Best Argument: Yes
Audience Favored: Yes (58%)
It’s so much more than the Start button
If you think Windows 8.1 is just “a service pack and a few tweaks packaged into a rebranding effort,” you’re not paying attention.
The market for conventional desktop and portable PCs is shrinking quickly. Demand for tablets, on the other hand, is growing at a startling pace. The real impact of Windows 8.1 is on those tablets and other mobile devices, including many we haven’t seen before. Changes in resolution requirements enable an entire new class of smaller, less expensive devices.
Migrating all Windows settings to run in the new UI is a huge undertaking that removes a major Windows 8 annoyance. Using Windows 8.1 on a tablet, you’ll never have to visit the desktop and squint to change device settings.
This fall, we’ll see a massive wave of new, touch-enabled devices. When you look closely at those devices, you’ll understand why I say Windows 8.1 is much more than a Start button.
Give users what they want
Windows 8.1 is coming, and with it will come a handful of UI changes that Microsoft hope will be enough to silence the critics.
A small number of these changes – such as the way Modern apps work – will be of benefit to users, while other changes – such as bolting a part-functional Start button back onto the OS – will do little other than throw more confusion and change at users who are already suffering a decline in productivity thanks to the changes made in Windows 8.
The U-turn that Microsoft is making with Windows 8.1 in adding the Start button back will do little for either existing user, or to encourage more people to take up the platform. The way to reignite Windows is to give users what they want, not force changes on them they never asked for in the first place.
Restart doesn't necessarily mean success down the road
The question for this debate revolved around whether Windows 8.1 could restart Microsoft's flagship OS. Ed made the case that a restart was likely. However, a restart doesn't necessarily mean that Windows 8 will succeed over time. The UI, hardware and the post-PC era will have a lot of say in Windows 8's success. Adrian made many valid points. But given the narrow scope of the question, Ed, and the crowd vote, gets the win.