Talk about pulling a complete reversal. According to reports from the Verge and elsewhere, Microsoft may be preparing to completely turn its Windows 8 strategy around with the release of Windows 8.1 Update 1 seeing the struggling OS boot to the Desktop by default. Due in March, latest builds of Windows 8.1 Update 1 reportedly boot directly to the Desktop instead of the Metro or Modern UI and its now familiar Tile interface. This could change as Update 1 is in still in development, but it is an obvious nod to desktop and Enterprise users who seem to be hesitant to make the move to the new OS that was designed with Touch in mind.
With the release of Windows 8.0 Microsoft seemed to have bitten the proverbial bullet and was attempting to force the Windows world to come along to a new look and new future that focused on a touch centric experience. Unfortunately, that bite in the bullet didn’t go deep enough as Microsoft hedged its bets with a dual headed environment that forced users to go back and forth between the Metro or Modern UI experience and a more familiar Desktop experience. The dual approach served to create confusion among users, and almost doomed Microsoft’s entry into selling hardware with Surface Tablets.
The subsequent release of Windows 8.1 solved some of the issues and eased some of the confusion. Windows 8.1 allowed users to bypass the new Start screen and go to the Desktop, but the Start Screen was still the default option on boot up. Apparently this was not enough to satisfy those who want a more traditional mouse and keyboard approach to their computing needs. As clumsy as these initial changes might have been and these course reversals seem, Microsoft obviously has data telling it that customers are not satisfied in enough numbers for it to do an about face. Better to eat crow and face criticism while selling more product than to face criticism and see sales lag.
Early reports about Windows 8.1 Update 1 have previously mentioned that more concessions would be made for those who desired a desktop environment. That is a big change, as many originally thought Microsoft would seek to phase out the familiar desktop experience in lieu of the new approach that it had invested so heavily in. The opposite now seems to be the case. Whether Windows 8.1 Update 1 boots to the Desktop by default or not, it is safe to say that the Desktop will not be going away in the near future.