The reviews are in. The changes to Microsoft Relevant Products/Services Windows 8 are a success at first glance. But will it help sales?

In a nutshell -- and at the heart of the changes -- the Start button is returning to the user interface on the lower-left corner of the screen. When you left-click that icon it pulls up the Start screen, though, rather than the pop-menu Windows used in previous versions. A right-click calls up a menu including the Task Manager, Control Panel, search and other tools.

Other changes include the ability to boot into the desktop interface, saving a few clicks. There are also new personalization features, a new search paradigm and Xbox Music has been redesigned with what Microsoft hopes users will find to be an easier-to-use interface.

'Colossal Screw-Up'

For analysis on the potential impact of the upgraded Windows 8, we turned to Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. He told us Windows 8.1 seems to answer most of the issues and concerns in the marketplace, particularly among enterprise Relevant Products/Services customers.

"The initial launch of Windows 8 obviously has to be considered one of the more colossal screw ups in the company's history," King quipped, "but I do think they've done a pretty good job in redressing that."

Will it help drive more sales? That depends. King said it's critical for Redmond to get buy-in from enterprise customers.

"Going back to Start menu and making the tile interface an option on the task bar is probably what the company should have done in the first place," King said. "It makes the Windows 8 environment much friendlier for businesses and a lot less disruptive than the original version."

Waiting for Haswell

Windows 8 may get an additional boost later this year. That's because although the operating system works well on Intel Relevant Products/Services Ivy Bridge-processor Relevant Products/Services PCs, laptops and tablets, most analysts agree that the next-generation Haswell-processor systems that come out this fall will make it shine.

"The overall performance and new features on those systems and the commonality of the touch interface will be so powerful -- and frankly kind of cool for many users -- that whatever questions they may have had about Windows 8 will fade into the background," King said. "Windows 8 on a Haswell system will be a pretty seamless experience."

As King sees it, part of problem with Windows 8 at its initial launch was the fact that it was designed for touch. Most systems didn't have touch, and trying to navigate the interface with a mouse was awkward. All things considered, he said he expects sales of Windows 8.1 to stabilize and probably improve over time.