Best Argument: Yes
Audience Favored: Yes (58%)
Windows 8.1 is one impressive update
Ed Bott: We are at the very beginning of a revolution in computing. It involves a profound transformation of the PC, which now include mobile devices and services that can be accessed from anywhere. In a few years, the idea that you’ll own just one PC will seem odd, and you’ll judge devices by how well they work together.
Windows 8 was the first step on that road, enabling a new app platform and a touch-based UI that extend the capabilities of the traditional PC to new form factors. With Windows 8.1, Microsoft will expand the capabilities of Windows dramatically, allowing it to work with a new class of smaller, cheaper devices that are powerful and portable but are still PCs. Windows 8.1 also dramatically improves the usability of the Windows 8 interface. It probably won’t satisfy the diehard haters, but anyone who’s actually used Windows 8 will want Windows 8.1.
The Windows 8.1 release is part of the new, faster update cadence Microsoft promised when it shipped Windows 8. The platform is intended to be around for at least a decade. If it continues to improve at this pace, it has every right to succeed.
Changes are too little, too late
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes: Microsoft tried to achieve something ambitious with Windows 8. It endeavored to create a platform that would work on both traditional desktop and notebook PCs, while at the same time kitting it out with features that would make it suited to touch-driven devices such as tablets and hybrids.
To do this, Microsoft gutted the operating system of some of the key elements that the average user had come to think of as being cornerstones of Windows -- specifically the Start button, the Start menu. It also relegated the Windows desktop into the background, instead choosing to land new users, blinking and confused, into what is essentially a full-screen Start menu called the Start Screen.
These changes, combined with the lack of proper user education about the changes from Microsoft, meant that the bulk of users were left scratching their heads, baffled as to what to do in this new thing called Windows 8.
The changes were quite sweeping, and it seems that Microsoft realized that the pendulum of change had swung too far, and as a result the developers squirreled away at Redmond HQ have been hard at work reversing some of these changes in an update called Windows 8.1. Specifically, the changes include adding back the Start button – but not the Start menu – and making tweaks to how the Modern UI apps work.
I firmly believe that all these changes are too little, too late. Microsoft chose to steer Windows in a particular course, and shoehorning tweaks and changes into an already cluttered and confused user interface doesn't seem like the way forward.
While Windows 8.1 might make people love Windows 8 a little more, it is highly unlikely that it will make people fall in love with the PC again.