It's been a bumpy few months for Windows 8 since its launch last
Global PC sales plunged 14% year-on-year in the first quarter of
2013, and much of the blame was heaped on the lukewarm reception to
) new operating system was supposed to provide a boost to the
ailing industry but has ostensibly failed to do so.
Microsoft says that it has already shifted 100 million Windows 8
licenses, which matches the sales pace of Windows 7, but six months
into the release of the former,
reports that Windows 8 only has a 3.82% share of the desktop OS
market, while Windows 7 and Windows XP still dominate with 44.72%
and 38.31% respectively. Back when Windows 7 was also six months
old it already had an 11.94% share, NetApplications says.
Analysts at IDC say that the new Windows 8, aimed for use on both
traditional PCs and tablets, has alienated customers.
The new Windows 8 interface, with "live" titles for its built-in
apps, has received mixed reviews from users.
"Users are finding Windows 8 to offer a compromised experience that
doesn't excel either as a new mobile interface or in a classic
desktop interface," said Jay Chou, senior research analyst,
. "As a result, many users find a decline in the traditional PC
experience without gaining much from new features like touch. The
result is that many consumers are worried about upgrading to
Windows 8, to say nothing of business users who are still just
getting into Windows 7."
Microsoft, to its credit, is taking active steps to address the
many user complaints about Windows 8. The tech giant will debut the
free Windows 8.1 update (code-named "Blue") later this year, which
will allow users the option of launching the OS with a button on
the bottom left-hand corner of their screens that is similar to the
iconic 'Start' menu of previous Windows iterations.
Will the update change the fate of Windows 8? Richard Windsor,
founder of the mobile-focused blog Radio Free Mobile and a former
tech analyst at Nomura, says that it is almost irrelevant, because
) has stopped gaining market share in the PC world, PC users will
eventually have to upgrade to Windows 8, given the Microsoft
hegemony of the market. So the Redmond, Washington-based company
will not be too worried about the fate of Windows 8 at this point.
The lackluster reception to Windows 8 is probably of much greater
concern to PC makers like
), who "are not sitting on a huge cash pile and 90% market share,"
he tells Minyanville.
Windsor argues that original equipment manufacturers need to better
articulate to customers why they should upgrade to Windows 8,
because "everyone know that Windows 8 exists but no one has a clue
why they should buy it."
The proposition is that of a Microsoft ecosystem, "a unified
experience across all devices that is integrated and easy to use.
But useful and delightful is not what users see. Potential buyers
are presented with what I refer to as Blue Squares of Death," he
says, noting that the problem went away with Windows 7 but
unfortunately resurfaced with Windows 8.
"When a user picks up a Windows Phone or a Windows 8 device at
retail he or she is presented with a screen full of blue or red
squares labeled People, Maps, Music, Games and so on. Hit any one
of these squares and nothing is found. In most cases, the device is
not even connected. This is the equivalent of going into a supercar
showroom with $100,000 in your back pocket and not being able to
have a test drive," opined Windsor.
"Furthermore, Microsoft offers a consistent experience from console
/ TV through PC, tablet and phablet all the way to the phone. These
devices are never displayed together and therefore potential buyers
never realize that this is an ecosystem for every device. How on
earth Microsoft expects user to buy Windows Phones and Windows 8,
when it does not show them what it is capable of and how wide its
scope is, is a mystery."
Jeff Haynes, editor at Tech Bargains, agrees with Windsor that
users will come around to Windows 8 sooner or later.
"Sure, there will be diehard holdouts that will keep Windows 7
alive, but for the most part, user options will boil down to
adopting the system they hate, wait for its replacement, or move to
Mac or Linux," said Haynes.
"As for [Original Equipment Manufacturers], the best thing they can
do is come up with machines that are innovative, affordable, and
that provide new compelling experiences within the Windows 8
ecosystem. You can see this with the rise of convertibles,
ultrabooks, and the upcoming launch of processors like
) Haswell, which purports to substantially expand the battery life
of computers," Haynes added. "If they don't, the OEMs will find
more and more people actively seeking to abandon Windows 8 and
starting the move towards tablet computing instead of laptops and
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