John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Microsoft: That Windows 8 “New Coke” Analogy Is Silly

new_cokeWill the launch of Microsoft’s forthcoming update to Windows 8 next month be the company’s “New Coke” moment? Is its rumored plan to revive the traditional “Start” button it killed when it debuted Windows 8 a massive and humiliating reversal of course, following an ill-conceived reimagining of the company’s flagship product?

Not according to Microsoft.

According to Microsoft, Windows 8 is a good product that’s steadily improving, and recent suggestions by the media that it is turning into a “New Coke”-style disaster are pure sensationalism. And in an unusual company blog bost, Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s VP of corporate communications, dismissed them as exactly that, suggesting they favored “hyperbole” over “nuanced analysis.”

“Windows 8 is a good product, and it’s getting better every day,” Shaw wrote. “Unlike a can of soda, a computer operating system offers different experiences to different customers to meet different needs, while still moving the entire industry toward an exciting future of touch, mobility, and seamless, cross-device experiences.”

Shaw insists that Windows 8 is doing exactly that, and that its licenses sold to date — 100 million copies — is good evidence of it. And it may well be, though the number of Windows 8 licenses sold is not at all a direct equivalent to Windows 8 licenses in use. Indeed, some analysts suggest that there may be fewer than 60 million PCs presently running Windows 8.

But that’s not even the point here.

The point, and the gist of Shaw’s message, is that Windows 8 is here to stay, and that Microsoft’s reaction to consumer backlash over some of its features isn’t going to be a knee-jerk return to a more familiar PC interface. It’s going to be a more considered response.

And if the company does elect to bring back the “Start” button for which so many customers seem to be pining, it’s going to be because it has been listening to feedback and adjusting its new Windows recipe accordingly, not because it’s scrapping it and reverting to the old one. In the meantime, if you’re a Windows 8 user befuddled without the “Start” button, just cowboy up and press the “Windows” key …

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald