Windows 8 Uptake Remains Slow During The Holidays
December 24, 2012

Microsoft Windows 8 Remains Unpopular So Far With Consumers

Peter Suciu for — Your Universe Online

While consumers may line up for the next new device with the lower case “i” in front of it, Microsoft isn´t getting the same attention with its latest Windows offering.

Back in the mid-1990s when Steve Jobs was in the proverbial wilderness and Apple was on the decline, the techies of the day lined up for the release of Windows 95. Subsequent releases of Windows 98, ME and of course XP resulted in consumers expressing interest in upgrading their PCs to take advantage of what the new operating system offered.

The run up to Windows 8, which arrived at retail last month, had all the appearances that history might repeat itself — and while no one may have expected “fans” to line up to get their hands on the latest OS from Microsoft, it was expected that it would generate decent sales.

This year the Windows shoppers didn´t come.

The New York Times reported the Microsoft store in Bellevue, Washington — not far from the company´s HQ in Redmond — has only seen a “trickle” of shoppers.

Microsoft is not alone in experiencing gloomy holiday sales. In fact overall computer sales leading up to the holidays this year have been disappointing. Moreover Microsoft and other companies that depend on the computer industry won´t likely see a major turnaround in sales in the foreseeable future either.

So what is the cause for the lackluster sales? The most obvious answer could be the continued lackluster economy, but another problem was noted by Business Insider, which highlighted two problems with Windows 8.

First, the new OS offers “a new experience with a steep learning curve that is intimidating some consumers.” But Business Insider added, “Consumers are buying iPads, and delaying upgrades of their Windows-based PCs.”

There remains another factor to this, however. Tablets, which remain among the fast growing categories, are doing very well. Even Microsoft´s Surface tablet turned heads when it was released this fall. But tablets in general are doing well because these remain content consumption devices rather than content creation devices.

“Depending on what you are doing,” said Rhoda Alexander, Director Monitor Research for IHS iSuppli Corporation, “it can be easier to do on a notebook. But as these tablets mature and add more functionality, they will have better creation elements built into the system.”

That is starting to happen, as the Surface can demonstrate.

But that in itself is part of the problem. The Surface isn´t a Windows 8 machine but rather a Windows RT machine.

Consumers are thus embracing machines to consume content but not replacing their machines to create content. And part of this is that consumers and businesses alike may not want to jump to a new operating system

After the debacle that was Windows Vista, Microsoft rebounded with Windows 7. But now with a radically different interface consumers are standoffish.

NPD Group, which tracks sales of consumer electronics and computer technology, noted sales of Windows actually declined in October when Windows 8 made its debut compared with sales a year earlier.

“I think everybody would have hoped for a better start,” Stephen Baker, an analyst at NPD told the New York Times. “The thing is, this market is not the same market that Windows 7 or Vista or even XP launched into.”