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back to article Microsoft: It was never 'Metro,' it was always 'Modern UI'

After another long night at the whiteboard, the deep thinkers at Microsoft's marketing department have come up with a new replacement for the verboten word "Metro." From now on, it seems, the blocky, touch-centric user interface of Windows 8's new Start Menu will be known as the "Modern UI." Apps written to take advantage of the …

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DJV
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Re: Ooooppps NSIS

Well spotted sir!

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FAIL

Naff: adjective. See "Microsoft"

It's amazing, isn't it? 62 billion in the bank and 94,290 staff, and between them they can't even dream up a half-way imaginative name for their new UI.

Sometimes I think Microsoft actually goes out of its way to be deliberately naff.

What next, a social network called "so.cl"?

Oh wait...

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Re: Naff: adjective. See "Microsoft"

Wait just a second there... are you telling me that so.cl is still around? I had only first learned about its existence at a local Windows User Group meeting a couple of months ago, but it was so unremarkable and unimpressive that I had literally already completely forgotten about it since then. Up until reading your comment above I had never seen it mentioned again either, keeping me blissfully ignorant of its continued existence. Thanks for ruining that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Naff: adjective. See "Microsoft"

London 2012 appears to have been a resounding success - apart from Lisa Simpson giving the blowjob everywhere you look - and it wasn't until actually having mascots on the track trying to freak out the athletes that it occured to me at least the light coloroured one looks a bit like a big flaccid cock with semi-retracted foreskin.

Perhaps MS should have employed the twats who designed those.

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Anonymous Coward

how about post-Modern...

Yesss... now I realized, it's elementary simple and brilliant... those squares and rectangles are to be used in the future by monkeys, one million monkeys randomly hitting them, to generate the OS of the future... and another million to be hired as testers, randomly hitting the squares, something must come out of this, eventually...

alright it has been a long day, I really need a beer...

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Cru
Meh

Modern?

Modernism? As in, 20th century?

Welcome to the new millennium. Where's your post-modern UI?

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Oh, I know.

They can call it “Lorem Ipsum”.

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Re: Oh, I know.

In the same line of thought...there is also "etaoin shrdlu"

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Happy

Re: Oh, I know.

No, they should do a Prince, you know, "The UI formerly known as Metro."

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Windows

Windows Phone news has dried up

I note that on every blog, analyst report and trade publication for the last 18 months there have been an continuous drumbeat of hopeful, over-optimistic articles about Windows Phone - several each week and syndicated all over the place. And now they have all but stopped. If anything, the trend is now the opposite.

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Re: Windows Phone news has dried up

Windows Phone is a huge failure. It gained only 2-3% market share.

The MetroUI that comes with it it's a huge failure. If people loved it then it would have sold like hotcakes.

So, how could any Company/Corporation group of managers even think about forcing the unwanted MetroUI on everyone from system admins to developers to power users to normal users ?

It doesn't make any damn sense. The demand is not there so why forcing it?

Either at Microsoft they are full of drugs like never before or crazy managers came up with this mess of MetroUI to please those that designed it inside the group, maybe their lovers or relatives or whatever..? But that would still be the result of using drugs, it's just a financial suicide.

The people have spoken already, MetroUI is a failure, only a bunch of Microsoft fans along with Microsoft employees love it. The rest of the world doesn't want to waste time with that childish awful design mess of an UI.

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WTF?

Modern UI eh?

The 1960s council towerblock estate of UI do they mean?

Is Windows 9 going to have post-modern UI with exposed pipework all over the screen like the Lloyds building?

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Pint

The purpose of the US Patent & Trademark office is to just rubber-stamp everything and let the lawyer$ sort it out. There's probably no-one there who knows that "UI" is a generic term.

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> The purpose of the US Patent & Trademark office is to just rubber-stamp everything and let the lawyer$ sort it out.

The purpose of the US Patent & Trademark office is to collect the fees as it rubber-stamps everything and lets the lawyer$ sort it out.

There, fixed that for you.

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Joke

The new name is so obvious.

Really, microsoft, it's staring you in the face, instead of metro, stick with theme you've had for decades! :

Tiles

Makes sense.

Microsoft Tiles.

You can go far with a simple construct like this. Everyone knows windows.

Apple uses big cats for operating system names, why not use building materials for yours?

