There's no doubt that Windows 8 continues to perform well below expectations and that 5 percent market share is nothing but the living proof.
Microsoft has invested a fortune to make Windows 8 a successful product, but in some cases, it failed miserably. The problem isn't necessarily the fact that the company still praises Windows 8 and continues to claim that everything goes according to the plan, but the fact that CEO Steve Ballmer keeps investing in the operating system, trying to make it a hit.
I won't talk about the reasons why Windows 8 still fails to impress because analysts and experts around the world have told the same thing over and over again, but there's one important aspect that needs to be mentioned.
Windows 8 brings so many changes that people find it hard to get used to them.
The Modern UI, be it good or bad, is a completely new feature that changes everything about the OS, so it's no wonder that so many companies delay the move to Windows 8 because their employees would need additional training.
That's why Windows 8.1 is playing such an important role. Ballmer and other high-profile executives claim that 8.1 is a proof that Microsoft is listening to users, so the “modern” operating system should become a much more familiar working environment.
The truth is that Microsoft listened to customer feedback, but it replied in its very own way. One that doesn't force Ballmer to admit that he was wrong.
The Start button is back and that's a great win for Windows users from all over the world. When Microsoft officially confirmed that it planned to bring back the Start button, we all thought that it was one of those moments when the company was about to step in and apologize for its decision to remove such an important feature from the operating system. That never happened though.
In fact, I'm pretty sure that Microsoft has never thought that so many people are addicted to the Start button.
So the Softies agreed to bring back the Start button in Windows 8.1, but instead of launching the traditional Start Menu, it actually gets users to the Start screen. The same Start screen also available in Windows 8 that's creating so much confusion for some users.
So what is Microsoft doing? The company admits that it was wrong to remove the Start button without actually saying it loud and clear.
And what's more, it brings back a version that does almost nothing just to show users that it cares about their opinions.
We've heard people saying that Microsoft is making fun of them with this new button, while others have posted on the company's support forums to explain that it's nothing more than “an insult to their intelligence.”
And it might very well be.
The funny thing is that the Start button, such a tiny Windows feature that has been around for years, could actually decide the company's future. Windows 8 has indeed failed to excite and the lack of a Start button is definitely one of the reasons.
Users can't simply get over it.
But Windows 8.1 is making everything a lot worse. Lots of outraged users who asked for the Start button back in Windows 8 might actually feel insulted by Microsoft's way of addressing consumer feedback.
The only good news for Microsoft is that most people still have no other choice than Windows.
While Mac OS X devices are way too expensive, Linux is far from becoming a user-friendly environment, so Windows continues to dominate the OS market. But the Start button could also be one of the reasons why so many people stick to Windows XP 8 months before its retirement, while those who agree to switch go for Windows 7.
In the end, the Start button is no longer just a simple Windows feature. It's the element that has caused a never-ending fight between Microsoft and its users.
At some dimension, the Start button is the user. And unless Microsoft treats the Start button right, its Modern OS can't succeed.