Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Windows GUI Operating Systems Upgrades

Microsoft Confirms Windows 8.1 Spring Update, To Focus On Non-touch Devices 172

Posted by timothy
from the iteration-station dept.
SmartAboutThings writes "At a special event at the Mobile World Congress, Microsoft has announced the 'spring' update for Windows 8.1. Joe Belfiore, who is the head of platform at Microsoft for smartphones, tablets and desktop devices, said the Windows 8.1 update will come with improvements for non-touch devices. Belfiore also said the update will focus on bringing back some of the 'old' features to Windows 8.1, such as the much-hyped start button, but this won't have a negative impact on the touch experience."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft Confirms Windows 8.1 Spring Update, To Focus On Non-touch Devices

Comments Filter:
  • 99% (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @09:31AM (#46315719)

    said the Windows 8.1 update will come with improvements for non-touch devices

    What a fantastic strategy -- to put a few afterthoughts into 99% of their market...

    • Re:99% (Score:5, Insightful)

      by chalkyj (927554) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @09:39AM (#46315757)
      It'll be nice to use server 2013 without having to battle with a "touch screen optimised" interface. I guess they over estimated how many people are running server 2013 on tablets.
      • This is exactly why I'm running exchange on 2011. Also they killed exchange from SBS when they called it "Essentials". Wish I could ditch it, but I don't have time to rewrite all the legacy stuff that has been added.

      • Re:99% (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Solandri (704621) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @02:55PM (#46317639)
        It's really simple. The only way to install a Metro app is through Microsoft's Store. There are exceptions for developers and corporate in-house software. But for the traditional business model where Party A makes the software, Party B buys it and uses it, you can only do it by selling the software in the Store.

        If you sell through the Store, Microsoft takes a 30% cut of all revenue.

        That's what this is all about. Microsoft wants 30% of Adobe's, Intuit's, SAP's, Oracle's, etc's revenue. Their plan to make this happen is to get all users (including corporate ones) to use Metro apps. If the users accept it, then the developers will be forced to make Metro apps and sell it through the Store. And Microsoft gets a 30% cut. Of everything.

        That's why they're forcing Metro down users' throats. That's why the "Start" button isn't really a start button but dumps you straight into Metro - it's a one-button access to where the Store is. That's why your Windows Server pushes Metro apps. It's all to get you to buy and use Metro apps, so developers will start selling Metro apps.

        (And yes I realize this is Apple's walled garden model with iOS. I don't really have as much problem with it there because iOS devices are generally not productivity devices so most apps are priced $0 to $10. Not $100 to over $1000 like many Windows productivity apps. And no this is not Google's model. Yes Google takes a 30% cut of apps sold in the Play store, but they don't restrict where you get your apps from. It's easiest to get them from the Play store, but you can get them from any other store, or side-load them via microSD or USB or even directly from a website. Basically the current state of Windows software is like the Android environment where an optional store charges 30%, and Microsoft is trying to transition it to be like the iOS environment where the only store charges 30%.)
        • I don't really have as much problem with it there because iOS devices are generally not productivity devices so most apps are priced $0 to $10. Not $100 to over $1000 like many Windows productivity apps.

          Oracle, PeopleSoft and other IT software are all moving to the browser as the user inteface to construct SQL queries and run the software in the servers. They would switch to linux rather than pay 30% tax to Microsoft. Almost all the IT development could be done using the browser as the user interface. No metro needed for them.

          But there are other tools that can not run in the browser. Not just the creative studio from Adobe or the video editors. The CAD/CAM software is very expensive. ANSYS High Frequency

        • You're missing the part where Server 2012 and the R2 variant don't come with the Store enabled, and Metro apps don't work out of the box. You only get the Start Screen part of Metro unless you install the desktop experience components.
        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          They think that they can get the same piece of the pie that Apple is getting from its store. Except that the Apple store is driven by a mix fanatical followers and people who buy apps because all the other kids in school are doing it. Microsoft doesn't have that same type of fan base. And you don't even need to use the Apple Store if you're using one of their computers rather than a phone/tablet.

      • I guess they over estimated how many people are running server 2013 on tablets.

        Microsoft may have assumed that system administrators might RDP into a server from a Surface tablet. Then Surface tablets failed to sell in the numbers that Microsoft hoped.

        • by cbhacking (979169)

          They actually underestimated Surface Pro sales and had supply line problems for a while, but Surface RT definitely didn't sell as well as hoped.

          That said, even Surface RT supports mouse-and-keyboard input (either through the Touch or Type Covers, through Bluetooth, or through USB) so while touch-through-RDP does work well enough, it's not necessarily reasonable to assume that somebody trying to do remote admin from a Surface (or one of the many other Win8 tablets and handful of other Windows RT tablets) *wo

    • Afaict microsoft's greatest threat in recent has not been that windows would be replaced on the desktop/laptop but that computing would shift away from desktops/laptops (where they hold a near monopoly) to smartphones/tablets (where they are an also-ran).

