The most anticipated feature of Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 10, set for release on Wednesday, isn’t some new application. It’s the return of the traditional Start screen, which Microsoft ditched in August 2012, with Windows 8.
For that reason, Windows 10 is a lot like Coca-Cola Classic.
Let me explain.
Microsoft is marketing Windows 10 as “familiar, yet better than ever.”
Hubris in a mature market leader sometimes has a uncomfortable reward. I don’t think it is too late for Microsoft to recover and hopefully Satya Nadella realizes the right way to mine gold from a mature market. Unlike Steve Ballmer.
Tim Culpan and Dina Bass from Bloomberg have got a scoop – Microsoft Said to Cut Windows Price 70% to Counter Rivals:
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is cutting the price of Windows 8.1 by 70 percent for makers of low-cost computers and tablets as they try to fend off cheaper rivals like Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Chromebooks, people familiar with the program said.
Manufacturers will be charged $15 to license Windows 8.1 and preinstall it on devices that retail for less than $250, instead of the usual fee of $50, said the people, who asked not to be named because the details aren’t public. The discount will apply to any products that meet the price limit, with no restrictions on the size or type of device, the people said.
It won’t require products that use the cheaper licensing to complete logo certification, a process that verifies hardware compatibility, one of the people said. Devices aren’t required to be touch-screen compatible, they said.
While the regular Windows list price was $50, some of the largest global computer makers paid closer to $30 after incentives such as marketing funds provided by Microsoft, the people said. Products that receive discounted license fees won’t be eligible for such marketing support and incentives, one of the people said.
Free always beats fee as long as the free product is good enough and Chromebooks are evidently good enough for a lot of folks. Microsoft could try to appeal to the carriage trade like Apple but are way behind on both low end apps and cachet. I don’t really think a price cut is going to give Microsoft much more traction.
David Pogue at the New York Times: Windows, Revamped and Split in 2:
I mean the two different worlds within Windows 8 alone, one designed primarily for touch screens, the other for mouse and keyboard. Individually, they are excellent — but you can’t use them individually. Microsoft has combined them into a superimposed, muddled mishmash called Windows 8, which goes on sale Friday at prices ranging from $15 to $40, depending on the offer and version.
You can easily imagine how Microsoft got here. “PC sales have slowed,” some executive must have said. “This is a new age of touch screens! We need a fresh approach, a new Windows. Something bold, fluid and finger-friendly.”
“Well, hold on,” someone must have countered. “We can’t forget the 600 million regular mouse-driven PCs. We also need to update Windows 7 for them!”
And then things went terribly wrong.
“Hey, I know!” somebody piped in. “Let’s combine those two Windows versions into one. One OS for all machines. Everybody’s happy!”
Hey, what could go wrong?
Unfortunately, in Windows 8, you can’t live exclusively in one world or the other.
Even if all your programs live in TileWorld, you’ll still have to use Desktop Windows to work with files or disks, connect to networked folders or open the Control Panel. And even if all of your programs live in Desktop Windows, your PC still starts up in TileWorld, and you still have to use TileWorld to perform tasks like searching and address-book lookups.
The free program Pokki helps a lot. It restores the Start menu to the desktop, and can even take you straight there at start-up.
Even so, two worlds means insane, productivity-killing schizophrenia. The Windows 8 learning curve resembles Mount Everest.
When users have to rely on someone else’s free program to make your UI work for them, you have a problem. Pokki isn’t the only one who noticed this either. PC makers like Lenovo and Samsung have their own Start menu programs as do other 3rd party software vendors.
It’s should be no surprise that Microsoft is updating their built-in apps for Windows 8:
With Windows 8, we also introduced a new Store for Windows 8 apps, as well as a number of new apps that are included with Windows. We already have thousands of apps in the Windows Store, even before GA, and we’re working with developers from around the world to bring more in every day. The Windows Store represents an unprecedented opportunity for developers to reach hundreds of millions of customers, and we’re very pleased to see the exciting things that are showing up every day.
Gotta love that Apple iTunes App Store model. The question is how much traction it will get in the anarchic Windows world.
Of course, we are also taking advantage of the integrated way that we can deliver updates to apps through the Windows Store. Leading up to GA for Windows 8, we will be releasing updates for many of the apps that were included with the release to manufacturing (RTM) build of Windows 8 that was delivered to PC makers and to MSDN and TechNet subscribers in August. Naturally, these app updates will also be available to PC makers to include by default with their PCs shipping in the future, but for those of you who have already installed Windows 8 RTM, it is super easy to get the updates from the Store app. The Store tile will notify you when updates are available, and you can open it and click the updates link in the top right corner to see the list and install the ones you want.
The Bing app will be the first one out, available tomorrow, and more updates will roll out up until Oct 26th. You will be notified of Windows Store updates just as you have come to expect, with a count of available updates on the Store tile. You can easily choose to install the updates at a convenient time.
Hit the link for the list of improvements for built-in applications. There’s more than just blocky monochromatic icons.