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Mandatory means that any Windows 8.1 machine that doesn’t have “the Update” when the grace period expires will no longer receive updates. Windows 8 computers are not affected by this. That is, you don’t have to install Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.1 Update to continue receiving updates.
Obviously, quite a few users who installed Windows 8.1 Update have been complaining, and Microsoft listens to their customers. It is unlikely that many private users complained. The customers who complained are probably businesses that are running consumer editions of Windows 8.1.
In my view, Microsoft shouldn’t listen so much to businesses that are unable or unwilling to keep up with the new pace. Yes, updates have to be tested before they are deployed. However, how fast this can be done mostly depends on the resources IT has available.
The IT world is revolving faster now, and IT matters more than ever. I think businesses have to adapt to this new situation and invest more in IT. Those businesses that are unable to keep up with the new pace have a significant competitive disadvantage.
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If Microsoft allows the slowest organizations to determine the speed with which the Windows world moves ahead, then Redmond will suffer too in the long run. Microsoft’s competitors won’t slow down their innovations just because some Microsoft customers prefer to stick with what they know.