      Afaict MS thought that by forcing metro (tablet interface+forced appstore) onto desktops and laptops they could both gain a footing in the tablet market and also get some of that easy money that apple enjoys from their appstore.

      Unfortunately for MS it hasn'

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bing Tsher E (943915)

        Not anymore. You can now get a full x86 tablet with 8.1 for about the same price as a Nexus. It's still not for sure how things will settle, but this might be the point at which Tablets become something more than a toy to the public at large.

        It would be a delicious irony if the entry of affordable regular Windows onto Tablets became the hinge point for their mainstream acceptance. Maybe Apple will soon be forced by the market to sell an OSX tablet.

        • by norite (552330)

          Unfortunately for MS, it's too late and the damage has been done. Folks have looked for alternatives like Android, Windows 7, Chromebooks, Apple and Linux. On the desktop, win8 is a catastrophic abortion of epic proportions. Metro should have been left on tablets/phones.

          Sacrificing 99% of your user base for the sake of 1% is insanity. They must man up and admit their mistakes, but as 8.1 shows. they haven't. They haven't a got a single clue.

          • They must man up and admit their mistakes, but as 8.1 shows. they haven't.

            On the contrary, finally pushing Ballmer out was their admission that it had all gone wrong. 8.1 is just mitigation, their new direction will be decided by the new CEO, and as he's only be in place for 3 weeks, it's way too early to expect to see it publicly yet.

            Don't get me wrong. MS is fucked. But it's not that they don't know it.

    • Actually what happened what they realized "hey...we want to make money."
  • Start button? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @09:38AM (#46315749)
    The article talks about the "start button" making a comeback, but it obviously did in 8.1 already. Are they actually talking about Start Menu?
    • Re:Start button? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @10:29AM (#46315935) Homepage Journal

      8.1 start button is just a link to the start screen.

      if they really want to follow up on the ui designers bullshit line that they want to have the "power user"(someone who uses desktop, lol) interface as well.. then they have to get off their ass and do a proper start menu built in.

      I use win8.1, I've seen the start screen maybe 2 weeks ago last time.. and then I was installing some unsigned drivers(for sanguinololu, and yeah.. you have to go through one step in metro to do that.. which makes no sense if you believe that the ui guys reddit comments weren't just total damage control grade A bullshit).

    • Re:Start button? (Score:4, Informative)

      by _xeno_ (155264) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @10:30AM (#46315947) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, that's what I thought too, but reading the article, I think they may actually have meant the Start Button. Apparently the idea is to make it look more like the round button it is in Windows 7.

      Because that's clearly the problem.

      Reading other articles on the update it's clear that there are some minor fixes to using Metro with a mouse (right clicking will bring up a traditional context menu instead of bringing it up on the bottom of the screen), but the Start Menu (you know, what people actually want back) still will not be returning.

      • by Ark42 (522144)

        I don't really see what the big deal is. I just got a new laptop with Windows 8.1 on it. First time ever actually using Windows 8, and at first, I was disgusted by the start 'screen'... but after a VERY short while, I realized that it was basically just a full-screen start menu that let you organize things by importance (how big the tile is) and also lets you see everything at once, vs the old way of having to carefully navigate up and right and into the menu hierarchy. Do I really need to see my open windo

        • Re:Start button? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by _xeno_ (155264) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @11:15AM (#46316169) Homepage Journal

          Do I really need to see my open windows and part of my desktop behind the start menu when I'm just clicking to start a program? Not really.

          Actually... yes. You do. Believe it or not.

          There's a concept called "doorway amnesia" where you'll tend to "forget" what it was you're doing when your surroundings change entirely. It's why everyone has experienced walking into a room and then forgetting why they went there in the first place. By entirely replacing the desktop and changing your context, it makes it harder to remember why you opened the Start Screen in the first place.

          The rest of the complaints have to do with it being slower to use than the start menu thanks in part to the transition animations. My personal annoyance is that not everything you have installed shows up there, instead they're hidden behind the down arrow. Yes, yes, you can "pin them to start" but after installing a new app, it always initially confuses me when I go looking for it and it isn't on the Start Screen.

          Windows renders everything to an off-screen 96dpi buffer, then just scales that up 200%.

          Does Windows do the bilinear filtering thing that the Retinal MacBooks do? I saw one running in a store, and the way it handles non-DPI aware apps is bilinearly scaling it up. Made the entire thing look very blurry.

