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4/1/2013
03:16 PM
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Windows 8 Momentum Sputters

Windows 8 keeps gaining users but its growth is losing steam. With Windows Blue and new hardware still months off, Microsoft's newest OS isn't likely to rebound right away.

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Microsoft Surface Pro: Is It Right For You?
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Windows 8 adoption continued to rise in March, according to the latest findings released by Internet market share consultant Net Applications. Nonetheless, Windows 8's momentum has sputtered since its unexceptional debut.

No clear catalysts for growth are looming this month, so modest gains could continue for the immediate future. Microsoft is readying Windows Blue, its first major Windows 8 upgrade, however, and also has launched new campaigns to attract app developers. The company hopes these efforts and an upcoming wave of new tablets and PCs will revitalize interest throughout the summer and fall.

Windows 8 amassed a 3.17% market share in March, up from 2.67% in February, said Net Applications. Although the uptick represents progress, Windows 8's gains still trail what Windows 7 had achieved by the same time. What's more, Microsoft's touch-oriented OS has been slowing down. After launching at the end of October, Windows 8 adoption increased 57.8% between November and December, before dropping to 31.4% between December and January and 18.1% between January and February. March's growth rate of 18.7% will likely do little to silence the OS's critics but it at least stemmed what had been precipitous month-over-month declines in momentum.

The Net Applications stats generally agree with those published by StatCounter, another service that tracks OS popularity. StatCounter paints a slightly rosier picture for Windows 8, asserting that the new OS has snared 3.9% of the OS field, a 23.4% improvement relative to February. However, StatCounter also says Windows 8's adoption rate is dwindling and that the OS's most recent uptick was its smallest yet.

[ InformationWeek reporter Kevin Casey is not impressed by Windows Blue. Read Tell Me Again: Why Rush Into Windows 8? ]

Net Applications draws its figures from 40,000 websites and 160,000 unique visitors. StatCounter, in contrast, analyzes around 15 billion page views but does not consider the number of individual users.

Regardless of accounting differences, Windows 8's growth so far does not seem to have benefited much from the declining appeal of aging alternatives. Indeed, Windows 7 doesn't seem to be losing ground to its newest singling. It has topped the Net Application rankings since August, when it surpassed Windows XP. Although Windows 7's market share dipped to 44.48% in January after crossing 45% for the first time in December, it has since rebounded to a 44.73% share. It has actually expanded its grasp, albeit marginally, since Windows 8 went on sale.

Windows XP, meanwhile, dropped from 39.82% in November to 38.73% in March, suggesting Windows 8 might be gaining at XP's expense. Some Windows Vista users have also evidently switched OSes in recent months -- the unpopular Vista contracted from 5.7% of the market in November to just under 5% in March. Mac OS 10.8, the newest version of Apple's platform, controlled a relatively small 2.65% of the field in March. Even so, it also has gained users since Windows 8 launched.

In many ways, Windows 8's continued struggles are not surprising. Enterprises are still heavily invested in Windows 7, making it unlikely that cash-strapped IT departments would push for Microsoft's newest wares. Although Windows 8's mobile-friendly interface might justify some business uses, the OS is most useful when coupled with new hardware, making its immediate adoption among businesses all the more cost-prohibitive.

To an extent, soft enterprise sales were foreseeable, even before Windows 8 launched. The platform's struggles among consumers have been a bit more surprising. Given that discounted Windows 8 licenses are no longer available and that the first round of touch-oriented ultrabooks and Surface products failed to inspire consumer enthusiasm, Microsoft hopes to re-energize its new OS in coming months with Windows Blue, an alleged push for more cheap 7-inch tablets, a more competitive app catalogue, and ultrabooks powered by Intel's upcoming Haswell chips, which are expected to deliver tablet-like battery life without skimping on processing power. These developments should restore some of Windows 8's lost momentum -- but the question remains: by how much?

