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back to article Microsoft talks up devices, Windows 8.1 at developer shindig

Everything is beautiful at Microsoft's Build developer conference this year. Beautiful, gorgeous, delightful, beautiful, absolutely beautiful. These days, Redmond's mouthpieces seem to stammer out the word "beautiful" about as often as most speakers say "uh." But beyond all the disingenuous awe and self-congratulation, Wednesday …

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Unhappy

Win 8-Still a bad idea...

I think that the whole premise of Windows 8 is still a bad plan for users: That is deprecate the Desktop, try to force everyone into a one size fits all UI best suited to light-weight activities on a phone, and make everyone buy Apps. only from the MS Store where they take their cut.

They won't give us a real start menu because it might let people more easily linger outside of tile-land (since TIFKAM is the only place they think you should really be...)

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Re: Win 8-Still a bad idea...

I do not miss the old start menu... and my start screen is not littered with metro apps, its mostly shortcuts for classic software - most of which will never be 'metro-ised' and a few modern apps... all in all, its a nice, organised location for accessing commonly used software and what used to be win7 widgets...

its much easier to find shortcuts than traversing a tree full of stuff, not to mention a lot more elegant...

even the loss of the start menu is not a problem, diving into the bottom left corner is faster than clicking a button shaped hotspot... apart from when remoting onto a 2012/win8 machine in full screen!

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Re: Win 8-Still a bad idea...

"even the loss of the start menu is not a problem, diving into the bottom left corner is faster than clicking a button shaped hotspot... apart from when remoting onto a 2012/win8 machine in full screen!"

Or pressing the Windows key?

Divers', clickers', mouse-caressers' and glass-slab-fondlers' MMV.

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Re: Win 8-Still a bad idea...

Strange, I just installed a bunch of XP and Win7 programs on a Win8 box. All worked nicely on the desktop. No need to buy apps, not forced in any way to buy them.

Modern is just a different start menu. Mine has exactly 5 "apps" on the privat box (Mail, Messenger, Contacts, Weather, Kindle) the rest are shortcuts for Applications. On Win7 those cluttered the taskbar/desktop and where hidden behind open windows

But I guess you are just the replacement Eadon so Troll on

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Holmes

No restored Start Menu means Microsoft is lying though their teeth about listening to their customers. The restored Start Button is yet just another way to force the user back to the execrable and hated Metro UI, meaning Microsoft has pretty much just spit in the faces of their users and has indicated that it no longer has any real interest in remaining in the business of making products its customers want. The outrage that will be engendered by such a slimy move will make the anger triggered by the original Start Menu removal look trivial.

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Devil

Re: Asok

"Microsoft has pretty much just spit in the faces of their users and has indicated that it no longer has any real interest in remaining in the business of making products its customers want. "

Umm,... hate to tell you this, but once you understand that Microsoft is about the money 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Some of their rather unfortunate behavoiur makes sense.

M$ spitting in your face since... ummm DOS (maybe before, but i'm only aware of those products and later).

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Re: Asok

It would a pretty nice logo for them: "Microsoft - spitting in your face since the dawn of ... DOS!"

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@Asok Asus

Dude, relax. It's a UI. Get that mad about stuff that matters. 320000 sub-Saharan children are blind.

Anyway, for everyone else, Ballmer's right about rapid iteration, that's good, but they need to do it for the phone as well. WP8 is ace, but needs more updates to drive home the advantage of iOS is stalling a little bit.

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Anonymous Coward

The thing is that they're not lying through their teeth. The level of research and development and consultancy with users that MS put into changing UIs is incredible, they monitor the use of thousands upon thousands of Windows users and do direct research with hundreds of people. That a few shouty people on the internet then say that "This is all shit, they never asked me" doesn't change that fact.

Why is is always the self professed IT experts who complain the most about having to change how they use a UI? The people who you would think should find it the easiest to change?

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@Robert Grant

> 320000 sub-Saharan children are blind.

Don't tell Ballmer - he'll start marketing at them.

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Anonymous Coward

"they monitor the use of thousands upon thousands of Windows users"

they monitor the use of all Windows users - fixed

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Anonymous Coward

"The level of research and development and consultancy with users that MS put into changing UIs is incredible"

Must be the reason it's selling so well

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JDX
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If Ms listened to their customers we'd never have got XP, and we'd probably have never got 95. People resist and resent change most of the time... touch-screen mobiles were resisted too. Asking what customers want and building it leads to design-by-committee and the Homer Simpson Car.

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"they monitor the use of thousands upon thousands of Windows users"

Measuring a minority does not justify everything you want to do to that minority.

Does not take away that minorities rights to comment.

Never magically makes a bad change good.

Win8 withdrew or damaged features to support Microsofts market planning, not for users benefit. The plan isn't even working so everyone loses.

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Re: @Robert Grant

Windows 8 - so easy to use even blind sub-Saharan children prefer Linux.

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Asking what customers want and building it leads to design-by-committee and the Homer Simpson Car.

Or the Ford Edsel, to give the more real-world example on which Homer's was based.

All perfectly true and quite potentially disasterous. But doing the exact opposite, telling your customers what they want and ignoring how they respond to it is equally risky, as MS have found out.

Proper market research and beta-testing/previewing should of course avoid either extreme case. Unfortunately for them (and us) that doesn't seem to be what's happened this time.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm not suggesting everyhting is a-ok with win8, but: The thing is that proper market research is exactly what happened, then it was released to beta testers, who howled, but this is the nature of many of the sort of people who beta test - just look at any IT forum, if a company has the temerity to change something. MS have the market research and the usability studies, but the howls of the techies who don't like something are much amplified by the Internet.

I've had several non-tech people profess to me that Win8 is a turkey, and I've asked if they've used it, the answer is always "No, but that's what everyone on the Internet is saying." I've even seen people here, so desperate to hate Win8 that they make embarrassingly naive comments which are factually wrong as anyone with a few hours experience on the OS would know.

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Alien

Re: @Asok Asus

In response to your Post I'd like to respond back in the words of the Immortal Bard....

"I don't know them, I've never met them. They only exist in words I think I hear." (or in your case see)...

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Mushroom

"I've had several non-tech people profess to me that Win8 is a turkey, and I've asked if they've used it, the answer is always "No, but that's what everyone on the Internet is saying."

The thing you are forgetting is that it us IT techies who get repeated phone calls, problems to fix, hassle etc when customers/friends/family buy some IT that they haven't a clue how to work. I for one tell EVERYONE who asks me, not to touch Windows 8 with a barge pole. The reason is simple - I'll be the stupid idiot having to do all the retraining so that people can use their PC again! If you are a techie and love Win8, then that is great and you can do all the fixes yourself that make it useable. However, if you are in the position where you know how much grief you personally are going to get from Win 8 users, you can only advise - please don't buy that.

I'm not in IT support as a full-time job, so can tell the many, many people who ask me about it that I for one will NOT give any help, advice or fixes to a Windows 8 machine they buy. If they want one - then set it up and/or fix it yourself. I wouldn't touch people's Vista machines for the same reasons - its not my job to fix microsoft's f*** ups. (Happy to work on Win XP, 7, Mac or Linux)

For those working in IT support, with hundreds of IT illiterate people to support - what would you do about advising Windows 8 or not to company bosses? Simple really - get out that long bargepole......

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Well, I could have done without 95 and all the other Dos-Extenders. The Win-NT line OTOH including XP (If you killed the candy) is a fine OS

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Re: The Win-NT line OTOH

We know you desperately want us to forget Vista, but we won't.

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Boffin

If Ms listened to their customers we'd never have got XP, and we'd probably have never got 95.

Win95 was the first one to actually do a decent ripoff of the System 7 UI. Most customers back then were grateful for this, as it uncluttered the screen compared to 3.1's Program Manager. (Incidentally, Metro looks like a return to that clutter with the Start screen!)

