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Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface

Windows 8's look and feel is still a flop with consumers, especially with those who don't use tablets, two studies say.

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Consumer response to Windows 8's Metro interface falls somewhere between negative and indifferent, based on the results of two studies released this week.

Though the findings are not surprising, given the embattled OS's sluggish adoption, they offer Microsoft a few silver linings, such as the fact that Win8 is far less reviled than Windows Vista. Nevertheless, the studies reassert the pressure Redmond faces as it readies Windows 8.1, a much-anticipated update expected to debut next month.

On Wednesday, Soluto, a PC management company based in Tel Aviv, published a study of Metro users' app activity. Derived from a sample of 10,848 Windows 8 machines Soluto monitors, the report states that users with touchscreens launched 47% more Metro apps than those with traditional hardware, a conclusion that jives with an earlier report that claimed the OS's tablet adoption has outpaced its desktop and laptop adoption.

Still, even among the study's tablet users, 44% launched a Metro app less than once daily. That number predictably jumped to 60% among desktop and laptop users, for whom the UI's touch-centric Live Tiles do not offer obvious benefits. Indeed, the study found that Metro failed to impress even those with touch-equipped laptops; 58.10% of these users launch a Metro app less than once daily.

[ What does our "touch skeptic" think after spending two weeks with Windows 8? Read Windows 8: 4 Things I've Learned. ]

Across the entire study, users of all types launched Metro apps 1.52 times a day. Tablet users launched 2.71 apps per day. Without similar metrics for Android and iOS apps -- Soluto said it might release this data in the future -- it is difficult to put these numbers in any concrete context. Even so, it's hard to imagine that such low figures indicate consumer approval.

The study found that Microsoft's native Mail, People, Messaging and Calendar apps were the most popular. 86% of users used at least one of the apps. No other apps were used by more than half of the sampled population.

Soluto noted that while fewer users than not have installed the Yahoo! Mail app, those who have are particularly engaged, launching it an average of 26.91 times per week. The most frequently accessed of any Metro app, regardless of form factor, Yahoo! Mail is curiously popular, the study notes, because Windows 8's native Mail app supports Yahoo accounts out of the box. Soluto blames Metro's confusing UI for this outcome, speculating that it's easier to install Yahoo! Mail than to add a new account within Win8's Mail app.

"If you're pragmatic about using the Windows operating system with a keyboard and mouse -- there’s no rush. Wait and see what Windows Blue has in store for us before you upgrade," the report advises.

Released on Tuesday, a new study from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a survey founded by the University of Michigan, also came to ho-hum conclusions about Windows 8.

Microsoft earned an ASCI customer satisfaction score of 74 and was the only software company substantial enough to warrant its own statistical breakout. All other software companies in the study were lumped together and aggregately achieved a score of 76. The national average for all industries in the study, which spanned a variety of consumer-oriented categories, was 76.6.

Redmond's score was down one point from last year, and down four points from its all-time high of 78 in 2011, when Windows 7 was the company's most prominent product. The current mark is comfortably above Microsoft's all-time low of 69, however, which the company earned in 2008, the second year Windows Vista was on the market. The study concludes that Windows 8 has neither helped nor hurt Microsoft's overall reputation, a contention made in at least one other recent report.

With Windows 8.1, Microsoft hopes to show that it can make the Metro UI more user-friendly and engaging. Given that OEMs will soon launch faster, cheaper and lighter Win8 tablets, a successful OS update could position Redmond for meaningful market share gains. If the company posts disappointing back-to-school and holiday sales for the second consecutive year, however, its dedication to the Metro UI will become increasingly difficult to defend.

