Monday, April 7, 2014

Window 8 – Twenty Fourth Pass: Windows 8.1 Update Improvements

There is no doubt that Windows 8.1 Update has greatly improved the interface for traditional keyboard and mouse users.  There are tons of posts online about how a mouse user can now do as much as a touch user.  Many if not all of the improvements were already known about thanks to leaks before the release to MSDN and TechNet subscribers on April 2.  Now that the geeks have their hands on it, even more tweaks are popping up.

Some say that Microsoft has recanted and is admitting that they goofed by focusing too much on the touchscreen user and forgetting the legacy desktop users.  Legacy isn’t the right word here, desktop users are treated that way but traditional keyboard and mouse users are still the number one demographic of Windows users.

Microsoft says that isn't true.  They never abandoned the desktop users they just focused on touch first as that is where the hardware is going and they wanted to have that perfected before circling back around and making sure the keyboard and mouse users were satisfied.  I’m not buying it – not for a second.

If that were true then they would not have removed keyboard and mouse functionality only to later add it back in when the public began to fuss.  If that was true then they would have simply added the touch interface as opposed to removing legacy features in favor of new touch features that forced traditional users still using traditional hardware to re-learn how to use their computers.

Microsoft compared working on Windows to making pizza for over a billion people.  I think that’s a good analogy but they don't follow through with it.  If the world likes sausage (or keyboard and mouse functionality in Windows) then why would you remove the sausage only to add it back later when folks fussed that you removed something you knew they liked?

I've already blogged about Microsoft trying to make a single version of Windows fit both needs and it appears that they may be getting the recipe right so that it can work well for both touch and mouse users but it may be too late.  I've found that even though there are improvements to how I use my Surface when I have it docked to my keyboard and mouse that I’m falling back on old “bad habits” I learned as workarounds before the new features were released.  I find myself going for the charms menu a lot when that really isn't necessary anymore and forgetting that there are new right-click menus to make things easier and faster.

It will be interesting to see what the reviews are when the public gets access via Windows Update this week.  I predict a few calls from grandma once the Update installs automatically via Windows Update.

Another juicy tidbit confirmed is that the old Start Menu is coming back.  I've been predicting that for a while but it appears that is now a reality.  Microsoft has not said when it will come back.  It may be in another Windows 8.1 update or it may be in Windows 9.  Either way it is coming back and while it probably won't look like the Windows 7 Start Menu the functionality we are accustomed to will return in another step Microsoft takes not to recant but to improve the sausage they took away they knew we liked.