Money Minute: Microsoft Hits 'Back' on Windows; U.S. Middle Class Shrinks


Microsoft goes back to the future.

Many computer users have had trouble adapting to Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows 8 operating system, so the company is coming out next week with an update that brings back some features of Windows 7 and Windows XP. For instance, you'll be able to hit the start button and get the traditional looking desktop. It's also bringing back the familiar "X" and minus buttons to close and minimize various programs. The company calls the updates Windows 8.1. You can call it Windows Classic.

The definition of what's middle class varies, but this much is certain: fewer and fewer Americans consider themselves to be part of that vast middle.
A University of Chicago survey finds the number of people who place themselves in the middle class is now at the lowest level since it began measuring this 40 years ago. This has a very real impact on how much people spend, save and borrow.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 40 points Wednesday, closing within 4 points of its record high. The Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 8 points, and Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) gained 5, moving to its second straight all-time high.

There are all sorts of theories about how to read the market, but one of the oldest is called the Dow Theory. It holds, in part, that when the Dow industrials and the Dow Jones Transportation Average (DJT) reach records at the same time, that's called confirmation and it signals more gains ahead. Well, the Dow transports are there and the industrials are very close.

Not much has gone right for Detroit lately. It's the largest American city ever to file for bankruptcy. But now a bankruptcy court judge has given the city the okay to borrow $120 million in order to buy new police and firefighting vehicles and make other purchases to improve urgent needs. The judge said the city isn't meeting "the basic needs of its citizens."

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

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