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User Rank: Apprentice
5/22/2013 | 6:30:17 PM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
This is a powerful indication that the Windows 8/Windows RT/Metro
UI/Apps Store ecosystem has been a complete and total disaster for
Microsoft, almost totally alienating PC users while simultaneously
failing to move the needle one iota regarding Microsoft's "strategy" to
try to become relevant in mobile computing in any fashion whatsoever.
User Rank: Apprentice
5/22/2013 | 6:17:14 PM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
When I first used Windows 8 it was on a laptop without touch screen and i did not like it. I could not find anything. Then I used a friends laptop with touch screen and learned some the short cuts to the apps and I began to like it more and more. If you can use a smart phone you can use Windows 8. And from what I am reading 8.1 should resolve some concerns of many folks.
User Rank: Ninja
5/22/2013 | 5:13:05 PM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
It was very frustrating for me. I HAD to buy a new PC in February and Dell insisted that it had to have Windows 8 on I was stuck. Now I get advertisements from them touting the fact that Windows 7 is still available. That kind of paints a picture...
User Rank: Ninja
5/22/2013 | 5:12:39 PM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
I bet Microsoft did their own study with the same results which makes it even more incredible Ballmer decided to do nothing and release Win8 anyway. I doubt the revenue generated from the Windows Store makes up for lost OS sales. If I were a stockholder I'd say Ballmer cost the company a lot of revenue and must go.
User Rank: Ninja
5/22/2013 | 5:05:59 PM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
You push a tablet user interface in the face of a bunch of desktop and lap top users who have no use for it and what do you expect, love? I think not. In trying to push their tablet and phone UI too hard, they have alienated the one group that actually liked Microsoft's operating systems. Really dumb. Give us back the START button and a real Desktop and an icon that lets us choose to get to the Metro, er I mean "Modern" UI if and when we want (for some that might be never).
User Rank: Apprentice
5/22/2013 | 5:03:59 PM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
I've only been using computers since 1969, still a noob...

Yes, I have used interfaces from just about every supplier.

Learning new things is not much of a problem for me.

I actually beta tested every version of Windows until Vista.

I quit that one about 3/4 of the way through because MS refused to listen to the majority of testers who said it was junk.

This W8 Metro thing has me puzzled...why the hell would MS pull another stupid stunt so soon after Vista? Making Metro the default interface on all machines is so stupid...if it's not a tablet/touchscreen, Metro should be disabled by default!
I think we should fire those who made that decision. I will even supply a gallon of gasoline and a match...
User Rank: Apprentice
5/22/2013 | 4:55:32 PM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
People just don't get it. They don't know what's good for them. They're dumb. And they just want to complain. <- That sums up most of what Windows 8 advocates and even Microsoft says about people who simply don't WANT to use this OS. Look, this is really very simple. If you make a car no one wants to drive you had better go back and make something else if you want to stay in the car business. You don't complain that no one wants to buy your car and you don't blame them for poor design. The market is going to buy what it wants. You can make that and profit or make what you want and shoot for a niche.
barrie smith
barrie smith,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/22/2013 | 4:37:56 PM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
I am someone who has followed and used Windows sine ME. I was happy with W7 but took advantage of the low priced upgrade and on installation I thought I would be OK with 8. But as time went on I became more and more frustrated with it as functions and shortcuts which I had been using all seem to be changed. The start menu being only one of many issues.

Yes, I know I can install Stardock, but really, why should I? It should be an integral part of the operating system. I use the start menu all the time in W7, why should MS make me change what they have taught me.
This has all happened as MS now want to follow Apple's lead in making it's customers pay for every little app going. Not the first time MS has followed somebody else's lead.

If I had come in as a new user I'm sure my reaction would be favourable than it currently is.

My other half won't even look at it as she feels she has been betrayed by MS.

I have now dual booted with a Linux distro which is now my main machine with only games/steam being the only reason now to boot to 8.

I will look at the promised improvements due later this year but for me to make 8 my main machine again there will have to be an awful lot of improving.

Signing off for now,
One dissolutioned MS customer.
User Rank: Apprentice
5/22/2013 | 3:57:08 PM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
I just bought and installed StarDock's ModernMix, which lets you run Modern apps in a window. Simplistic full screen apps on a 30 inch monitor are horrible, but I thought maybe they'd be more palatable if they could run in smaller windows. I was wrong. I haven't found a single Modern app that's anything but a tragically simplistic, utterly useless version of some other real program. They're just terrible, and the fact that Microsoft truly thinks they should take over an entire monitor is astounding.

That said, I do like Windows 8 otherwise, but it's astonishing that the Start screen and the handful of Modern apps was all Microsoft could create in the 3 year development time of Windows 8. Really sad.
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