It’s not Windows 8 in rapid-development, it’s Microsoft.

A few years ago, there was a term synonymous with Microsoft – dinosaur. These critics weren’t far off; the age-old PC giant seemed resistant to adapting with the shifting landscape. Then, they went radical with a complete change and modernisation – so much it alienated many users.

Of course I’m talking about Windows 8, the first OS from the company which took into account the myriad of new devices – tablets, smartphones, and touch screen laptops.

The goal was to be simple; have a familiar UX which works the same, and can be used with any of the new inputs.

Dubbed the “Modern UI” (a bold, yet apt claim) it was a departure from the individual sandboxed applications of yesteryear; instead going for glorious full-screen experiences. This new experience required completely new development, which trickled in slowly, leaving many to revert to the “Desktop” for accessing their favourite apps.

The desktop offered the same UI introduced in Windows 95, except with one major difference, the removal of the iconic “Start Button” always found comfortingly in the bottom-left. And people freaked.

For fairly technologically adept users, it wasn’t a big deal –in fact I preferred it. I could see why Microsoft made this decision; to make people use the new Modern UI more, and the Desktop less... except it wasn’t ready for this major transition. Not even Office 2013 is built for Modern UI.

With Windows 8.1, Microsoft's addressing most of the complaints and is now shipping a usable OS for the majority of customers. But will it be too late? Has a bitter taste already been left in their potential market? I know I’ll never forget that video of Chris Pirillo’s dad “How Real People Will Use Windows 8” – but alas, I’m a fairly forgiving type.

It’s not been a good year for Microsoft all-round. Alongside Windows 8 failures, Windows Phone not gaining relevant momentum, and the controversy around the new Xbox One; DRM, mandatory Kinect, departure of Don Mattrick to Zynga... Redmond is surely ready to sweep 2013 under the rug.

From the outside, it’s really frustrating to see – every idea has been fantastic, but poorly executed.

Now, like Windows’ new rapid-cycle, it looks like the firm is rapidly preparing itself for a brand-new year. 2014, I believe, Microsoft means business.

Steve Ballmer recently had a complete internal reshuffle – with some fantastic new choices. Then the CEO announced his own plans to step-down which he mentions is at a period “least disruptive” to the company going forward. Right now, with Windows and Xbox under fire, it’s a more disruptive time than ever in the company’s history. He’s a clever man, he knows this, but he’s getting out the way for a fresh 2014.

The biggest question is who will replace him and take the coveted position?

Alongside today’s acquisition of Nokia (further securing their new position as a software and devices company) the legendary Finnish manufacturer’s CEO Stephen Elop is confirmed to be in the running. Not only is Mr. Elop a man with plenty of device experience which could lead Microsoft into this new era - he is also mentioned as being the more charismatic of CEO’s.

With the sudden panic and disruptive changes; it’s quite obvious – to me at least – Microsoft is rapidly setting itself in the best position to tackle 2014, and hopefully make it far more successful.

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