Rhodri Marsden: Windows 8 U-turn based on nagging fear users will desert Microsoft for Apple
Millions have downloaded utilities to bring back some traditional lements of Windows
Rhodri Marsden is the Technology Columnist for The Independent; he has also written about crumpets, Captain Beefheart, rude place names and string. He's also a musician who plays in the band Scritti Politti, and won the under-10 piano category at the 1980 Watford Music Festival by playing a piece called "Silver Trumpets" with verve and aplomb.
Wednesday 08 May 2013
There's been a picture meme doing the rounds on the internet for a few months now, which attempts to formulate a vague pattern around the success or otherwise of Microsoft's operating systems. Windows 3.1 was deemed good, Windows 95 bad. Windows 98 was good, Windows ME wasn't.
Windows XP great, Windows Vista not so. And with Windows 7 receiving critical praise, Windows 8 was, for the overly superstitious, always going to face an uphill struggle when it was launched in October last year.
Microsoft have bullishly announced that over 100m licenses of Windows 8 have been sold – but it's evident that sales are falling month-on-month in a way that sales of Windows 7 didn't. What's to blame? What's upsetting people so? After all, Windows 8's "Metro" design principles, ported across from Windows Phones, look rather beautiful. Sadly, however, "pretty" and "functional" are not the same thing; many would sacrifice the new, tasteful typography to have their Start Menu back, or for the Microsoft "ribbon" to not take up so much of the screen, or to work out how to find the Shut Down command.
Many of these complaints, it's true, can be put down to a fear of change from the "we preferred it the way it was" brigade; the same ones who whine whenever Facebook makes spontaneous layout changes. But regardless of whether Windows 8 works more efficiently under the bonnet, the user interface is, for most people, the only thing that matters. They're unsettled by drastic alterations, and millions have downloaded utilities such as Pokki, Start8 and Classic Shell to bring back some traditional elements of Windows.
Thanks to its huge success in the 1990s, Windows is globally dominant; well over a billion people are familiar with the Start Menu and its cousins. And while there's nothing wrong with bold change per se, relearning how to use a computer can be daunting on a personal level and expensive on a corporate one. The tweaks now being made by Microsoft to placate irate consumers seem to be predicated upon a nagging fear that if people feel like they have to learn something new, well, they might just buy a Mac.
Co-creator Mark Gatiss dropped some very intriguing hints ahead of the BBC drama's return next year
Life & Style blogs
World’s largest chocolate manufacturer adds voice to warnings of 'potential cocoa shortage by 2020'
We can't easily shut down Russian webcam hackers, admits Information Commissioner
GTA 5, Xbox One review: Next gen Los Santos is beautiful chaos
Unpaid make-up artists reveal the ugly side of Miss World
Google launches subscription service for the internet to replace ad revenue online
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Muslims pre-date Columbus in discovering America,' says Turkish president Erdogan
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Former Tory PM Sir John Major says 'we would not have an NHS without migrants'
G20 summit: David Cameron warns Vladimir Putin that Russia's relationship with the West is at a 'fork in the road' over Ukraine
- 1 'Not suppost to cry': 9-year-old lists the worst things about being a boy
- 2 Lee Evans announces his retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
- 3 Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
- 4 These grandmas smoking weed for the first time are wonderful
- 5 Pastafarian former porn star Asia Lemmon allowed to wear colander in driving licence photo
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Executive is required...
£37000 - £39000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: SQL Database Administrato...
£26000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Expanding creative studio requi...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits : Argyll Scott International: Senior Perl...