updated 09:08 am EDT, Thu May 9, 2013
Microsoft said to be responsive to OEM feedback on Windows 8
Acer Chairman J.T. Wang has said that Microsoft is starting to listen more closely to its OEM partners following the troubled launch of Windows 8, reports the Wall Street Journal. Wang indicated that he thought that that Microsoft has had its head in the clouds until recently, "But now the go down to earth and they start to learn how people living on earth think." Acer President Jim Wong also added that Microsoft is becoming more "considerate" to its partners and has been baking in their suggestions into Windows Blue, the first major update to Windows 8 due later this year.
As Microsoft has hinted as much itself, Windows Blue (which is expected to become officially known as Windows 8.1) is expected to see a return to Microsoft's more traditional operating system paradigm. Currently, the OS places a heavy emphasis on its touch-based interface at the expense of the traditional desktop. Comments made by Wang indicate that this is likely to change with Windows Blue.
"When we were talking to Microsoft, our input to them is balance," said Wong. "The world in the next five years is not going 100 percent to touch. Although touch makes a lot of possibilities for PCs, you need to take care of the rest of the world that doesn't need touch," he argued.
Microsoft Windows division CFO Tami Reller revealed earlier this weekthat Windows Blue will indeed reflect customer feedback. "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," said Reller. "From a company-wide perspective, Windows Blue is part of a broader effort to advance our devices and services for Microsoft," she added.
Among the changes expected to arrive in Windows Blue include the return of the "Start" button to the desktop, along with the option to boot directly into the desktop. Currently, Windows 8 treats the desktop as an app that is launched from the Windows 8 Startscreen. When in the desktop mode, users wanting to launch apps are forced to either return to the Startscreen to search for apps, or use the search function in the Charm bar to find their app, which has created a lot of frustration amongst users.
Windows Blue is also expected to usher in cheaper and smaller Windows 8 tablets, which should also help to get more customers interested in Windows 8 devices. This is also expected to help boost developer interest in developing more apps for the Windows store. Currently, the number of touch-optimized apps available trails well behind tablet-optimized apps for Apple's iPad, the touch-based tablet market leader.