My Thoughts on Microsoft Bringing back the Start button and the need for Change in eLearning

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I have always admired companies that have the courage to stick to what they believe in, and because of not wavering in their decisions, they bring about innovation and new ways of thinking.

Two recent example come to mind: 1) Apple not allowing Adobe Flash on the iPhone and iPad; and 2) Adobe recently making the move to a cloud-only Creative Suite product offering.

On the other hand you have Microsoft, which appears to be bringing back the old Start button and enabling users to boot directly to the old desktop view, in the upcoming Windows 8.1 software later this month.

Here’s something Tami Reller from Microsoft told ABC News, which makes a lot of sense to me:

“When we set out to build Windows 8 we set ourselves up for a mobile computing change. All the changes were necessary to make that forward progress – adding the store, building out the store, adding apps and touch and an entire new user experience.”  “It was a great foundation and there is a lot to build on.”

via Microsoft Windows Blue Will Bring User Improvements and Support for Smaller Tablets to Windows 8 – ABC News.

Also, in a recent interview Julie Larson-Green, executive in charge of Windows 8, was asked “Why was it necessary to make such broad changes in Windows 8?” Here’s how she responded, which again makes a lot of sense to me:

When Windows was first created 25 years ago, the assumptions about the world and what computing could do and how people were going to use it were completely different. It was at a desk, with a monitor. Before Windows 8 the goal was to launch into a window, and then you put that window away and you got another one. But with Windows 8, all the different things that you might want to do are there at a glance with the Live Tiles. Instead of having to find many little rocks to look underneath, you see a kind of dashboard of everything that’s going on and everything you care about all at once. It puts you closer to what you’re trying to get done.

via Interview with Julie Larson-Green, the Executive in Charge of Windows 8 at Microsoft Who Just Took Over from Steven Sinofsky. | MIT Technology Review.

So why back down from what they know is change in the right direction?

I realize that listening to customers’ complaints is a great thing, but I’m also reminded of something Steve Jobs once said, namely “most people don’t even know they needed something until Apple invented it and then wondered how they ever got along without it.”


My point is that we need radical changes that can wean people off the old desktop paradigm thinking and move us fully into the new computing era, and I thought that Windows 8 was making all the right moves until this.

I also believe we need some radical changes in our Learning Industry!

For one thing, we need leading Rapid eLearning Vendors to take a stand and stop supporting Adobe Flash and instead turn 100% of their focus on helping us develop multi-screen learning experiences based on HTML5 and Responsive Design principals.

Who is going to be the first Vendor to step up to the plate and start a revolution?

Do you agree?

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  • I wish rapid development tools could drop Flash, but the fact is, legacy is too prevalent inside the corporation. It might work for consumer facing learning, but not internal in my case. I support IE9 which is limited in its HTML5 abilities. Even Responsive Web Design is a pain on IE9, Edge Reflow doesn’t even support it yet (but it is still beta).

    I think keeping the current functionality as a back-end and no longer developed feature would allow for that legacy while moving towards newer functionality that works with responsive web design and HTML5 would be ideal.

    I’d like to be able to choose whether to go legacy or move to newer tech. If it was up to me I’d always move to newer tech, but unfortunately the IT department is usually involved.

  • Chad Lowry

    Co-sign with what Nick said. In this case, we are captive to our audience.

  • Tristan Ward

    I agree with the above comments. For smaller companies where it’s only a matter of updating ten computers, it’s easy to stay with the times. But those companies don’t need eLearning. The people who in reality are going to hire you have such a massive workforce that even upgrading a browser is an epic obstacle. Even more so when they have web based tools that need to be updated to work with said browser.

    Also, as my job is it to program interactions in training courses and to assist others trying to do so, from what I can see HTML5 is only going to hold people’s creativity back. Not many eLearning developers are programmers, but I’m starting to see a number of them shift in that direction. Building an interaction for one platform is scary enough, but having to make sure it will work in a desktop browser, iPhone browser, iPad browser, Android browser, and that browser Jimmy from HR is using that no one has ever heard about, is enough to make an experienced programmer consider a career change.

    I felt the tide of advancement coming in, then HTML5 came and its slowly going out. I wonder how long it will take to come back.

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