Microsoft Brick.

Microsoft Sliding Doors.

Microsoft Concrete.

Microsoft Drain.

It's awesome! - and I've given you this idea for free, as I know you'll be reading ALL the comments on this forum.

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Joke

I don't know about all MS staff but...

I have it on very good authority that actually, Ballmer does indeed sit down at the end of everyday and peruse these very forums while enjoying a lovely glass of Buckfast tonic wine and a hand rolled Old Holborn cigarette. He's a very refined man, clearly!

Hi Steve!

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Happy

Re: The new name is so obvious.

They've been there and done that.

Remember Windows CeMeNT?

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Remember Windows CeMeNT?

I've got it - call it Windows SeeYou NT

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Paris Hilton

Re: The new name is so obvious.

after a night out on the tiles, she's looking a bit worse for wear...

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WTF?

Why name it at all?

I think I'll call it the Win8 interface. I don't really see the point of another name no one will use.

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Generic Naming

Perhaps instead of Modern they could call it New Technology and then call the operating system Windows NT.

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Joke

I think everyone should refer whenever possible to every other OS GUI as a modern UI just to piss off Microsoft. Such as, I think iOS is such a modern UI, ah but is it as much as a modern UI as the latest Ubuntu or Androids modern UI?

As for cool names for your UI i think the Amiga OS had the best, theirs was called intuition

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Linux

There's a term for this

Polishing the Turd. MS has made billions doing this for years. Why they chose not to steamroll whoever held the trademark on Metro leads me to believe that they don't have high hopes for Windows 8. Shortly to be replaced with Windows 9. Should start a betting pool on what they'll call that turd *er* newest bestest OS!

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Anonymous Coward

Modern UI

" If Microsoft was forced to drop the name Metro because of a trademark dispute, as rumor has it, is the phrase "Modern UI" unique enough that Microsoft can trademark it?"

Like they trademarked 'Windows', FFS (although it took 2 attempts.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Modern UI

" If Microsoft was forced to drop the name Metro because of a trademark dispute, as rumor has it, is the phrase "Modern UI" unique enough that Microsoft can trademark it?"

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, so read what I am about to write here while keeping that in mind.

I have been reading up a lot on U.S. trademark law recently for my own business purposes, and to the best of my understanding the term "Modern UI" would be most likely considered by the U.S. courts to be a very "weak" trademark that would have a very limited scope of protection at best, or be outright rejected for registration by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office at worst.

To explain, for a trademark to be "strong," and therefore very easy to register and enforce, it must be above all else considered to be distinctive. The most distinctive, and thus most protectable marks are known as "fanciful" marks. Fanciful marks are usually words that are completely made up, or at the very least very obsolete and little-known words. The big pharmaceutical companies are the absolute masters at coming up with these kinds of very strong trademarks, giving drugs made-up fanciful names such as Lipitor, Advair, Plavix, Nexium, Prevacid, etc. Some companies also have very strongly protectable fanciful names, such as Exxon and Kodak.

The next strongest type of trademark are marks that are considered to be "arbitrary" marks. These marks are words with well-known meanings, but their meanings are unrelated to the products that they are being used with. Some good examples of arbitrary trademarks would be "Apple" for computers, "Lotus" for a car company, and possibly even "Metro" for a user-interface.

Weaker still, but still protectable and considered to be distinctive, are "suggestive" marks. These marks hint at describing a product, sometimes using clever misspellings or arrangements of words to do so, but they don't flat out describe the product. Some good examples of these kinds of trademarks would be "Froot Loops" for a breakfast cereal, "Durawrap" for an industrial plastic packaging film, and "Microsoft" for a company that develops software for microcomputers.

A "weak" kind of trademark that is often not considered to be very distinctive nor protectable, is a "descriptive" trademark. To quote gimmelaw.com, "A mark is considered merely descriptive when it consists only of a term or symbol that describes the intended purpose, function, users, nature or desirable characteristic of the products." These marks can only become protectable the hard way, i.e. that they have been used in commerce to identify the source of a product for so long that the words have developed a "secondary meaning." This means that consumers have begun to identify the mark with one source, and no other source, for the goods or services that it describes. Some good examples of descriptive trademarks would be "Sports Illustrated" for a sports magazine with photos, "International Business Machines" for an international company that sells business machines, "Windows" for windowing-software, and "Sharp" for televisions.

