Windows 8.1 Update 1 Coming Sometime this Spring

Well, I’m glad we got THAT cleared up

One of the greatest conferences in the computing world is MWC or Mobile World Congress. It’s held in Barcelona, Spain every year. It’s the kind of conference that makes you want to get your passport updated and ready to be stamped. I’ve never been able to go, and at this rate, it’s doubtful that I will; but if you’re into mobile computing like I am, then it’s something that you pay a lot of attention to if you’re unable to attend. Some really great innovations and products get announced at MWC.

This year, Microsoft is there, and they’re announcing details around the next version of Windows 8.1.  Joe Belfiore, head of phones, tablets and PC’s at the Redmond software giant is there and has currently revealed that the update is coming, “this Spring.”

windows_8

Wow.  Thanks, a lot there, Joe.  Way to be specific.

All kidding aside, the release, currently internally called, “Update 1,” as no real release name has been set EITHER (so, this could be called Update 1, Windows 8.2, or something totally different…), is focusing its updates on making the desktop experience more palatable to mouse and keyboard users. Users should see things like MetroApps with title bars, an easier way to launch and switch to running apps via the Taskbar as well as a new context menu UI.

The biggest improvement, however, is going to be totally behind the scenes. The OS will run on lower-speced machines.  PC makers will be able to put the latest version of Windows 8.x on machines with just 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage space.  This is going to allow OEM’s to offer tablets and other computing devices running the OS that retail somewhere in the neighborhood of $250 or lower. This is going to go a long way to helping Microsoft compete with lower priced Android tablets that are easy to find in the sub $250 range.  This is an area where Google and its Android operating system have enjoyed a complete monopoly. No OEM has been able to create a tablet with an OS other than Android at that price point or lower.  Unfortunately for Microsoft, that fact has been providing a great deal of heartburn.

If Microsoft can make the newest version of Windows 8.x run on lower speced devices, then it’s very possible that devices like the Dell Latitude 10 ST tablet that I reviewed last year might be able to run with better performance and provide a better overall experience. That would go a long way to making it easier to take to school, to work, or anywhere for that matter.  Windows tablets need a better overall experience.  Even native tablets like Surface Pro/2 Pro will benefit from an OS that runs better on less powerful components. You should expect to see quite the performance boost on existing devices, I would think.

Now, getting back to the “available Spring 2014” thing… Microsoft Build is set to be held in April of this year. Its “largely expected” that Microsoft will announce and release the latest version of Windows 8.x to the world at that time.  My guess is that it should be available right after the opening keynote concludes.

What do you think? Do you think that Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be something that’s worthwhile, or is Microsoft bring all of this to the party a year or more too late? I’m still not totally sold on anything related to Windows 8.x’s MetroUI. The “whole” Windows experience needs to be totally revamped.  However, I’d love to hear what you have to say. Why don’t you tell me what you think in the comments section below?

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Gates Can’t Install Windows 8.1

It’s pretty telling when the creator of Windows can’t get the latest version to install on a Windows compatible PC…

RRT

I’ve seen a couple of posts on this so far today; and I’m sorry to say, I fell for it… The New Yorker is the first article I saw, and not only was it was my WFT of the day, but I fell, hook line and sinker. It took me a bit to figure this out; but it did provide me with a chuckle or two in the interim.

The story goes that Satya Nadella’s first day as CEO looks like it went well.  Bill Gates’ first day, and Nadella’s second, however wasn’t as positive.  According to the article, the Microsoft founder spent the entire day trying to install Windows 8.1 on his Windows compatible PC.  When he couldn’t get passed a specific point, due to a recurring error, he contacted Nadella. The two of them spent the rest of the afternoon banging their heads against a brick wall.

The article described the situation as tense. Both Nadella and Gates tried to weather the moment where a hardware error message prevented Gates’ PC from continuing with the install and would need to restart. Apparently, some of the language coming out of the executive suite hadn’t been heard for a while. So what did Bill do..?

