Microsoft is preparing to reverse course over key elements of its Windows 8 operating system, marking one of the most prominent admissions of failure for a new mass-market consumer product since Coca-Cola's New Coke fiasco nearly 30 years ago. Windows 8 was an ambitious attempt to update the personal computer for the tablet era by moving to a new touchscreen interface based on colourful tiles, hiding the 'desktop' launch screen familiar to white collar workers and consumers around the world.
The combination PC and tablet software was widely panned by reviewers and has been blamed by some analysts for worsening the slump in sales that has rocked the PC industry. Even before its launch, Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, said Windows 8 would be like combining a toaster and a fridge – something that, while technically possible, was 'probably not going to be pleasing to the user'.
Ms Reller refused to reveal details of the changes Microsoft would make to Windows 8. However, the clamour from reviewers has become overwhelming for a return to a more familiar PC interface. Ms Reller said PC users had faced difficulties adapting to the new software.
Pressure has been building for Windows 8 PCs to launch the familiar desktop view when turned on – and to bring back the 'start' button featured in the lower left corner of the screen in previous releases.
Microsoft has also admitted to a range of other slips with the launch of Windows 8, including failing to do enough to train retail staff and educate potential customers about the new software, as well as not focusing all of its financial incentives behind the touchscreen PCs that show off Windows 8 to best advantage. "It's very clear we could and should have done more," Ms Reller said.