XP worked fine, deactivating the Luna UI could be done as well though I never saw the point of doing so. It didn't interfere with the UI, unlike TIFKAM.

touch-screen mobiles were resisted too.

You talk like this is something of the past. It isn't, some of us still resist touchscreen smartphones.

MS did the research, most of the feedback was "get rid of this toy thing" so they discarded it and pushed it on anyway. They even went for the nuclear option, killing the ability of deactivating Metro in the RC version...

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Re: The Win-NT line OTOH

Never used Vista so I can not comment from personal experience. Know two persons who did "late" in the life cycle of Vista and on new hardware. The found the UAC "naggy" but otherwise it worked.

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FAIL

Let me fix that for you...

"Rapid release cadence is absolutely fundamental to what we're doing"

I beg to differ. It has become fundamental for you because of what you're doing. And what Microsoft is currently doing is releasing products over their entire range which their customers would rather avoid best as they can. And it's getting out of hand I think.

This isn't about people disliking certain changes any more, in my opinion Microsoft is alienating themselves from their own customer base, even their own fans, and it's becoming dangerous I think. Visual Studio 2012? Most developers prefer not to upgrade but to stick with 2010 because of the better interface, and given that VS2010 supports .NET 4.0 as well you can also easily it together with modern Windows versions. Of course 2012 becomes a requirement when developing for Windows 8, but who's going to do that? New developers, like myself, will have no choice but to buy this version because 2010 is no longer available, or they need to grab an MSDN subscription. I know some people did just that solely for grabbing 2010 and took the extra's (software licenses) as a bonus. But it was 2010 they were after.

Xbox One anyone? I'm a PS3 user and although I prefer the environment you won't find me trashing the Xbox. In this case there was also no need what so ever, because Microsoft's own Xbox fans were doing that themselves after the news of all the Xbox One tie ins (no second hand games, constant internet connection, etc.). Sure; Microsoft reversed some of those decisions, but the initial act remains. And the damage has been done; because all console users know that if you buy a gaming console then chances are high that its functionality will change over the years.

And what does Microsoft do? Instead of realizing what is going on they're going to release more products over a shorter time period. And I don't think it's hard to guess what their motivations are: more money. They're going to need it if no one is buying their stuff any more.

But honestly: instead of creating more products, why not start with creating better products instead? You know: products which people would actually want to use? Because if even your fans are rallying and openly state that they'll just skip and avoid certain versions, even on your own fora, then something is very wrong here.

Don't go for quantity; try going for quality instead!

I honestly think this is a very dangerous development for Microsoft. Make one product which people don't want and you can calculate the risks involved. Start mass production of that stuff and you may very well head for a big financial impact.

Even so, I do hope I'll be proven wrong. But I have a bad feeling about all this.

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Happy

Re: Let me fix that for you...

Reminds me of a comment by Rich Hall:

"Good things come to those who wait, shit shows up instantly"

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FAIL

Re: Let me fix that for you...

I think for that to happen a certain Mr. Ballmer would need to checkout first.

I for One can not understand why hes still in charge of Microsoft...

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Mushroom

Argh, more microsoft lies.

Pisses me off to no end whole windows 8 and microsoft "listening their customers" crap. It's obvious they are not doing that when start button takes one back to tile garbage.

What I'd like to do is to damn go head to head with that bonehead ballmer, tell him several things that are not very polite or politically correct, then promptly beat 13 kinda shit outta him with a chair or few, and then boot him inna fork till he screams like castrates in the x-mas album.

I'm sick'n'tired of this microsoft bullshit where they try shoehorn us their crap, esp. tile view junk on desktop.

On phone it works, I know, I have windows phone.

On table it probably works, I havent gotten yet to test windows tablets.

On desktop it's pain between the dorsal mounds. When I use desktop, I'm always running several software and browser windows same time with IMs etc. so whole tiled garbage is totally useless for me. And more microsoft try to push that crap, more passionately I will hate it and them.

