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5/1/2013
12:03 PM
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Windows 8 Adoption Limps On

Windows 8 is making only marginal progress and Windows RT continues to flop. That adds to the pressure on Windows Blue.

On a related theme, the report reasserts that though Windows remains the most dominant OS, Microsoft's empire is slowly eroding. Net Applications found that 91.78% of computers and hybrids run some form of Windows. The product line's share hasn't been above 92% since July 2012 and hasn't been above 93% since July 2011. The various versions of OS X, meanwhile, accounted for less than 6% of users in July 2011 but now account for more than 7%. Such shifts do not amount to a major power realignment, but their sustained duration, along with Apple's market-beating performance throughout the PC slump, suggest that Windows is doing little to improve Microsoft's industry influence.

If the world were still focused only on PCs, Microsoft would have nothing to worry about. But analysts expect tablets to outsell traditional PCs for the foreseeable future.

Even if Microsoft remains the preferred OS for desktop users, the company will need to make strides in the mobile market if Windows is to maintain its overall industry clout.

Microsoft will almost certainly remain a powerhouse no matter what happens, but it's one thing to be the industry's sole superpower, and quite another to be one of several. With Google, Apple, Samsung and others all more firmly established among tablet-minded consumers, the overall OS landscape -- including the loyalties of developers -- is in motion.

Indeed, even Windows 7 speaks to the increasingly fragmented market. As mentioned, Microsoft's most popular OS stands to gain even more ground as Windows XP is retired. But XP claimed more than 80% of the market at its peak. Windows 7 is unlikely to reach this number, not only because its current share is so much less than 80% but also, to a lesser extent, because some XP machines will be replaced with Macs, Chromebooks, or Android or iOS devices.

Windows 8's struggles also speak to this fragmentation, and to how it affects assessments of a given OS's performance. Win8 has amassed much less than the 12% market share Windows 7 had snared through the same point in its release cycle, but the number of active PCs in the world has also increased over time. This increase inflates the extent to which newer Windows versions appear to trail their predecessors. For Windows 7 to improve on Windows XP's market share, the newer OS will need to sell substantially more licenses. Likewise, Windows 8 would have needed to outperform Windows 7 just to achieve the same market penetration.

All in all, the new numbers leave Windows 8's prospects more or less where they were before: reliant on both new devices with next-generation Intel chips, and Windows Blue, a major OS update expected by this fall. If the new offerings are a hit, Windows 8's early missteps could soon be forgotten. But if Win8 adoption continues to be slow through the end of the year, Microsoft will face more criticism than ever.

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Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
5/2/2013 | 11:00:45 PM
re: Windows 8 Adoption Limps On
Thanks for your thoughts, AustinIT. I think there's a good chance that you're right. Ultrabooks have failed to catch on for a number of reasons: price, lack of touchscreen models, competition from tablets and the MacBook Air, etc. Windows 8 has likewise failed to catch on for a number of reasons: the UI dissatisfaction, lack of quality apps, the Win8/Win RT confusion, a series of questionable PR and advertising decisions, everything that also hampered the Ultrabooks, etc. But none of these reasons nullify Win8's chances to rebound once new devices and Windows Blue are on the market.

Microsoft, as you noted, is pointed in the right direction in many regards, at least based on rumors and the leaked Windows 8.1 builds. They still haven't addressed all criticisms, and they still need to execute their plans. But, yeah, I also suspect things will look different once we hit the back-to-school and holiday seasons. That doesn't mean that Win8 will surge to Windows 7's level, or that Apple and Android won't continue outselling Microsoft in the consumer and enterprise tablet markets. But after a rough start, I think Windows 8 is starting to trend up.

Michael Endler, IW Associate Editor
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2013 | 9:44:24 PM
re: Windows 8 Adoption Limps On
Business adoption lags well behind the curve when a new OS comes out. That's natural because it requires a LOT of planning, testing and training in order to introduce it into production. As if that's not bad enough, Win8 is arriving on the heels of in-process Win7 migrations. It may be well over a year before business adoption gets started in earnest.
Win8 already allows quite a bit of customization of the Start screen. The 8.1 (blue) release will cure most of the issues. Plus, look at Stardock's Start8 product. You will like it.
Bob Gill
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Bob Gill,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2013 | 9:30:13 PM
re: Windows 8 Adoption Limps On
We went to Windows 7 last year. In 2 to 3 years, we'll go to whatever Windows OS is at least 1 year old.

Flop? Maybe RT, but for the regular OS, it's just the normal adoption curve.
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2013 | 8:02:41 PM
re: Windows 8 Adoption Limps On
Windows 8 is competing with its predecessors more than on any other front. The fact that it is doing well (by comparison) in the mobile market speaks well to its future.

Microsoft still has a lot to do to get this thing to gel but they are making mostly the right moves to get there. Things will be quite different going into the Holiday season and early next year.
moonwatcher
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moonwatcher,
User Rank: Strategist
5/2/2013 | 7:01:07 PM
re: Windows 8 Adoption Limps On
The problem isn't that Windows 8 is bad, but rather that after having a START button for over a decade, taking it out (and why?) caught many people unaware. Us tech people need to remember than most people's lives don't revolve around keeping up with various operating systems. They have using a computer in a certain way engraved in their brains, so when many bought new PCs over the busy holidays they were unpleasantly surprised. Microsoft should have made it a CHOICE at system 1st boot as to whether you wanted the Metro, er I mean Modern UI interface, or one closer to Windows 7, but with an icon for getting to the Modern UI anytime you wanted. Closer integration of the browsers in both interfaces would not have been as confusing either.

As far as tablet OSs go, do we really NEED or WANT another one? Microsoft is late coming to the game. Most consumers have made that choice (Apple iOS or a flavor of Android) a long time ago, and don't seem to be in a rush to abandon either one. Without a killer app to pull people away from either camp, I don't see Windows 8 RT or Surface Pro making much headway.

To be fair, once tablets have more computing power, consumers will (eventually) want an OS that is more powerful than a phone OS. The question is whether Microsoft is too far ahead of the game on that, especially given the price points of the more powerful tablets so far compared to what most people are willing to pay.
So, it's like they are providing the worst of each world right now: An operating system that alienates desktop and lap top users, but yet doesn't appeal to tablet or phone users.
What will Microsoft do? Drop back and punt, or try to stick it out until tablets with more performance come down in price such that more consumers might be willing to try them?
At the very least they should put back in the ye olde START button for desktop users. No one I know wants to be reaching for a touch screen at their desktop all the time when the mouse/keyboard interface works just fine.
Thank God Windows 7 will be around a long, long time...
Mark532010
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Mark532010,
User Rank: Strategist
5/2/2013 | 6:45:14 PM
re: Windows 8 Adoption Limps On
I like Windows. I think it is a great environment for business, far superior to linux or OSX for central IT's ability to control what is happening.

I don't think Microsoft is pushing Win8 to businesses like it should. there are several gpo's to turn off the portions of Win8 that a specific business won't tolerate - like accessing the App store, using picture passwords, Metro user-info app sharing, basically all of the metro stuff.
If Microsoft would just get off its high horse and either give a lot more control over the start screen or allow a start menu, businesses would be a lot more tolerant of it.
Lord_Beavis
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Lord_Beavis,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2013 | 6:23:30 PM
re: Windows 8 Adoption Limps On
I hope Windows 8 is another nail Microsoft's coffin. If they do do like Apple and build a GUI on top of Linux, they are doomed.
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