Microsoft servers around the world are dishing out a new version of Windows 8. The new version brings back a start button, something users said they missed.
A lot is riding on the success of the operating system, which is the backbone of Microsoft’s transformation into a devices company. It’s Microsoft’s effort to create a single experience for all Microsoft devices, from smartphone to tablet to laptop.
But touching tiles on a screen hasn’t translated well to the work world, where people still need a keyboard and mouse. Christopher Flores, director of communications for Windows, said Windows 8.1 smoothes the transition between the tile esthetic and the more functional side of computing. "We’ve taken a unique approach that allows us to blend both of these two input mechanisms together. And that’s really what sets us apart from the competition."
But Windows 8.1 needs more to win the competition. Michael Cherry researches Operating Systems at Directions on Microsoft, a consulting firm in Kirkland. He said Windows doesn’t have enough of the apps that people use to do work.
That’s partly because developers tend to build for Apple and Google first because their devices rule the market. Each company’s operating system is different, so developers must take the time to learn how to exploit each operating system to the fullest in building applications.
"If Microsoft is going to make this operating system matter and make their modern user interface matter, they’re going to have to convince developers that they either have the tools or the best platform or something that changes that equation," he said in an interview. Somehow, said Cherry, Microsoft needs to get to at least second place in developers’ minds.