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Re: Argh, more microsoft lies.

If you do not need Modern - then simply do not use it.

Currently open here (T731 convertible, docked to two 21inch Samsungs):

Firefox(twice)

Explorer

OneNote

Word

Eclipse

Outlook

Works like a charm.

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FAIL

Re: Argh, more microsoft lies.

If you do not need Modern - then simply do not use it.

Except running anything requires using the Start Screen, which is Modern.

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Re: Argh, more microsoft lies.

So? Just a start menu replacement. But if you like "splitting hairs" I rephrase:

"If you do not like Modern Apps - then simply do not use them"

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Listening to who?

They had a pre-release period of up to a year during which testers and pundits were telling them TIFKAM was broken: they didn't listen then. The system builders wanted to install start-menu (not button) patches and it was forbidden, instead of listened to. After the launch they were told it was wrong, and went on the offensive about education & practice.

The only people they have been listening to are their own sales force sying 'we can't shift this carp - do something'.

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FAIL

Listening? Really?

I'll keep this short. Well, ish.

For as much as I want Windows at all, which isn't that much these days, 7 is fine. 8 is broken.

I only need Windows at work, and when I'm there I need to work. Not fight with shit that gets in my way. In the interests of not having to deal with crap tomorrow note the following:

Yes, I have used Win8 during the preview phases

Yes, I have worked out how to use it

No, it's not an improvement on 7. Incremental improvements in startup time and a better copy dialog are not enough to make up for destroying context every time I press the windows key/click on the ALL NEW Start button.

Now, that's all fine - MS owe me nothing, and I owe them nothing too. Newsflash though - I am perfectly capable of giving them no money, and not using their shiny OS. I can go to pcspecialist and get a machine with Win7 (by default no less...) or no OS at all. Win8, with or without a .1, is a sack of shit.

tl:dr. Call me Luddite if you will. I'll just use something that works for me, and it ain't Win8

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Coat

Download ISO. Install ISO. Patch. How do I log in this stupid store again? Curse loudly. Bang head against desk. Plead. Finally find upgrade method.

Now, if it doesn't blow up during install, let's see if this actually makes Windows 8 as useful for my scenarios as Windows 7 is.

Mine's the one with the bullet to bite on.

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WTF?

or go to the preview.microsoft.com website and click on download .....doh!

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Or you could realise that isn't available to Canadians yet (or wasn't last I checked) and stop being a smart ass. That would require you to think 2 feet in front of your face, however, and I suspect that may be incompatible with your wetware.

D'oh!

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Ok, time to go back to 7

I bought Win8 when they were offering that special deal at a very low price. Loaded it on a Win7 laptop with a touch screen (since Win7 doesn't really know what to do with a touch interface). It sucked. From what I'm reading 8.1 does not fix the basic issues with the UI. So I'm thinking I'll restore Win7 from the recovery partition and then give the laptop away. I've got other laptops, and it'd bug me that this one has a useless touch screen.

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Re: Ok, time to go back to 7

Or spend $5 on Start 8. When I get a new laptop I'm likely to be stuck with Windows 8. Assuming 8.1 doesn't break Start 8, I'll certainly invest in it.

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Re: Ok, time to go back to 7

Start 8 unfortunately doesn't disable TIFKAM completely though does it. It loads and lurks there waiting to appear at an unfortunate moment like a turd that just won't flush.

Also Stardock are getting greedy. I predict it won't be long before your version of Start 8 expires and they will ask you via helpful pop ups to upgrade or more likely subscribe every time you log in. I had to uninstall Fences because it got annoying.

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FAIL

Re: Ok, time to go back to 7

Again WHATS WITH YOU PEOPLE AND START8?!

Why the Hell should I have to purchase a Third-Party Fix, that may or may not be broken by the time 8.1 hits.

For something that Microsoft shouldn't have ever broken EVER?!

Not that I care but, I'd rather chuck on another $125.00(USD), and get a proper OS like Windows 7.

