re: What Microsoft Windows 8 License Numbers Don't Say
Thanks for your thoughts, Terabyte Net. Windows 8 gives some users reason to be passionate, and I'm glad you're bringing that perspective to the conversation.
I'll grant that some within the media probably have it in for Microsoft. But to blame Win8's sales on journalists and bloggers is to exclude a lot of factors. I won't get into the merits of the UI, since that's obviously subjective. But even if we assume that Windows 8 is a worthy OS, its adoption has faced a lot of challenges, many of which have nothing to do with what members of the press say or think.
First, there's the choice factor, which I described in my reply to Chrisgull, as well as in a recent column.
Second, there's cost. The first round of Windows 8 devices weren't cheap. Microsoft and company are in the process of rectifying this problem-- but I'm sure I'm not the only one who decided that the Surface Pro, though an attractive device, was just too expensive.
Third, there's Microsoft's Windows 8 marketing. Until recently, most ads focused on hyperkinetic editing, stomping school girls, and boardroom meetings that spontaneously burst into breakdancing. Some of the ads are kind of cool-- but they do almost NOTHING to communicate how the devices work. If Microsoft had showed off some interesting capabilities, people might have been more willing to deal with the learning curve. Put another way, Windows Phone 8 has made relatively better progress than Windows 8. I personally found many of the celebrity-driven WIndows Phone 8 ads disingenuous, but the commercials nonetheless showed off the user experience. I don't have hard proof, but I think this difference in marketing tactics probably contributed to Windows Phone 8's relative advantage in consumer adoption. (To be fair, Intel's Ultrabook ads did a better job communicating the UE of Windows 8-- but any victories those commercials might have achieved could have been offset by the cost of the advertised devices.)
There's also the state of the computing market and the larger economy. If you're a business user that already relies on Windows 7, does Windows 8 offer some advantages? Yes. Are these advantages enough to demand an upgrade? Not for everyone. Some of the individual buyers for whom Windows 8 might be appealing haven't had a clear reason to upgrade. They already have legacy applications and portability with their existing Windows 7 laptops-- and if they don't need something thinner or lighter, or something with a touchscreen, I can see why a lot of would-be buyers have thus far decided that Win8's under-the-hood improvements in stability aren't worth the expense.
Enterprises, meanwhile, aren't going to even think about deploying a new OS until 2014, if not later. That delay, combined with the point in the previous paragraph, basically means that the population of users most likely to prefer Win8 over tablet-based alternatives hasn't had an irresistible need to upgrade.
Then there's consumers. A lot of them just don't need the full OS experience. Some do. But many just don't-- or they at least don't feel like they do, and Microsoft, as noted above, hasn't offered the marketing to persuade them otherwise. If consumers already have iPads for the things they do most often, why buy an expensive new Windows 8 device? This limitation would be present even if the Windows 8 UI were more universally praised. I'm a big camera person, and I think Canon's 1DC and BlackMagic's Cinema Camera are pretty cool devices. But do I NEED them? Not at all-- which is the reason I haven't bought either. I think the same logic applies when some tablet users consider upgrading to Windows 8.
So, did the media have some role in Windows 8's sales? Yes. But would Microsoft have sold 2-3x as many copies if journalists and bloggers had played a different tune? I doubt it. If Microsoft had sold 2-3x as many Win8 copies, it would have blown Windows 7 adoption out of the water-- and given the above variables, I'm skeptical that ANY amount of positive press could have precipitated that result.