He did what nearly every frustrated consumer has done – he dumped Windows 8.1 and installed Windows 7 instead.

This is where I got hooked, because, how many technically savvy people do YOU know that bumped into something as frustrating as this with Windows. I know I can raise my hand. Its actually the story of my life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been there.

All I can say is, “welcome to our hell.”

That may come off a little harsher than I really intend it to, but anybody who’s built or rebuilt a Windows box after a malware infection or after some kind of hardware/software snafu knows what I’m talking about. Going back to factory fresh isn’t always the easiest thing in the world with Windows.

In this situation, and in all seriousness, I think the humor here can be put to good use. Putting the public’s dislike for MetroUI/ModernUI aside for a moment, I think one of the first things that Gates should likely advise Nadella on is getting a handle on the hot mess that Windows has turned into.  If the company’s co-founder and former chief software architect really did have problems installing the latest version of the OS on his Windows compatible computer, then there’s certainly something wrong. When this happens to other technically savvy people, its just as frustrating as if it really did happen to Gates.

As a technology writer and product reviewer, I install software on computers all the time, every day, out loud. I regularly have to blow a box and reinstall everything on it. With both Mac OS and Linux, I haven’t had many problems with this.  Both of those are pretty easy to rebuild (and the reinstallation of end user apps is really very easy thanks to system utilities like Apple’s Time Machine on OS X). However, both of those are built on a Unix backbone; and that may have something to do with it.  With Windows, this has historically been much more difficult.

Troubleshooting Windows PC problems has been more difficult as well. Usually, when you bump into driver conflicts, a BSoD or some kind of Registry error or corruption, its better just to pack it in, nuke the drive and reinstall Windows from scratch.  While it doesn’t address the root cause of the problem – which drivers conflicted, where and how you got a malware infection, or what corrupted your Registry – it does get you back to operational mode faster. It’s also a lot less frustrating.

Having a restore DVD or some kind of drive image that has your entire, or most of, your needed setup and configuration and software, is a big help.  This is one of the things I like about Apple’s OS X and Microsoft’s Windows 8.x.  You can take a Windows 8.x box back to factory fresh from within the defective PC…but with Windows, that version of the OS has to already be on the computer; and the recovery partition already been created.  Windows 8 is the first version of Windows to create a recovery partition during installation.

Windows 9 (or whatever the successor to Windows 8 is officially called), currently code named Threshold is due for release in the Spring of 2015. While the recovery partition is an important part of Windows, there’s a lot more that Microsoft could do from an engineering perspective to make the OS easier for both consumer and enterprise users to manage. Getting rid of the Registry would be a start…

What does Microsoft need to do to improve Windows? What do you think Bill Gates can do to advise Satya Nadella? I’d really like to hear what you have to say in the discussion, below.

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Windows Threshold – Bringing Back Windows 7 & the Desktop

It’s clear from the “retrohancements” in Windows 8.1 Update 1 and Windows Threshold, that Microsoft is saying, “mea culpa.”

image2993This is just a (short) update to one or two other columns that I’ve written here for Soft32 over the past few weeks and months.   It’s clear to me that Microsoft is firmly embracing its wishy-washy stance and back tracking not only on the implementation of the Metro/ ModernUI that it introduced with Windows 8 and Windows RT, but on the vision they had to change the direction of mainstream computing.

None of this is news. People have been saying this stuff for a little bit. However, it occurred to me while reading an article by Mary Joe Foley recently that Microsoft really has no one else to blame but themselves.

Windows XP was initially released in August of 2001, almost 13 years ago.   Windows XP SP3, the OS’ last major release and most current version, was released in April of 2008, nearly 6 years ago. Windows Vista, which used much the same UI, but is largely considered a flop by many industry leaders, was released in November of 2006, nearly 7 years ago. Windows 7, which uses much the same UI was released in July of 2009, over 4 years ago.

