WILL THE UPDATE HELP?
In addition to the new Start "tip" feature, the Windows 8.1 update -- which Microsoft has said will be available in late 2013 -- will include improved built-in apps, a search function with enhanced aggregation of search results, and PC settings that allow users to more easily access settings. The update also will come with Internet Explorer 11, which will feature faster page load times and the ability to sync open tabs across multiple Windows 8.1 devices.
Will all those changes be enough to convince customers to make the switch?
Michael Goldstein, president of LAN Infotech, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based VAR, said the new features are evidence that Microsoft is listening to customers.
"Some of the enhancements will make it easier to use and are really going to make a big difference," Goldstein said. "The keyboard and mouse movements are really big. We have a couple Windows 8 tablets and they didn't move as well as iOS."
On the other hand, Derek Davis, principal and managing partner at Intelli-Net, a Greenville, S.C.-based solution provider, thinks Microsoft needs to go further.
"In terms of corporate acceptance of Windows 8, I don't necessarily think the 'tile look' of Windows 8 is helpful ... but changing the habit of pressing a 'Start' button is hard to do," Davis said. "It would also be nice if we could turn 'off' the Tiles interface for nontouch appliances -- like desktops."
Garry Hickerson, senior account manager at Infian, a Richmond, Va.-based solution provider, doesn't see Windows 8.1 making much of a difference for customers.
"End users are looking for speed and ease of pointers for productivity. They don't need their production software to mimic a social media setting with 'tiles' and 'apps'. A road warrior shouldn't have to go through clicks and searches to find a printer/scanner connected to their system," he said.
"With the demands put on workers these days, it is critical that they have one-click access to all of the available programs and devices at their disposal. I personally just needed to scan receipts from a recent business trip," Hickerson added. "I had to search for the control panel [in Windows 8], then select all devices and printers and then select my scanner just to start that project. With Windows 7, I just pulled up that device from my Start button. Apps and tiles are fun, but let us get our work done quickly in order to have any time to enjoy them."
ROB WRIGHT contributed to this story.
PUBLISHED JUNE 3, 2013