held June 26 – 28 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Microsoft planned to “share updates and talk about what’s next for Windows” at Build. Blue is expected to be named Windows 8.1.

Reller told The Verge that Microsoft is interested in 7- and 8-inch form factors for Blue. “We’ve made sure from the product to our pricing and offerings we are supporting 7- and 8-inch devices specifically.” Yet Blue, according to Reller, “does a nice job of optimizing for those small screen form factor sizes.”

Yeah, well, don’t forget that we aren’t all using those small screens at all times. Some of us will continue to work from a non-touch device and we flipping want Windows 8 to stop being so unfriendly to PC and laptop users. It’s not about accepting change; it’s about usability.

 


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