Microsoft has been having a bad time in the consumer face for the last few years — they’ve failed to jump on the mobile train in any significant way and have tried to modernize Windows but face a lot of resistance from users and pundits. Personally, I like Windows 8; the changes in 8 were bold and necessary to bring Windows into the current day, though it does still feel a bit stodgy. Windows 8’s next update (Blue) is, however, a step in the wrong direction.
Sure the (relevant) changes in Blue are relatively small — bringing back the start button and allowing boot to desktop — but these changes show the core problem with Windows ever being a successful consumer brand — the enterprise market. Microsoft makes a ton of money in the enterprise space and (naturally) they do not want to upset some of their best customers. Though those changes might sound small, they are made with the sole purpose of placating enterprise customers who fear having to “train” their users; as an aside, I have personally seen enterprise office workers pretend to not how to do something in Office to avoid doing a task or delay other work functions and, in general, it has been my experience that many IT departments provide far too much “training” when a simple video course would suffice.
Even if the changes, somehow magically avoid the mythical training IT departments keep crying about, this move sense the wrong message to the consumer market and any developers who might have supported Windows 8 in that space; if Microsoft made these concessions will they make any more? given the sales numbers of WinRT it seems like a matter of time?
Unfortunately, in this age of iDevices the bar for a consumer product is significantly higher and users seem to want something a bit flashier to use on their off time. Meaning that developers need the platform to shed the legacy and be something new something flashy something other than Windows. Put a bit more simply, Microsoft has to learn how to say “no” to the enterprise. Unfortunately, Microsoft has shown its priorities and maybe it is time for it to just become the IBM knock-off that we all know it will.