          • by Ark42 (522144)

            Well you can always turn on the option to show your same desktop wallpaper behind the start screen. Might help some. I for one LOVE the fact that I don't have to manually delete all the crap extra icons programs install on the start menu like I used to on Win 7 and below. I can just leave all the garbage in the down-arrow screen and type-to-search the few things I want, and pin just those to the main screen. Once you remove all the junk on the start screen that came there by default, you can easily get a sc

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Once you remove all the junk on the start screen that came there by default, you can easily get a screen that doesn't even need to scroll sideways and fit all the commonly used icons there, neatly organized.

              So it's like the desktop?

              • by Ark42 (522144)

                I guess, except the Desktop always gets cluttered with files... and you can't make icons 4 difference sizes at once depending on how important the icon is on the desktop, and you can't really group or label icons like the start screen does, unless maybe you fix it into your wallpaper or use folders, which seems silly.

            • Wow, this looks like simulating a bad VGA cable, or even a CRT monitor with bad convergence. Microsoft at least ought to disable Cleartype when rendering fonts in low PPI scaled up apps.
              On the other hand your task bar looks awesome - when the icons are vector graphics or very high res.

              • by Ark42 (522144)

                Yeah, I can't think of any reason they should have kept ClearType on behind the scenes when scaling is done like that. It's just plain stupid.

                I think it was back when XP came out that Microsoft started recommending all apps include a 256x256 alpha-channel icon instead of just 16x16 and 32x32 and 16/256 color with palette transparency. Any app that actually follows those specs will scale down the icon to the 64x64 needed in that screenshot. The stupid thing is it's all MS apps that don't follow the guideline

                • This story made me look up how to change pinned icons in the task bar.
                  http://www.howtogeek.com/howto... [howtogeek.com]

                  I never knew it simply was a directory with shortcuts in it :-) : %appdata%/Microsoft/Internet Explorer/Quick Launch/User Pinned/Taskbar

                  As for Cleartype they would have to update their font rendering code so it can be switched off/on extremely quickly. Or you can choose to leave it permanently off - I would like to experiment with sub-pixel rendering on/off to get for myself an idea of how it looks like at

                  • by Ark42 (522144)

                    I know it can be turned on/off in code already, because application can choose to ignore system defaults and use or not use ClearType on their own already.

              • by Ark42 (522144)

                So I generated this B&W example of what this issue does to the fonts, when you take into account RGB sub-pixels: http://ark42.com/win8.1/192dpi... [ark42.com]
                It's really quite terrible.

        • by evilad (87480)

          The worst thing about the hiDPI support is that they clearly *thought* about multi-monitor mixed-DPI support, and then utterly failed in execution. The "let me choose different DPIs for different screens" is so horribly broken that I can't even tell how it's supposed to work.

          • by Ark42 (522144)

            Apps have to opt-in to being able to support that via a new manifest setting. Older apps, even ones that declare them selves DPI-aware, will just get the setting of the monitor that they open up on, then scale pixels if you drag the window to a different screen. Newer apps can now add a new per-screen-DPI-aware manifest setting, and then listen to some API calls to rescale themselves when needed I guess. Seems like a lot of work for corner cases for most people really, compared to, you know, having one prog

            • Projector scenarios are likely the killer-app for "per monitor DPI", and it's not actually all that rare in enterprise settings.

    • The article talks about the "start button" making a comeback, but it obviously did in 8.1 already. Are they actually talking about Start Menu?

      There's always a workaround...

      http://www.howtogeek.com/12769... [howtogeek.com]

      http://www.howtogeek.com/10771... [howtogeek.com]

      • I have been surprised how well Classic Shell integrates to Win8. After installation, it feels like a core component of Windows. No taped-on feeling or anything.

        I wonder how it "taps on" to the Start Button click? One might think that it's quite tricky to intercept something like that.

    • Anti Slashdot and windows fanboy site, neowin.net mentioned mini start making a comeback in Windows 9 with 3 personas. Touch first, keyboard first and voice first.

      8.1 update one included jumplists for tiles and power being on the top of the screen. Yes MS heard us and is reversing.

  • Spring? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rossdee (243626)

    The time of spring varies in different parts of the world. Where I was brought up, spring was in late September or early October, and where I live now its in May.

    • by tepples (727027)

      The time of spring varies in different parts of the world.

      Microsoft's primary headquarters is in Greater Seattle, not Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa.

  • by GrBear (63712) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @09:58AM (#46315827)

    The best use of a Windows 8 license is to downgrade to Windows 7.

    • by fermion (181285)
      will come with improvements for non-touch devices

      I thought this meant that user would be able to boot to a Windows 7 type interface. That is about the only way to improve the user experience. Apple made the same mistake. In trying to make their office productivity suite work on the iPad, they destroyed many useful features. The also killed compatibility between file format as MS did in the late 90's.