Then again I could just use Mint Linux (Which I currently am.), and pocket that $125.00(USD) instead!

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Why do you talk up Windows 8.1? its absolutely not available to UK users! Why bother.

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Devil

errr... because the event is in America, run by Americans for Americans - you should have listened to Ms Jones in double Geog instead of trying to look up her skirt.

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The update is being released regionally and will be available in the UK from what I found out, in the next day or so at most

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Really??

I'll pass on the preview. I'll wait for the final. Maybe by then, Microsoft will get a clue and put the full functionality of the start button back. To do anything less is to be clueless about what customers want. Businesses aren't going to deploy Windows 8 if 8.1 doesn't bring the full start button functionality back. They'll deploy Windows 7 and call it a day. If they do become interested in RT or Surface Tablets, they'll be used sparingly, at best. Windows 8 isn't winning much love out in the wild. Balmer has got to go. Screw up after screw up and he gets to keep his job? Anyone else in any other firm, would be gone long before now. Vista would've done him in.

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Unhappy

I like windows 8...

I happy with these changes... I think what stopped windows 8 from taking off is a disconnection with the real world... not everyone lives in a mansion in silicon valle or has more than 1 computer... people had to chose between a laptop that did everything or a tablet with a touch screen that can't do much more than a phone. If people only have one the space/need for one computer they aren't going to buy a windows 8 slab.

MS need to start living in the real world and see that most people earn less before tax in the whole life time than most MS employees pay in tax each month. I saw MS idea for a new games console with hugh speakers placed a round a room... sorry balmer but most people don't live in a pad with enough spare rooms to make one of them just for gaming... same with computers most people don't have several... children don't have touch screens in their bedrooms so that they can talk with their 80 year old rich grandparents over skype... and going outside with my laptop to start dancing to click click click noise it makes is a sure way to end up in traction... and the need to buy a new laptop.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I like windows 8...

if you like Windows 8, then either.

1/ You have a laptop with a touchscreen AND you only use your laptop for media consumption.

2/ Errm.....

For everyone else, they are bettwe with Windows 7, Linux Mint or even Unbuntu Unity!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I like windows 8...

Windows 8 works perfectly well without touch anything, I don't know where this "It needs touch" meme comes from. It works much better with touch than previous versions of Windows, but it in no way needs touch.

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Re: I like windows 8...

Actually the "only one computer needed" concept IS one of the benefits of Win8.

A tablet pc with a good dock (Dell, Lenovo, some Samsungs), a convertible (Samsung, Sony, Lenovo) or even something as simple as a tablet pc with USB3 and a USB-dock (MS, Samsung) is both a tablet AND a desktop. Core-i Units like the Helix or the Vaio Duo13 can easily replace most desktops with "heavy duty gaming" being the only exception and are good tablets as well. And the lighter, cheaper Atoms, even the current generation, can replace the "write letter, surf, check email" PCs easily and can run rings around ARM based units.

Even if you still have "more than one" computer the fact that you have one set of programs, one set of UI on all devices is a benefit.

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Trollface

Re: I dislike windows 8...

Windows 8 works perfectly well without touch anything, I don't know where this "It needs touch" meme comes from.

Gartner. MS has done the impossible: they proved a Gartner prediction correct.

And no, if MS were to scrap Modern, Win8 would probably start making inroads as expected, instead of sinking the PC market faster.

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Wow!

Almost universal condemnation of what MS is doing and without Eadon to rough up the edges.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wow!

Some people are just never happy - I'm fairly certain Microsoft could announce tomorrow that they are bringing back the old start menu and scrapping the new UI and I'd still come on here to find "I'm sticking with Windows 7 until they change X" and "Microsoft are doomed as a company because Y".

For me the interesting part is the ability to resize and show more than 2 apps at a time - Windows is the only one of the big 3 tablet operating systems that offers true side-by-side multitasking baked into the OS (as opposed to Android which requires 3rd party apps), which is a fairly big feature for tablet / oversized smartphone users.

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