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Windows 8.1 - a step forward or continuing in the wrong direction?

05 July 2013 / 19:07:11  GRReporter
4635 reads

Ivan Petkov

For the IT industry "Developers, developers, developers" is what "Location, location, location" means for real estate. Every software company is aware of the fact that the developers constitute the core that drives the business. This applies mainly to the operating systems, whether they are mobile or targeted to the traditional desktop devices. This symbolic replica belongs to no other than the Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft Steve Ballmer. I am beginning with it because today we are going to "talk" about Microsoft and the Build 2013 developer conference which took place in San Francisco. The new operating system Windows 8.1 occupied a central place in it. With Windows 8, the giant from Redmond has introduced a new cycle of innovation and development of its most popular product. Until recently, Microsoft used to launch a new version every few years and to presenting service packs, updates and minor innovations in the meantime.
The change in the market dynamics, the merger of desktop and mobile operating systems, Microsoft’s lagging behind in the mobile segment have driven the company to abandon the model which had worked in its favour in the past and turn to a new, faster development cycle which will present a new version of Windows each year. Shortly before the conference, there was some talk about an enhanced reorganization within the company. It will integrate the units dealing with Windows and Windows Phone, the desktop and mobile versions of the operating system to enhance the cooperation between the different teams. The integrated team will strive to gradually merge the mobile and desktop operating systems, providing a fully unified user experience regardless of whether we are using a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone. All other devices except smartphones are combining the new concept of personal computer which Microsoft is trying to impose.

Windows 8.1 – is it what Windows 8 was supposed to be?

Following the radical change, perhaps the most significant one in the history of Windows, its successor is to remove the rough edges and to respond to the discontent of a significant part of its users. Windows 8 had received a cold reception and mixed feelings mainly due to the removal of the Start Menu which had been present in the operating system since 1995. It was replaced by a completely new working environment developed primarily for touch-screen devices. The dissatisfaction mainly of users of laptop and desktop computers was due to the fact that the working environment developed for touch screens was not suitable for the use of a mouse and keyboard. Moreover, the change was so drastic that many users with basic computer literacy had faced difficulties in understanding and mastering the new user interface.

The new Charm Menu, the absence of the start button as well as the lack of multitasking in "Metro" (or "Modern UI", which is its new name) were criticized as well. The sizing of the tiles and the absence of basic functionalities from the new "Metro" applications and the system start-up in the new "Metro" environment, part of which is the traditional desktop environment, were other reasons for the negative reception of Windows 8.

Microsoft rushed to announce that it was working on a new version, thus showing that it listens to the recommendations of its users. The company had reasons to hurry because, in 2012, there was a drop in the sales of personal computers for the first time in their history. The partners of Microsoft which manufacture them were not late in criticizing the company saying that Windows 8 was further slowing down the market instead of reviving it. The company from Redmond which holds over 90% of the market share of operating systems for traditional computers was pressed both by the users and producers. No wonder then that many people have been anticipating Windows 8.1 to see if Microsoft will be able to calm its customers and partners down and make them enthusiastic .

Very small innovations for such a great update.

Appearance and personalization

The first change the user faces is the home screen of the new operating system. It offers the option of directly receiving Skype calls without entering a password. You can also take pictures which is useful for mobile devices. A personalization element is the option of making a collage of photos from the gallery or SkyDrive (the cloud service of Microsoft).

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