Despite its initial growth spurt, it looks like people are staying away from Windows 8.x in droves. The latest stats show little to no change in the number of Windows 8.x installs in the last month. Windows XP’s recent slide, no doubt due to the end of its support, has also leveled out. As things stand, Windows XP use is roughly double that of Windows 8.x.
Microsoft may have have thrown in the towel on Windows 8.x. They recently announced that the Start menu won’t reappear in Windows 8.x, but will be included in Windows 9, which is giving those of us who advised against switching to Windows 8 an excuse to say ‘I told you so.’
Despite earlier indications that Microsoft would finally return the Start menu to Windows 8.x, it now looks like that may not ever happen.
Microsoft is now saying that the next update for Windows 8.1 (likely to be called ‘Update 2’) will not bring back the Start menu, and will only include small user interface adjustments.
Instead, Microsoft will wait for Windows 9 to bring back the Start menu. With Windows 9, Microsoft will apparently do what they should have done with Windows 8, making the touch-centric ‘Metro’ user interface optional, defaulting to a regular desktop on keyboard/mouse PCs and to the touch interface on touch devices.
Ars Technica has more, as does The Verge.
Anyone buying a new HP PC these days will be steered towards Windows 7 instead of the more current – but flawed – Windows 8. It’s not entirely clear what prompted HP to stop selling their computers with Windows 8, but the lack of user acceptance of that O/S clearly played a part. It’s also likely that HP’s support costs have increased markedly for PCs shipped with Windows 8, with common questions being “where the &@*#%$ is my Start Menu” and “how do I find anything in this crappy operating system”.
Meanwhile, it looks like Microsoft might try to turn the tide of Windows 8’s failure by actually bringing back the Start menu in the upcoming Update 1 for Windows 8.1. You may recall that Windows 8.1 saw the return of the Start button, which for some reason was just a button with no useful menu attached, making it basically useless. Will this make a difference to Windows 8.x sales? Maybe. But I’m holding out for Update 2, where – and this is pure speculation, mind you – Microsoft may provide a method for disabling the “Metro” interface altogether.
And the rumours about Windows 9, the next major version of the O/S, are starting to make the rounds. At this point the pattern is clear: every other version of Windows is to be avoided. Perhaps Microsoft has realized this themselves, because Windows 9 is already under development. Code-named “Threshold”, it will supposedly meld the good bits from Windows 7 and 8. Sounds promising. And if the pattern holds, it might actually be a good O/S.