Note that all of the mark examples that I have just listed above *have* developed the required "secondary meaning" over time, which is why they are now considered enforceable trademarks. However, without this previously established secondary meaning, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will not allow a descriptive trademark to be registered. "Modern UI" sounds like a classic example of a descriptive mark to me, so good luck with Microsoft trying to register it. The only way that they will ever be able to make "Modern UI" protectable as a trademark is if they establish a secondary meaning for the term, which means that they will have to convince all of us to identify the term "Modern UI' with a user-interface coming from Microsoft and only Microsoft. They may succeed in doing that if they can convince everyday people to identify the term "Modern UI" only with Microsoft, but it's not like their success with this endeavor will be easy or pre-ordained.

Other marks that are considered to be "weak" and have to achieve a "secondary meaning" before they become protectable are marks based on surnames (Sinclair Research, McDonalds, Ferrari), or marks that are primarily geographically descriptive, such as "First National Bank of Omaha" for a bank located in Omaha, Nebraska, or "New York Life" for a New York-based life insurance company. As you can see from the examples that I have given above, they can become protectable, but once again it is an uphill battle as you have to establish a secondary meaning first, and these types of trademarks will often be rejected for registration if the secondary meaning is not already established.

Lastly, you have generic terms, which cannot be protected as trademarks. You will not get any kind of trademark protection by naming your bread-making company "Bread Co.," or your computer selling company "Laptop Computers, Inc." because these terms are generic and not protectable.

Like some others have expressed here, if I was Microsoft I would have given the company Metro AG some big sacks of money in exchange for using the "Metro" trademark, or failing that firing up the war fleet of lawyers, digging in my heels, and fighting Metro AG for all they're worth over the mark. "Metro" is a far stronger and more distinctive trademark for a user-interface than "Modern UI" is, and Microsoft had already built some brand recognition (for better or for worse) around the "Metro" mark. It would make good sense to fight to keep the mark at this point. But I am just an armchair observer on the sidelines, so what do I know. Metro AG is another large multinational company, and their war fleet of lawyers is probably quite impressive and capable as well. In addition, since Metro AG does operate in several countries they probably were prepared to sue and fight Microsoft in each of them, which could have possibly turned into a very expensive, drawn-out, and multi-faceted legal battle for Microsoft. Perhaps Microsoft thought that the re-branding of Metro, even at this late stage in the game, to Modern UI was actually the less painful of the two courses? I really don't know and am only speculating here. In any case, I really hope that more information about this fiasco eventually comes out because I would really like to know what happened behind the scenes here. An exposé about this whole thing would be fascinating.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Modern UI

""Microsoft" for a company that develops software for microcomputers."

I think you are wrong there !

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KDE skin

"Modern" is, IIRC, a skin for KDE, and has been for about 10 years…

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Possible Names

Well, since Windows 8 is the operating system, a name for the native user interface of the Windows 8 operating system is needed. Calling it the Windows 8 Modern User Interface is unique enough.

But if they wanted something catchy, after dropping Metro, they could have called it Cosmo or Cosmopolitan; another possibility would be Manhattan.

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"The Manhattan project"

Good choice. It's going to blow up in their face.

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Pint

Microsoft OS pattern

Long ago it was noted that there's a tempo to the OSes coming out of Microsoft.

Bad Bad Good Bad Bad Good Bad Bad Good Bad Bad Good...

The latest Win 7 was Good. Thus this Win 8/Metro/whatever thingy is almost certainly the first of two Bads.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Microsoft OS pattern

Back when Win Me and Win Vista arrived, Microsoft didn't 'bet the farm' and go all-in onto a single product.

Only this time, the 'bad' (formerly known as Metro UI) of Windows 8 is spread across desktops, tablets, phones, Office 2013, Metro-style IE10... even Visual Studio 2012.

If Windows 8 fails, there will be a chain-domino reaction and other products will also fail.

Almost everyone is going to stick with Win7 (or Vista/XP), or as long as they can.

I loosely quote a line from Seinfeld:

"That's not going to be good for business. That's not going to be good for anybody."