So what’s the point with the history lesson..?   Simple – Microsoft has had the same UI in place for approximately 15 years, or 50% of the modern computing history (and by modern computing history, I mean anything not mainframe/thin client based).

The world is hooked on the Windows desktop.   Microsoft’s licensing deals with most companies have allowed enterprise users to bring copies of Windows and Office to their homes for under   a $100 bucks combined.   That same software combination that would have cost nearly $750 at retail, depending on which versions of the two software titles you purchased. They further reinforced this desktop monopoly by making  many of their enterprise titles – Server editions of Windows, Exchange, SQL Server, etc., accessible for “testing” purposes via different developer and technical programs as well as other licensing programs that brought enterprise and business versions of Microsoft software to an end user’s home.

Somewhere during this 15 year dairy farm period where Microsoft didn’t do much more than milk the cash cows they had reared, someone got off the merry go round and looked around, realizing that the party was pretty much over.   At that point, they looked at the tablet and personal device trends – the CoIT and BYOD challenges that many IT managers were facing – and decided it was time to embrace that vision.   Unfortunately, this required a huge paradigm change not only for their products and their internal processes, but for their customers as well.

Going cold turkey is the (usually) best way to break a habit…unless of course, you’re talking about the way I get work done, and then maybe not so much. It’s clear that the rest of the world felt the same way, as the wailing and gnashing of teeth has been loud and arduous.   The Start Button is back. The Start Menu is confirmed to be coming back (though just how that, or any other returning feature, will be reimplemented is unknown as of this writing).

Unfortunately, Microsoft has no one to “blame” for the rejection of this new computing vision but themselves; and its two fold.

1.    If it ain’t broke…
If they had retired XP at a much earlier date, if Vista hadn’t been a train wreck, and if Windows 7 wasn’t viewed as the OS to save us from the disaster that Vista was or from the stale nature that was (and currently still is) Windows XP, then perhaps they wouldn’t be in the pickle that they’re in.   The world doesn’t stand still.   Moore’s Law was clearly in effect, and all of Microsoft’s billions couldn’t build blinders large enough to hide the changing computing trends
2.    A Lack of Vision and Leadership
Ballmer is a self-proclaimed sales guy. He doesn’t get computing and mobility very well, and unfortunately, those two combined to create the current computing trend that Apple, Google   and Samsung are clearly leading with their desktop and mobile operating systems.

Revelations like this just point out to the public what I’m certain the MS Board must already know – Microsoft has a long comeback road in front of it; and the organization really needs to pick the right CEO.   With both Gates and Ballmer remaining on the Board after Ballmer leaves the Microsoft CEO spot, that person’s job isn’t going to be easy. Not only do they have a public relations mess to fix – the public is not happy with the direction that Windows 8.x has been going and wants a change, the evolutionary rather than revolutionary path that Office has been taking coupled with both title’s high price tags – but the new Microsoft CEO will have to create both mission and vision strategies that fit well with the current strategic direction set in motion by Steve Ballmer (did I mention that he will still have a lot to say about the company’s direction after the new CEO is named..??).

No matter how you decide to look at this, it’s clear to me that Microsoft and its Board of Directors painted themselves into this corner. How they are going to get themselves out, is up to them.   I know that the entire world is waiting and watching. I know I am…and I’m certain I’ll have a thing or two to say about it in the coming months as developments unfold.

What about you?   What do you think of all of this?   Did Microsoft do this to themselves? Are they victims of circumstance, or did they just sort of arrive here because their product roadmap dropped them at the corner? I’d love to hear what you have to say. Why don’t you join me in the discussion area, below and let me know what you think?

