Yes, Windows users will get some variation of the Start button back with Windows 8.1, but that doesn’t mean Microsoft’s big update to Windows 8 will be catered more toward traditional desktop users. ZDNet’s Ed Bott has a sharp piece of analysis explaining why the most important features to Windows 8.1 will be geared toward making the operating system run better on tablets than on non-touch PCs. In particular, Bott notes that Microsoft has eased up its display resolution guidelines with Windows 8.1 to pave the way for smaller tablets that can nonetheless be used like traditional PCs with full access to Microsoft Office.
The question, though, is whether consumers will buy what Microsoft is selling. The original Surface similarly had PC-like capabilities and didn’t sell well at all, so it will be interesting to see if consumers are more keen on the same proposition at a smaller size and a lower cost.
“Microsoft’s gamble is that Windows users will see [PC capabilities] as a positive, rather than as needless complexity,” Bott writes. “They’re betting that frugal PC buyers will be attracted to the possibility of versatile devices. But in a world where we’ve become used to thinking of small, cheap devices as disposable, single-purpose tools, can that philosophy succeed?”