I predict Steve Ballmer will be booted out faster than you can mutter 'developers', and Windows 8 SP2 a.k.a Windows 9 will arrive in 2014 to rectify things.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, tech advances very fast these days, and a lot of things can happen within two years. Consequently, Windows 9 may not bring 'redemption' like Windows 7 had done.

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Hmm

I remember a Tiled GUI, some while before Windows 1.0

How is this "modern"? Instead of "touch screen with finger" we had "touch screen with light pen", which meant that large areas of black could not be used. Some screens had three brightnesses of green and black.

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Anonymous Coward

Modern UI?

What a load of balls.

Oh, sorry... rectangles.

(And doesn't Apple own them?)

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Thumb Up

Let's give Micro$oft some credit!

They could've done Apple style crusade, and bang German company WW2 style.

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WTF?

Rock and hard place.

All this criticism of the new UI. But what choice does MS have? Touch is the current big advance in UI, can anyone say for certain that in 5 years there won't be more tablet devices than desktops? MS has to do something to counter the rise of the ipad, but no one seems to be presenting a better idea, just criticism of their approach. Yes, merging a desktop OS with a mobile UI might not be the greatest solution, but how else is MS to incorporate touch into it's OS?

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Re: Rock and hard place.

> Yes, merging a desktop OS with a mobile UI might not be the greatest solution,

If it is a 'solution' then the question is: what is the problem?

The problem for Microsoft is that its business model requires increasing revenue. This keep the stock price up and allows it to cover many of it costs (salaries) with stock options. This keeps its tax down and its profits up because the options don't cost it much.

Forecasts show that desktop sales have stagnated and may well decline. Apple has taken much of this because users choose to buy an iPad instead of buying a new replacement desktop. Microsoft failed to get any traction in the mobile mobile and has declined in the phone market. It had ~40% of smartphone with WM, yet WP7 failed to get above 5th place.

MS needs to counter its stagnant desktop revenue by getting revenue from Surface, tablet OS sales, phone sales and, importantly, app store and high-street store sales. ie it needs to take revenue from Apple, OEMs and retail 'partners'.

Consultants seem to have blamed WP7 lack of sales on the UI being unfamiliar compared to iOS and Android. The solution then is to make 'Metro' "the most familiar UI". Once Metro becomes familiar, so their logic goes, the users will _demand_ it on their phones and tablets and also that users will want all three devices (including desktop) and to operate the same and interwork via 'the cloud' and to buy all their software via the app store.

The 'solution' to Microsoft's future revenue problem is to force 'the UI formerly known as Metro' down desktop (and XBox) user's throats until they bloody well like it. Whether Metro is a good UI or wanted by users is irrelevant because Microsoft has no other available way of getting to where it thinks the next revenue stream will come from.

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Re: Rock and hard place.

What you're saying saying is that Microsoft is in the same bad shape as e.g. Nokia or RIM. Or basically anyone else except Apple and Samsung.

Perhaps it is time we let ALL these dinosaurs die. Haven't those rich bastards grabbed enough money already? Isn't it about time for others to get filthy rich?

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Re: Rock and hard place.

I think the point you are missing is about the difference between data consumption and data entry/creation. MS spent 1.7 oodles of dollars finding out what works for a desktop interface. The fact that the original idea came from GEM is of no consequence as just about every GUI in mainstream use follows the same principles. The keyboard and mouse are similar in this respect, everybody uses them because they are for certain types of task far faster than anything else. Yes, you can tap here or there on a touch screen to initiate a function but the resolution of a finger is far far less than that of a mouse meaning that fewer functions can be enabled per area of screen.

The keyboard is still pre-eminent for data entry because even though the layout is specifically designed to slow typists down, it is several times faster than hand writing with a stylus or any sort on any medium and many times faster than trying to write with a single finger of a piece of glass.

Yes there will be new technoglogies or refinements to existing ones. Who knows, even speech recognition may become sufficiently accurate in a sufficiently wide range of environments that speech becomes the prefered means of interacting with a computer.

If you have not tried Windows 8 with Gaytro UI, I suggest you try it on your desktop so you can have a feel for what these comments are about.

On other significant difference between a device like a smartphone/ipad and a desktop is the the complexity of task which each device is expected to perform. There are lots of pretty applications out there for the afore mentioned, but they are far more limited in what they do than apps (or Programs as we used to call them) on a desktop machine are.

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Thats it...