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Windows Phone 8 Devices will get Windows Phone 8.1

 

Windows Phone 8 Devices will get Windows Phone 8.1

Windows 8.1

I know this made a lot of Windows Phone users happy…

Back in the day of the Palm Pilot and the Compaq iPAQ, getting a ROM upgrade for your device was pretty much a foregone conclusion.  They got update support for about 18 months after they were released. It was really a decent experience, as it made you feel as though you were getting a lot for your money.  Having a company support the devices they release is always a post-sales selling point. While devices were really nothing more than electronic phone and datebooks, the practice has all but ceased.

Today, except for Apple and the iPhone, updates for ANY smartphone are not a foregone conclusion.  Even Google’s Nexus line – the pure Android experience that’s supposed to get updates from Google for at LEAST a year – doesn’t always get them, or get them as long as you might think they should.This usually happens because device makers want you to buy the newest device, if you want the latest OS and/or software updates.  Providing an OS update to an already released device doesn’t provide any additional revenue. Apple does it for the iPhone.  Google does it for (at least the latest) Nexus device.  Every other device maker or provider usually doesn’t.  This includes Microsoft, but thankfully, Windows Phone 8 users just got some welcomed news.

Microsoft announced recently that Windows Phone 8 devices will run Windows Phone 8.1, the next, and Windows Blue version of their smartphone operating system. This wouldn’t be news or even of interest to tech news readers if not for two things:

  1. The trend of device (as well as service) providers to not provide updates in order to push sales of the next generation device, as I noted above.
  2. Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 7.5 device owners are still angry over being left out of the Windows Phone 8 upgrade cycle.  Windows Phone 8 was released soon enough after some newer Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 7.5 devices hit the market that many thought an upgrade to Windows Phone 8 was all but a done deal.  When that didn’t happen, not only did it cause a huge uproar with those owners of the newer devices, sales of those devices literally tanked overnight.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any official information on the upgrade itself at this time. Microsoft hasn’t released any yet.  There are a number of rumors floating around about what might be included in the update, including a much desired notification center and digital, virtual assistant code named, “Cortana.” However, Microsoft BUILD is coming up in April of 2014, and more information should be made public at that time.  Stay tuned to Soft32 for additional news and commentary on this as we get closer to BUILD.

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Consumer vs. Enterprise Windows

It’s a different kind of pane…

I’ve been involved in software for quite some time. Not to blow my horn or anything, but I’m a methodology and process engineering expert. I specialize in identifying process disconnects within the software development life cycle; and then help organizations identify the best ways to reconnect them.

I’ve seen a lot of talk over the past few days about Microsoft Threshold, or a unified approach to Windows that would bring everything together under one development cycle for Phone, Consumer and Enterprise Windows. Today, I got a refreshing look at the other side of the coin from one of my favorite People, Mary Jo Foley.

image2993

So…the first question on your mind has to be, “Well, that’s great, Chris.  How the heck are these two things connected?”  Good question…   Right now, except for Phone and RT – which is scheduled, to make an exit soon – all Windows development is connected.  Both consumer and enterprise versions of Windows have the same feature sets, underpinnings, back end hooks, etc.  With many hardware manufacturers concentrating more on the consumer market, keeping your enterprise product hooked to a consumer-focused, lean back device doesn’t make sense in a lean forward product line.

The needs of the [consumer]… are different than those of the enterprise. Consumers want to be current on everything, all the time, every day, out loud. The more current your security patches, virus updates and apps are, the more secure and virus free YOU are.  When it comes to keeping your personal, private data (like passwords and financials) personal and private, this is usually the best way to go.

IT professionals don’t always feel that way. While they have other security tools  available to them to insure that their networks are safe, they usually prefer static environments to rapid change.  With so much diversity in critical, operational apps from department to department, division to division, their focus is keeping the work progressing forward and not rapid OS changes. It’s easier to control the changes and insure that work gets done than to allow OS level changes into the enterprise that may conflict or create compatibility issues with business critical apps. They prefer policies and security restrictions so they may control when upgrades are applied.

