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Windows 8 updates, mini Surface tablets on the horizon

A Windows 8 update is expected in the coming months, along with mini Surface tablets. But will enterprises take notice?

Microsoft has confirmed it will show the next Windows 8 update at the Microsoft Build 2013 developer conference in June, but the jury is still out on whether the next update will get enterprises to adopt the operating system anytime soon.

The news came through a Microsoft Windows Q&A blog post this week with Tami Reller, Microsoft's Windows chief marketing officer and chief financial officer, and separate public remarks by Julie Larson-Green, corporate vice president and head of Windows engineering at Microsoft.

I do not see Windows 8 or 8.1 -- with or without a Start button -- as an enterprise desktop.

Robert Fetten,
associate director of IT, 92nd Street Y

Reller said Windows Blue would be available toward the end of the year and reiterated Microsoft's broader Blue initiative to update its software at a faster rate and support a variety of mobile device form factors. Larson-Green said the Windows 8 update would be ready for the holiday selling season.

However, the Windows executives remained mum on what features Windows Blue will include.

"They are going to do some things they should have done with the original release," said Bob O'Donnell, an IDC analyst.

Indeed, published reports focus on the one area where Microsoft has been most widely criticized: the loss of the Start Button in Windows 8.

Microsoft was widely panned for delivering a drastically altered tile-based user interface dubbed "Metro." The radically different tiles caused a major backlash to Windows 8 adoption. End users upgrading or purchasing new computers with Windows 8 frequently turned on Windows Desktop mode because of its familiar look and feel.

Bringing back the Start button would be a good thing, O'Donnell said.

"You can't ignore 20 years of history," he said. "You can't walk away from that. It's disconcerting."

Microsoft has stated it is listening to customer feedback and there are indications that adding the Start button back may be an option.

Windows 8 upgrades on hold

Despite the potential for some cosmetic fixes in Windows Blue, enterprises have continued their slow pace for adopting Windows 8, especially if upgrades to Windows 7 took place within the past two or three years.

"I do not see Windows 8 or 8.1 -- with or without a Start button -- as an enterprise desktop," said Robert Fetten, associate director of IT at 92nd Street Y, a non-profit community and cultural center based in New York. "Windows 8 without a touch screen is just not user-friendly and will require too much intervention by PC support staff.

"But I do use Windows 8 on my personal laptop -- and I like it," he added.

Meanwhile, Reller said Microsoft has now shipped 100 million Windows 8 licenses worldwide, up from 60 million licenses announced in January of this year. However, the company does not publicly parse out enterprise licenses from consumer licenses.

The Windows 8 desktop operating system market has slowly crept up to 3.8%, compared with Windows 7 at 44.2%, Windows XP at 38.3% and all other desktop operating systems making up the remaining 13.7%, according to NetMarketShare data for April.

Meanwhile, Microsoft may be jumping into the mini-tablet market with a 7-inch mini Surface as part of its overall Windows 8 strategy.

During the company's third-quarter fiscal year financial analyst call last month, it hinted the back-to-school and holiday season would see the industry unveil a rash of new mobile technology. Microsoft also suggested that mobile devices would be a key component to its future strategy.

In general, tablets have affected how business users work, regardless of whether devices are based on Windows, iOS or Android.

"If you work in a wireless environment, have some kind of enterprise cloud storage, are able to encrypt/decrypt your documents and spreadsheets in real time as you load or save them, then this is the way to go," Fetten said. "I like taking my tablet to meetings so that I can refer to documents and spreadsheets and take notes. Everything is about mobility."

