Big Changes for Windows 8? Plus, XP Starts Death March - Technologist
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Big Changes for Windows 8? Plus, XP Starts Death March

Though Microsoft has released three major operating system since Windows XP, 39 percent of PCs world-wide still use the venerable, reliable, bullet-proof software, according to the Wall Street Journal. This creates a problem for Microsoft. Not only does it mean that 39 percent of the PCs haven’t had paid upgrades to the new platforms, but it also means that Microsoft has to continue dedicating resources to supporting, and securing, the elder statesman of operating systems.

Not for long, reports the Journal. The final countdown is on — and companies and law firms have one year to either upgrade to a more modern OS, or to purchase a custom support package from Microsoft (the latter is almost certainly a cost-prohibitive proposition).

As a life-long Windows user, I've noticed a distinct pattern with public response to versions of Windows:

  • Windows 95: Lauded, widely-adopted;
  • Windows 98: Train wreck, integrated Internet Explorer into the operating system, led to that antitrust mess;
  • Windows 98se (second edition): Fixed everything wrong with 98, widely adopted;
  • Windows ME (mistake millennium edition): crash-and-burn bloat-ware that served as a stopgap;
  • Windows XP: Widely loved, widely used to this day;
  • Windows Vista: Widely hated due to the constant security nag popups, bloatware;
  • Windows 7: Absolutely brilliant;
  • Windows 8: Where is my start button? And why is no one upgrading?

This, of course, begs the question: when's the next version of Windows coming out? If the pattern holds true, Windows Blue/8.1 will become the next widely-adopted OS.

The rumor is, the next release will happen this year, which might be part of an Apple-like "rapid release" system. Apple released a new version of their OS every year, each named after a cat (Lion, Snow Leopard, Mountain Lion, etc.). What this will do to the running joke about Microsoft's every-other-OS success is unknown, but from the leaks, Windows 8.1 could fix most of what users hate about the new OS.

For one, the start button might kinda come back. The Verge reports that the much-missed button will return, though it will not bring up the start menu. Instead, clicking it from the desktop will simply bring your Windows 8 live-tile screen up (hitting the "Windows" key on your keyboard already does this, FYI).

More important for business users, however, is the possible "boot to desktop" option. One of the factors likely playing into the slow adoption of the OS is the new live-tile interface and the hidden traditional desktop. If companies can boot to desktop, and have their proprietary programs on the familiar interface, there will be less need to train employees on the new OS. Plus, the desktop is a much more keyboard and mouse friendly interface than the new Live Tile screens.

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