From a use case perspective, this makes sense.  Consumers want all the latest and greatest features.  Professionals and people at work just want what they need to get the job done to work without having to wrestle with things.

This also makes a great deal of sense from a life cycle perspective.  Originally, both consumer and enterprise Windows were kept on the same development and feature life cycle so that people at work would be able to use the same version of Windows at home.  However, due to the implementation of Active Directory and Policy Manager, Windows at work and Windows at home have never quite felt EXACTLY the same.

Since PC use is declining in favor of a more slate-tablet form factor, and traditional computing is likely going to stick around at the office for quite some time (at least in the more conservative industries that I find myself working in – healthcare IT and State Government), splitting these user types into different Windows versions makes a lot of sense to me.  The only thing that I hope doesn’t happen is that they become so divergent that you can’t put the business form of Windows on your compatible, consumer tablet/device/PC.

According to Terry Myerson, the new head of the unified Windows team at Microsoft, the goal is to build one Windows platform that runs all compatible devices. However, that doesn’t mean “one OS to rule them all.” The UI’s may be different, the features may be different, but the underlying codebase – and more importantly, the cloud services – will be the same.

Strategically, this is very sound.  I’m going to have to reserve judgment until I see the tactical deliverable, however.  Post Windows 8.1, the picture gets fuzzy. However, between now and Spring of 2015, there should be two more Windows releases – in the Spring of 2014, there should be a Win8.1 Update 1 (or some such named animal) that will more appropriately align Windows and Windows Phone.  “Threshold,” or the next version of Windows, is the version slotted for Spring of 2015 and there’s very little that’s really known about it, its direction, etc.

At the end of the day, having this kind of desktop OS split from Microsoft isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s actually a return to a previous practice for them. Windows ME, back in 1990-blah, blah, blah was the last truly consumer version of Windows (Win95) before an updated version of Windows NT (Windows 2000, if you remember…) was released and became very popular with consumers, due in large part to is enterprise focused stability.

Do you think Microsoft returning/splitting its focus with Windows between consumers and the enterprise is a good or bad thing?  Can you support your argument?  I’d love to hear what you have to say.  Why not join me in the discussion below and tell me what you think of this interesting development.

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Microsoft Windows 8.1 Delta Review

Introduction

Windows PC’s are some of the most affordable computers available today. Portable or not, they cost hundreds of dollars where Macs can cost thousands. If you want an affordable or budget PC, portable or not, its likely going to be a Windows machine. Unless there’s a Windows 7 offer, you can expect to have the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system on it.

Windows 8.1 has a few interesting changes in it. I’ve covered the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 for Soft32. There wasn’t a huge delta – or change – between the Consumer Preview and the version that hit the streets. There are some interesting changes between Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. Let’s check them out and see if Windows 8.1 is the version of Windows 8.x that we’ve been hoping for.

New Features

Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but please remember that Windows 8.1 is still very much Windows 8. There are some very, very good improvements to legacy usability that should make many users of non-touch enabled PC’s very happy; but Microsoft didn’t go quite as far as it could have – or should have – for a great many users. Windows 8.1 still has ModernUI throughout most of it.

However, that doesn’t mean that the improvements that were made weren’t valuable. They are. Windows 8.1 is a much better Windows 8 than Windows 8 was. Let’s take a look at what was done, and see how it all stacks up. Depending on the type of PC you have, you may find them more relevant than others.

Start Button – but no start Menu

The masses have not been happy with the lack of a Start Button and Start Menu in Windows 8. The Start Menu has been around since the early days of Windows XP, and as many will tell you, was optimized in Windows 7. Microsoft has heard the wailing and gnashing of teeth and has resolved the issue…sorta.

Win81-01 Start Button

The Start Button is back, but the Windows 8 Start Screen is still here. There’s no Start Menu any longer. So unless you replace the Live Tiles with the All Programs menu, you’re stuck with them. The functionality here is still very good, and Microsoft has included the new Search Everywhere option (which is the real value of the Start Menu) which includes searching SkyDrive as well as online, for the terms you’re looking for.