      In a profit driven world, the changes are going to follow the perceived direction of the market. For

    • by Uberbah (647458)

      Could even say upgrade to Windows 7. Just as Windows XP was an ease-of-use and performance upgrade over Vista.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23, 2014 @10:03AM (#46315843)

    You put a gigantic switch in the Control Panel somewhere: "Enable touchscreen UI (recommended for tablet use) / Disable touchscreen UI (recommended for desktop use)". Throw the switch to the latter option and you get something that approximates the Windows 7 UI. You could even call it "Classic" mode, like has been done for the last 2 versions of Windows. Nobody liked the default Windows XP "Playschool" theme. Many people didn't like the default Windows 7 theme. They were no big deal. Make it easy for users to choose, and people will complain a lot less about the defaults. Give them no choice and, yeah, they're going to complain bitterly (Windows 8), until third-parties step in to fix the problem (e.g., Classic Shell).

    Stick an "Advanced" button in there to allow tweaking of individual features.

    Microsoft is the last one I would have thought needed to be schooled about the value of choice, but they made the same mistake with the recent versions of Office. Experiment, but please have some respect for what users of your product have already learned.

    • You put a gigantic switch in the Control Panel somewhere: "Enable touchscreen UI (recommended for tablet use) / Disable touchscreen UI (recommended for desktop use)".

      This is probably something that is going to happen soon. It's bound to.

      • by michrech (468134)

        You put a gigantic switch in the Control Panel somewhere: "Enable touchscreen UI (recommended for tablet use) / Disable touchscreen UI (recommended for desktop use)".

        This is probably something that is going to happen soon. It's bound to.

        It's something that *should have been there from the Start*.

    • Don't you see that Microsoft is secretly helping us prevent degenerative brain diseases? Forcing us to learn a new UI is like learning a new language, which is correlated with better brain health. Thank you Microsoft! I bet their next step is to randomly move buttons around after every boot. Now that would be a great workout for the brain!
    • I don't think it should even be that. There's a specific touch gesture to get the start screen. You should get that when you use touch. You should get the other thing when you use mouse. And a hardware winkey on an actual keyboard should get the mouse one, and one on a tablet should get the touch one.

      And there *should* be a way to get the touch stuff via mouse and vice-versa, but the default should be optimized to what the user is using.

    • by batwingTM (202524)

      Well, sadly it isn't as simple as restoring a old UI, as the new UI was built from the begining specifically for touch devices. Even Apple recognised that a tablet OS and a desktop OS are two different things (although there is more commonality then there used to be)

      As for Office (2007 onwards) that is an even more ammusing story, which probably holds some understanding as to why Windows 8 is the way it is.

      Story goes that after Office 2003 was released MS asked a lot of their customers what they wanted to

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I moved to KDE on Debian and haven't looked back.

    You are hemorrhaging users to phones, tablets, OSX, gamers to game consoles, power users to Linux.... pretty much everything that isn't Windows. We told you people were only using Windows because there was no choice, but you failed to listen and use the chance to improve your technology. Now, it's too late. There are other choices, and people are moving to them. To quote B5:

    "The avalanche has begun. It is too late for the pebbles to vote."

    • by CRC'99 (96526)

      I moved to KDE on Debian and haven't looked back.

      You are hemorrhaging users to phones, tablets, OSX, gamers to game consoles, power users to Linux.... pretty much everything that isn't Windows. We told you people were only using Windows because there was no choice, but you failed to listen and use the chance to improve your technology. Now, it's too late. There are other choices, and people are moving to them. To quote B5:

      "The avalanche has begun. It is too late for the pebbles to vote."

      In a way, I agree - but I can't say that I like KDE or Gnome 3. I ended up settling on XFCE using Fedora 20. It boots fast, everything works as it should (except a PCI DVB card - but I already had a spare USB one that works fine).

      Thunderbird for email, Chrome for web browsing, terminal, Steam for my TF2 fix, and it all 'just works' - especially now the open source radeon driver does dynamic power management correctly.

      I'm just in the middle of purchasing a new laptop - and the first thing that will happen is

      • One drawback of ownCloud is that you'll probably have to either pay to lease an account from these guys [owncloud.org] or pay to upgrade your Internet connection to business class in order to satisfy TOS or CGNAT restrictions imposed by the ISP serving your area against running an externally accessible server at home.

        Another thing about the list of providers [owncloud.org] confuses me: Why does saxonsitsolutions.com.au have the Great Britain flag next to it when .com.au means Australia? And why does it have the Great Britain flag on

  • I am very very sure Microsoft will do very well with the non-touch devices. Who can even hold a candle to Microsoft when it comes to being out of touch with its customers?
  • by GrumblyStuff (870046) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @04:29PM (#46318235)

    It's NOT about the fucking start button. It's the old menu system. It's the dumb "charms" and hot spots and other touchscreen bullshit.

  • by Tony Isaac (1301187) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @05:42PM (#46318807) Homepage

    We found people weren’t aware of where they should look in the UI.

    Amazing, they must have finally done some actual usability testing!

I have not yet begun to byte!

Working...