Microsoft finally confirmed that the previously leaked Windows 8.1 update will roll out in the in spring to increase the satisfaction level of 60% of Windows 8 haters stuck on non-touch-enabled PCs.
Well late to the party is better than not at all, as Microsoft seems to finally comprehend that its core OS audience is on a desktop machine not enabled for touch. During a press conference at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, former "Windows Phone guy" Joe Belfiore admitted that only 40% of Windows 8 users are on a touch-enabled device. The "satisfaction level is lower" for the remaining 60% of users on traditional PCs. That's being kind as Windows 8 on a laptop or a desktop that is not touch-enabled is a horribly frustrating and painful experience.
Belfiore said that changes to the Windows 8 user interface will "include 'discoverable Search, Power, and Settings,' meaning these three features would be visible on the Start screen," explained PCWorld. "There will also be a new mouse UI for right-clicking to start and close apps, and you'll be able to launch and switch apps from the taskbar."
Microsoft said it has sold 200 million Windows 8 licenses, making more Windows 8 / 8.1 users than all the users for OSX versions combined; yet only 40% of Windows 8 devices sold have touchscreens. If you have one of those touchscreen devices, or purchased a touch-enabled monitor for your desktop so Windows 8 would "hurt" less, Microsoft's repeated message to you is "We love touch."
Belfiore stated, "Some of these things leak and you can imagine how it feels to see people writing and speculating, so I want to set the record straight. We love touch." He added, "None of the work we are doing has a negative effect on the touch experience at all. We love touch."
Just in case Microsoft's position on loving touch is still not clear, Belfiore said on the Windows Phone blog:
"We are making improvements to the user interface that will naturally bridge touch and desktop, especially for our mouse and keyboard users. We have a number of targeted UI improvements that keep our highly satisfying touch experience intact, but that make the UI more familiar and more convenient for users with mouse/keyboard. Don't worry, we still LOVE and BELIEVE IN touch... but you'll like how much more smooth and convenient these changes make mouse and keyboard use!"
Bold emphasis and cap shouts are Microsoft's. Belfiore added:
With Windows 8, there's no doubt that we made a big bet and took a first step toward that future. We bet on touch and on mobility in a big way, and included a fresh take on what a touch-based interface could be for customers. We believe deeply in this direction and the future will continue to build on Windows 8.
Ah, the same old Microsoft after all, trying to placate everyone. At the press conference in Barcelona, Belfiore repeated Microsoft's intentions to not "degrade the touch experience," but wanted Windows 8 mouse-and-keyboard users to know, "Our measure is...Did we make things better for people without touchscreens?"
So when in the "spring" can we expect Windows 8.1 update 1? Belfiore did not say, but most "experts" expect the release during the BUILD developers' conference in April or on April's Patch Tuesday, April 8, which is also the last time Microsoft will issue security update support for Windows XP.
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