Those of us used to using Windows in the Enterprise will also notice that the consumer version of Windows 8.1 also includes a log off/Sign Out option, accessible via a right click or by pressing Win-X, allowing users to take the PC back to an on, but not logged on status. This makes sharing PCs at home a bit easier as you truly DON’T have to share a single account with a spouse or siblings. All the instances of each app can truly be customized for any user of any account and you don’t have to share unless you want to.

This particular point is still a huge issue for many people. They really don’t like the Live Tile-based Start Screen on non-touch enabled and/or legacy PC’s. For those that just can’t live with the Start Screen, you can always install Start8.

Boot to Desktop

One of the biggest problems with Windows 8 is that it took you right to the Start Screen every time the PC finished the startup process. As part of the Windows 8.1 update, Microsoft introduced a Boot to Desktop option for users who simply weren’t going to use ModernUI or who preferred to see the standard Windows Desktop. It *IS* where most users will do most of their work.

Win81-03 Boot Desktop

Interestingly enough, the options for this are connected to the Task Bar and not to your desktop (Personalization) or Display options. To get to these, right click your Task Bar, click Properties and then choose the Navigation tab.

Here, you’ll see a great many Windows 8.1 options, including the option to replace the Start Screen with the All Apps view. Take note of this tab and this dialog box. You’re likely going to become very familiar with the options here as you try to figure out the best set of “navigation options” for you.

This is one of the biggest advantages of Windows 8.1 over Windows 8. If your PC doesn’t have a touch interface and you aren’t going to be using it as a lean-back device (a tablet-like, content consumption device) then you may want to give serious consideration to using Boot to Desktop. Using this, along with options like the All Apps View go a long way to hiding ModernUI elements from users who really won’t make use of them.

IE11 Updates

Windows 8.1 comes with IE11, so you won’t need to update the browser via Windows update or any other manual process. The ModernUI version of the Microsoft’s web browser includes Reading View, which allows you to view and read content off line. It has settings that allow you to customize its look and feel with different fonts and colors choices. You can also turn Tracking Protection on and off and prevent sites from tracking you or from installing 3rd party cookies.

Win81-04 IE11

Next page

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Bricked WinRT Devices Causes Removal of 8.1 Update #1

Microsoft is just NOT having a good go of things…

surface_largeWindows 8.1 hit the streets a few days ago and there are a number of people who are having problems with both the Windows 8.1 RT and Windows 8.1 Pro updates not entirely working right. Things are so bad on the Windows RT side of the house that Microsoft has pulled the update from the Windows Store until further notice. The update has been reported to brick some windows RT devices.

The problem doesn’t occur with every Windows RT device, but there really isn’t a way to know if your device will brick or update correctly. The official statement from Microsoft attributed to a “Microsoft Spokesman” indicates,Microsoft is investigating a situation affecting a limited number of users updating their Windows RT devices to Windows RT 8.1. As a result, we have temporarily removed the Windows RT 8.1 update from the Windows Store. We are working to resolve the situation as quickly as possible and apologize for any inconvenience. We will provide updates as they become available.”

The problem seems to be wrapped around a BSoD connected to the recovery image that gets created on the device. When the device tries to reboot, many users get the following error message: “Your PC needs to be repaired. The Boot Configuration Data file is missing some required information.”

Microsoft is still working on a permanent fix for the problem. They’ve posted a Surface RT recovery image to the Microsoft Download Center that is supposed to help users with this problem unbrick their device. However, there’s still no official word on when the final fix and the Windows RT 8.1 update will be made available in the Windows Store again.

read Update #2

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What Comes After Windows 8.1? Windows 8.2? Windows 9?

Windows 8.1 arrives soon. I’ve seen a couple things on what comes next. Here’s my take on what Microsoft needs to do.

