For the average desktop user Windows 8 is a disaster that has happened. Windows Red is an open proposal to Microsoft to undo the damage and make everyone happy - and it makes a lot of sense.
There really is no avoiding the fact that Windows 8 isn't doing well. It is currently estimated to have fewer users than Windows Vista and it is even blamed for the decline in the desktop PC market.
Microsoft has to do something about it but it looks as if its promise to rethink Windows 8 is going to be wasted because Windows 8.1 is just a fix for what Windows 8 didn't do well on first release.
There is also the underhanded attempt to satisfy its critics by bringing back the "start button" - it's a button but it doesn't start what critics wanted it to. Instead of the Start menu it takes users back to the Start screen with a huge overhead in usability because of the context switch. You can see this as a cynical attempt to take the critics for suckers by doing what they asked in word rather than deed.
Now we have a response from the Editor in Chief of InfoWorld, Eric Knorr, who has issued an open letter to Microsoft about his idea for Windows Red. As Windows 8.1 is codenamed Windows Blue it seems an appropriate name. In case Microsoft doesn't get it, there is also a slideshow that should be enough to convince a five-year old.
The key idea is:
"Almost every reviewer has said the same thing: Windows 8 is two operating systems awkwardly bolted together and difficult for users to navigate. So in Windows Red, we've taken the obvious measure of separating them."
Eighteen months ago we said that it was a bolted together OS and even called it Windows 8: A Frankenstein Monster.
Windows Red is a great idea and Knorr goes on to explain that separation need not mean isolation. The suggestion is that WinRT apps should be able to run on the desktop, lots of WinRT apps and utilities should be incorporated into the desktop and so on.
Of course if Microsoft was to actually see the sense of Red, it can achieve the same result without having to unstitch its Frankenstein of an operating system. Right from the beginning it was obvious that WinRT could be run in a desktop window and the start screen could be accessed without the context switch that kills all desktop activity. Done this way Windows 8 would have added features and facilities without killing the desktop.
So far Microsoft hasn't replied to the proposal - and somehow, given it's obvious it has a big need to keep digging the hole it is in, I doubt that we will hear anything.