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Microsoft: All RIGHT, you can have your Start button back

We blew it but now we're gonna Blue it, says Redmond

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Big changes to "key" parts of Windows 8 are coming after Microsoft admitted it “could and should have done more” on its big answer to Apple’s iOS for tablets.

“Key aspects” of Windows 8 will be changed, head of marketing and finance for Microsoft’s Windows group Tami Reller has told the Financial Times (log-in needed).

Reller didn’t say what aspects will change in Windows 8, or when, but they are anticipated in the imminent update to Windows 8 that’s being codenamed "Blue" and whose formal nomenclature is expected to be Windows 8.1.

Leaked builds of Windows Blue in recent weeks suggest a loosening of the Metro straitjacket. These builds indicate that Windows Blue will introduce the ability for users to boot straight to desktop mode and to bypass the Metro-Style Start menu. Microsoft is also considering bringing back the abandoned Start button.

In a separate interview with Mary-Jo Foley, Reller said simply that Blue would “address customer feedback” Microsoft has received on Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Reller told Foley:

“We feel good that we've listened and looked at all of the customer feedback. We are being principled, not stubborn," about modifying Windows 8 based on that feedback.

Back over at the FT, Reller conceded that Windows users have been struggling with the Widows 8 Metro touch UI, introduced at the expense of the familiar old Windows desktop.

“The learning curve is definitely real,” she said of Metro and Windows 8.

Reller reportedly admitted that Microsoft hadn’t done enough to close the knowledge gap by training staff in outlets selling Windows 8 machines or by educating customers in the run-up to last October's launch.

There also seems to be a hint Microsoft recognizes it slipped up by not doing enough to persuade PC makers to build hardware actually capable of using Metro’s UI, which is largely irrelevant on machines lacking touch screens.

Reller admitted Microsoft hadn’t focused “all of its financial incentives behind the touch screen PCs that show off Windows 8 to best advantage,” the FT said.

The Register revealed in January that Microsoft was blaming PC makers for not building PCs with the right specs to actually run Windows 8 touch.

PC makers shot back, though, saying if they’d followed Microsoft’s advice they’d have been left with a lot of unsold and expensive inventory on their hands.

“It’s very clear we could and should have done more,” Reller told the FT.

While speaking to the press, Reller said Microsoft had sold 100 million licences for Windows 8 during the first six months of availability. That’s the same number of the same time as sales for Windows 7: but Windows 8 was supposed to be a more important operating system for Microsoft's future and was also supposed to target many more form factors and devices. ®

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