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10 factors that hobbled Windows 8 and what Windows 8.1 might do to fix them

Tim Greene | June 28, 2013
From no Start button to the declining PC market, Microsoft has had a rough road.

5. Dearth of apps
In order to make people learn a new operating system and an unfamiliar touch interface, a set of compelling applications needed to drive demand, but the apps just weren't there. Microsoft has been hammering away to get developers on board writing these apps, and the Microsoft Store is about to clear 100,000 applications in its inventory. To its credit the company has held two developers' conferences in less than a year, giving developers free Windows 8 devices so they can experiment with the operating system and tried to sweeten the reimbursement they get for sales. But it's a work in progress. Developers tend to gravitate to the larger potential markets, and Windows 8 uptake so far  hasn't been so overwhelming that they're throwing themselves into Windows 8 app development.

6. Apps for business
Windows 8 supports all the business apps that could run on Windows 7, but that's not a compelling reason for them to buy Windows 8. They need core line-of-business apps that not only are written for the touch interface but that also perform tasks better or perform new tasks that existing Windows 7 apps don't. Again, that's a work in progress.

7. Timing
In addition to the supply problems, Microsoft missed the 2012 holiday season because the release of Windows 8 at the end of October really didn't give consumers enough time to build up enthusiasm for choosing Windows 8 computers as gifts. While Windows 8 is taking some of the blame for it, the sale of PCs in general has also been dropping and took a downward turn right about the time Windows 8 was available. So even if it didn't have other problems, demand was softening. With the advent of more Windows 8 tablets and combination devices, Microsoft may be able to grab more of the customers migrating from PCs to tablets.

8. A user-learnable but not intuitive user interface
Once up to speed on Windows 8, users can speed through it using the touchscreen, but there's a learning curve. Who would think to flick on the right side of the screen to find a set of system tools called charms that helps them navigate? Who would think to flick on the left side to find what other apps are running besides the one on screen? Just about nobody. The Windows 8 user interface takes some getting used to and given all the other complaints about it, the unfamiliar interface was just one more excuse not to try it. The user interface still represents a learning curve, and there's nothing Microsoft can do about that. But if apps and devices that make the OS hum are available at the right price, customers may be more willing to try it.


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