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Windows 8 goes sour as company announces U-turn

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 14th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It was done with the best of intentions. Windows 8 was supposed to recharge Microsoft, who has steadily been losing business to Apple's iPad tablets. Those promises went sour with a batch of customer complaints, and Microsoft has announced a humiliating "U-turn," which many saw is the most painful admission of corporate guilt since the failure of "New Coke."

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Microsoft will now overhaul Windows 8, after many customers said they found it impossible to navigate.

Originally announced as an operating system for both desktop computers and tablets, Windows 8's touch-screen interface confused Microsoft's customers with its interactive "tile"-based start screen coupled with the deletion of the brand's famous "Start" button.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said he was "betting the company" on the worldwide launch of a range of Windows 8 desktops, laptops, notebooks and the company's answer to the iPad, the new "Surface" tablet.

The Surface tablet failed to make an impression in the market. The lack of affordable touch-laptops able to use Windows 8 meant customers were left flailing with an operating system they had little idea how to use.

While the idea sold 100 million licenses, interest in Windows 8 had flagged and Tammy Reller, head of marketing and finance for the Windows business, announced a retreat, admitting that the software had defeated many users. "The learning curve is definitely real and we need to address it," she said.

A The replacement, tentatively called Microsoft Blue, will be rolled out by the end of the year. Analysts expect it to restore the Start button.

A "boot-to-desktop" option could bypass the unloved Windows 8 interface altogether. "We've considered a lot of different scenarios to help traditional PC users move forward as well as making usability that much better on all devices," Reller said.

Fifty-seven-year-old Ballmer, who took over as CEO from Bill Gates in 2000, is still the man to take Microsoft forward after allowing rivals to revolutionize the market with touch-based mobile computing devices. Global PC sales slumped by 14 percent in the first quarter of 2013.

Joachim Kempin, a former Microsoft executive who helped to build the Windows business says that Ballmer should quit while he's ahead. "Microsoft is going into surface tablets. These tablets are OK products, but nothing really distinguishes them either," he told the BBC.

In addition, Microsoft has alienated its manufacturing partners, noting how Hewlett-Packard and Samsung are now producing tablets for Android, not Windows.

If investors want Ballmer out, it will require the support of Bill Gates, who remains the largest individual shareholder. Gates hand-picked Mr. Ballmer and has supported his attempts to move the company from desktop software to a cloud-based, networked future.

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