Let’s face it. Windows 8 was a mess. The user interface was/is so different from the Windows XP/Windows 7 paradigm that most users I know either won’t use Windows 8 or have switched to Mac or Linux. For Microsoft, this is a huge issue. Aside from Windows Phone, which by all accounts has a great interface, but a microscopic user base, Live Tiles don’t work well on a traditional PC, and THAT my friends, is where Microsoft makes their living.

So what’s Microsoft to do? I have a couple of ideas…

 

what windows next

 

Ditch the Tiles on the PC Side

Surface RT and Surface 2 are Microsoft’s tablet products, and honestly, the Live Tile thing works and does an OK job on a tablet, which is much like a phone. Live Tiles have been received very well on Windows Phone, so keeping the same UI on their tablet line makes a world of sense.

Surface Pro and Surface 2 Pro are really ultrabooks, not tablets. They’re really an – uh-hem – ultra version of a slate-based TabletPC. The only real difference there is that they’re much smaller, much thinner and much more portable. I have one. It’s a full blown PC and definitely not a tablet or lean-back device. It’s for serious work. The Start Screen simply does not work well here, even though I can take my hands off the keyboard, away from the touch pad on a Type or Touch Cover or even a mouse and manipulate the device with touch. It just doesn’t work well. It’s why touch-based CRT’s and LCD’s never really caught on in any other setting other than retail.

 

Merge the Tablet and Phone OS and Software Stores

You know, I really like Mary Jo Foley. She’s got some really good sources over at Microsoft, and some of them are really VERY accurate. According to MJF and her source, by Spring of 2015, Windows RT and Windows Phone will be a single, merged OS. In my mind, that’s a year too long. It needs to happen before June 2014.

I agree that’s a lot to get done in less than 9 months; but its overdue now as it is. Microsoft’s mobile strategy sucks, and has for well over a decade. Ballmer just didn’t get mobile devices OR mobile computing, and as such, they lost the position of power they had back in the 2000-2004 time frame.

Merging Windows Phone and Windows RT is the right thing to do, but they need to make that happen NOW and not later. That will likely mean bringing on a huge amount of contract labor and developing a very aggressive schedule. If they can get the mobile OS standardized and have all of the software for that single platform also exist in a single store, then like iOS and Android, they’ll have a unified platform they can then get behind and push with an aggressive marketing machine.

surface-2-2

More Frequent Updates

According to MJF and her source, there should be an update to Windows 8.x before June 2014. However, it’s not known if that’s going to be a formal release or simply a service pack or update of some kind. Microsoft is shooting for the April-May-June time frame to be their formal annual release time, but if that’s the case, then they need to hit this next release window with a formal Windows release and not a service pack. If they want to appear as though they are turning around major releases quickly in the Spring, then they need to do so in 2014. Waiting until 2015 to provide the next major update will make them appear to have reverted back to the service pack model they said they left behind with Windows 7.

 

Clear, Decisive Action from a New CEO, NOW

I know Microsoft is actively looking for a new CEO; but they need to get someone with a clear vision of where to take them at the helm quickly. Steve may be a great guy, but he blew it with Microsoft’s mobile strategy and that’s where the market is currently headed. They are very weak in this area and need to find a way to demonstrate a clear position of strength and direction quickly, or they may as well forget it.

Frankly, I don’t care who the new CEO is; but they need someone who is product oriented, with a clear mobile vision, and who isn’t afraid to think outside the box. The market isn’t going to wait on them. This isn’t 1990, and they clearly aren’t the only player any longer. Move. Move quickly and hit a home run. Microsoft can’t afford any additional misfires. If they have one, the world – and the mobile market – will move on without them.

I’m working on a Delta Review of Windows 8.1 and will have it ready shortly. Please continue to watch Soft32 for it. In the meantime, why don’t you join us in the discussion below and give us your take on what Microsoft needs to do after Windows 8.1.

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