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If Microsoft brings back the Start Button into Windows 8, will you migrate to the latest operating system?
Already using Windows 8 on both desktop and laptop - it is much easier and more efficient than Windows 7, even though I am NOT using a touch screen. What is the response that I should be put? Is the survey biased?
looking forward to seeing a start button!
ja...ich will die Starttaste wieder haben.
Und schafft endlich mal diese komische "Metro" Oberfläche ab. Kein Mensch kann damit arbeiten.
Already upgraded - need a 5th option on the survey!
I think they need to.
The start button is not mandatory, but it would put other people at ease and take away one talking point against Windows 8. I already have migrated and like Windows 8, but there is a learning curve.
Already updated to Win8. It's just takes getting used to - with or without touch. Obviously it is designed for touch but is usable without if given the chance.
Start button is only part of the equasion.
Already planned to migrate to Win8, Start Button not an issue. You do need another option on this poll!
it is designed for tablets
no good for corporate desktop users
Have both 7 & 8 running on the same laptop, and - yes - the Start button is sorely missing... BUT the real issue behind 8 is the fact that the designers were considering touch-screen devices, rather than keyboards and mice...
I have already adopted windows 8 without the start button. It's great.
I would use it on a home PC but would be reluctant to roll out Win 8 in a business environment.
I have laptop and desktop. Neither has touchscreen. Win 8 has nothing to offer. for that matter either does Office 2013 or 2010. They are so stupid. Instead of designing a system for the consumer, they keep adding bells and whistles hoping to nail down enterprise. They are clueless to what I mean...too many computer geeks, not enough layman helping design system. I'm a physician. Too many doctors talk over patient's head. I made a living translating medspeak into English.. Pay me 200,000 and I'll design one. Here's a hint. UserAccount control for normal people is BS. Naming your "services" with gobbledeegook names and no explanation is retarded.
Although I am unlikely to upgrade either of my current PCs, I would be more willing to buy a new one of the operating system were more consistent with the 20 years of history.
I'm not a fan of the touch screen on anything but a smartphone. So, I would need to see easier use with mouse or other pointing device
In the meantime if you use Windows 8 on a laptop use IOBit's StartMenu8 which is free and brings back the start button anyway
Adding the start button does not mean that after you click it, you get the familiar menu. Enterprise is not going to adopt Win 8 unless the familiar menu returns.

I installed Win 8 and worked with it for several months and after I installed Classic Shell to get the old Windows menu back, I began to like it.
We should have option to downgrade it Win 7, but that wishful thinking.....
absolute rubbish. Loads of problems with tile updates from new and not logical at all. why hide things and jugle them rouns all the while. The skill of using a computer is like a carpenter who knows his tools indideout and what they are capable of doing
I already use Windows 8, and find it only slightly more difficult to use. I do use one of the third-party Start Menu applications but am slowly getting accustomed to the Metro screen. People are just too unwilling to change.
Start button, the one thing that brought windows 8 adoption to a standstill.
i'm actually into win8 at the moment i'am making this comment. at first i'm not that ease in using it but as i use it everyday i started to get familiar with its functions and its nice. however, the system has some software compatibility issues, but not like the issue Windows Vista. over all, Win8 Operating System seems to be good.
There will not be much need for IT desk Support if MS brings back Start Button in to Windows 8,As a deployment engineer when we migrated n number of machine from Windows XP to Windows 7 faced many issues from users insipte of Windows 7 possesd perfect and easy to adopting features... So Windows 8 without start menu is like a drawback and definetly will increase IT support cost...
If Microsoft is counting on the 'end-users' and enterprise clients ... "blinking" on this issue ... it will cost them - BIG TIME !!!!
Over the years Microsoft has established itself in the forefront of Operating Systems, the new Windows 8 being the new kid on the block. The Start Button SHOULD be an integral part of the OS to alert the user of programs available at the first instance without having to guess or look around the System for them. Even though novel approach to new OS can be adopted, there are salient features that accentuate an OS, the Start Button being one.
Has to be more then just Start button
The Start button could be the start of the Windows 8 take up.
If it gets a start button, ill turn it off in the registry. I am done using the BROKEN NT4 interface, this guy that said 8 isn't for enterprises is a moron. Im a consultant and am seeing it emerge everywhere. Your average unintelligent user will fight it at first and withing maybe a week or two will learn that it is actually better and will commonly run legacy apps better than 7 did with its provisions for virtualizing parts of the windows 7 environment
I prefer the way it is currently setup in Windows 8. No need to change it.