How much do these fucking idiots get paid for coming up with this shite.

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FAIL

How the Mighty fall.

Who would believe KODAK would ever go belly up?

That IBM would get out of making computers?

That Nokia could fail?

Sure MS might carry on in server-world for quite a while, and Office probably won't vanish overnight... but a consumer / business desktop OS producer?

Given the PR smell from MS these days (equal mixture or fear, panic and bullshit) maybe Windows 7 will be the Last Great Windows OS.

Come on Gabe, make a Steam-blessed LINUX OS....

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Re: How the Mighty fall.

The funny thing is that they all have themselves to blame.

Nokia: EVERYBODY is telling/screaming/yelling that ditching your own OS in favour of an immature already failed Microsoft OS is/was a VERY BAD idea. Yet they KEEP persuing it. I mentioned this at their official blog and some Nokia rep kept telling me that HE believe they made the right choice. They're obviously blind as a bat and brainwashed beyond belief.

Microsoft: EVERYBODY is telling that the "UI fromerly known as Metro" AKA UFKAM is NOT suitable for the classic desktop. Yet they keep enforcing it.

To me it's clear. Both Microsoft and Apple are turning into "toy facturies". Apple building mediaplayers and enhanced featurephones and probably other portable devices (they already ditched Mac OS server). And Microsoft is literally becoming a console and soon handheld xbox-a-like maker. Because I'm convinced that the only thing keeping their business afloat for now is XBox (and associated peripherals/software). Their XBox integration into WP7 is also seen as their biggest asset since the OS itself is as crippled as a 5 1/4 inch floppy disk in 2012.

As it is today it may well be that Samsung coupled with Google are getting the most powerfull positions on the market. Until they fall which eventually they will. In my book Samsung already has fallen with their crappy plastic fragile phones and horrible after sale service. Not to mention their flooding the market with shoddy consumer products (whom always have something horrible wrong either in design or in features)

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Anonymous Coward

Modern UI? Seriously?

Was that really the best name the entire marketing department at Microsoft could come up with? The moment you call anything modern you have given it a six month shelf life before it becomes dated and irrelevant.

This really indicates to me that even most of Microsoft isn't behind the Metro change.

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Re: Modern UI? Seriously?

I don't know why they just dont call it Fred.

Or maybe Jeffrey.

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This post has been deleted by its author

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Coat

Re: Modern UI? Seriously?

or Bob?

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Re: Modern UI? Seriously?

"Bungle" would be more apt.

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Windows

Now

I've had time to reflect on windows 8 and I can see where microsoft are going with this

You see they've come up with the metro/modern ui thing for windows 8, convincing themselves that its the best thing ever, yet in tests and comments , 90% of people say its a bag of poo.

But the product is too far along to go around ripping out the UI and replacing it with something better.

So they are going to push windows 8 and its crap ui for all they are worth.

Come 2014 and OS sales are on a freefall to oblivion, Windows 9 with its 'classic' or 'retro' UI will become available.....and its 25% more expensive than windows 8

See 'new coke' vs 'classic coke' for more details

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Anonymous Coward

One Word: Apple

Are Microsoft hell-bent on getting the entire consumer market off Windows and onto Mac OS X? Because that is what is happening now and will hit 2nd gear when this steaming pile of dog doo hits the market.

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Windows

Boy are a lot of you deluded.

This will be a massive success as far as making money is concerned.

Every new PC from around the end of the year on will have one choice when buying in the consumer sector and that's Win8, Millions upon Millions of PC's sold with Win8 means mega bucks for MS.

What alternative is there ? OSX is not possible except on Apple kit and that costs 2-3 times more, linux etc is unknown for most and they will not even consider it. Plus good luck finding a major PC maker supplying it as a choice.

You can knock it all you want but a more likely future is many get used to the Win8 UI and are happy with it once they have used it for a while, then those that matter directors etc will be asking their IT departments why they can't have a phone, tablet, desktop, laptop with same OS to do all the work on in the workplace as it makes sense to them.

Yes it would be nice to have an update to install the start button again but I don't see it happening as MS are obviously looking to become the top player in both mobile and desktop/laptop and see this as the only hope as getting their mobile business to have a chance.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Boy are a lot of you deluded.

Do not delete your comment, we'll get back to you at the next Microsoft earnings call.

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