SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft is trying to fix what it got wrong with its radical makeover of Windows. It’s making the operating system easier to navigate and enabling users to set up the software so it starts in a more familiar format designed for personal computers.
The revisions to Windows 8 will be released later this year. The free update, called Windows 8.1, represents Microsoft’s concession to longtime customers taken aback by the changes to an operating system that had become a staple in households and offices around the world during the past 20 years.
With the release of Windows 8 seven months ago, Microsoft introduced a start-up screen displaying applications in a mosaic of interactive tiles instead of static icons. The shift agitated many users who wanted the option to launch the operating system in a mode that resembled the old setup. That choice will be provided in Windows 8.1.
However, Microsoft isn’t bringing back the start menu on the lower left corner of the screen. Windows has offered the button for accessing all programs and settings on every previous version of the operating system since 1995.
Microsoft believes the start-up screen replaces the need for a button, but its omission has ranked among the biggest gripes about Windows 8.
Microsoft is hoping to quiet the critics by resurrecting an omnipresent Windows logo anchored in the lower left corner. Users will also be able to ensure their favorite applications, including Word and Excel, appear in a horizontal tool bar next to the Windows logo. Accessing apps outside the toolbar will still require using the tiles or calling them up in a more comprehensive search engine included in the Windows 8.1 updates.
Microsoft Corp. disclosed its plans for Windows 8.1 in early May, but it didn’t offer details about what it will include until Thursday.
The Redmond, Wash., company will provide a more extensive tour of Windows 8.1 at a conference for programmers in San Francisco, scheduled to begin June 26.
Antoine Leblond, a Microsoft executive who helps oversee the operating system’s program management, said the ability to start PCs in the more familiar format is meant to ease the ‘‘cognitive dissonance’’ caused by Windows 8.
Microsoft made the dramatic overhaul to Windows in an attempt to expand the operating system’s franchise beyond personal computers that rely on keyboards and mice to smartphones and tablet computers. But Windows 8 has been widely panned as a disappointment, even though Microsoft says it has licensed more than 100 million copies so far.
If Windows 8.1 doesn’t stimulate more sales of PCs and tablets running on the operating system, it could escalate the pressure on Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer. Although revenue and earnings have steadily risen since Ballmer became CEO 13 years ago, Microsoft’s stock performance has lagged behind other technology companies.