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Palpatine
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Palpatine,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/2/2013 | 2:47:16 PM
re: Windows 8 Momentum Sputters
8 is slightly faster than 7. It is allegedly more secure than 7. It has a slightly smaller footprint than 6x/7x generation (still I double dare you to run it on a 64MB machine where XP or 2K can run 99% of Win32 software...).
Its pros are tiny (too tiny for keeping the breath for 3 years worth of development of thousands of the finest developers on the world), its cons are HUGE - Metro, liberticide Store, OEM backstabber Surface - that disproportion is the problem of 8.
Palpatine
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Palpatine,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/2/2013 | 2:42:34 PM
re: Windows 8 Momentum Sputters
Wow!
The "pc is dead" fad was being debunked as tablet failed to put a serious halt to PC sales even during the big '10s crisis, and one year later MS come out with a tablet centric os yelling "pc is dead!", self fulfilling the prophecy and doing to its competitor the biggest possible favor.
Now the 6-7-8" pablets wave has quickly saturated its potential market and sales are already slowing, and MS yells out 7" market is the future and its next gen will join that wave!
Brace yourselves, in next years smart- glasses and clock will be the new wave of wearable computing, and one or two years after the market is saturated and the fad is gone MS will come out and bet the company in whatever was cool the previous year!
Terabyte Net
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Terabyte Net,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/2/2013 | 11:09:02 AM
re: Windows 8 Momentum Sputters
The thing that no reporter or Win8 detractor seems to report about Windows 8 is it is HIGHLY adaptable to customization. Windows 8 is faster than 7. More secure than 7. Smaller foot print than previous Windows versions. Has an UGLY and unusable GUI. That all being said, I'll take the speed and security with Class Shell, a free, open source, shell add-on that returns the Start menu to Windows 8 among other things making adoptions held up by Metro moot. For our customers on Win8, Classic Shell has made it a great OS. If reporters got the word out that Microsoft's colossal mistake in Metro is easily remedied perhaps MS would listen and fix it themselves, I doubt it, they left the stupid Ribbon Bar despite complaints, but maybe.

I personally despise Metro, but that shouldn't stop people from looking at 8 for its overall advantages. Let's have a head-to-head comparison of Win8 with Classic Shell to Win7 with the Start menu and see who they work against each other in the real world.

Just FYI, I have no stake in Classic Shell other than it's a tool that solves a problem. We all uses tools to solve IT needs. If we didn't we'd all type documents in Notepad and use telnet to send e-mail.
Genghis
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Genghis,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/2/2013 | 1:02:23 AM
re: Windows 8 Momentum Sputters
Apps developers are already developing new versions for Win 8. Apps developers have to adapt to new SDKs. For developers the MS ecosystem still provides the most homogeneous audience and economies of scale for marketing. Desktop users won't be able to "stay put" as their apps migrate to the new UI. New versions of MS Office are on the way. OneNote for Win 8 is a useful portent for the future. Once everything has moved, you'll wonder why you hung on for so long.
AsokAsus
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AsokAsus,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/1/2013 | 10:45:38 PM
re: Windows 8 Momentum Sputters
Unfortunately for Microsoft, Blue is very unlikely to help its rapidly failing Windows 8/Windows RT/Metro UI/apps store ecosystem.

Microsoft has never really innovated and simply reacted to others who have innovated and developed new markets; after seeing each wave of the future, Microsoft catches the back of the wave with hurriedly slapped-together, half-baked, me-too products and then used their monopoly power to muscle everyone else out of the way and take over, and then comes back with a big service pack to patch up the mess of the initial release.

That used to work back when there was no competition, no social media, and the world moved slower. But not anymore. The word now gets out and it gets out quickly, and product cycles are so fast people still remember the last crappy Microsoft product (e.g. Vista) they got burned with. Microsoft now only gets one chance to get it right, because first impressions of a product are now final impressions. No one gets a second chance anymore, especially Microsoft. And finally, each time Microsoft attempts to catch the back of a wave, another wave has already come along that they missed. Microsoft is now going to have to innovate or die, especially now that they they've abandoned the one and only market they had a lock on. And when I say "innovate", I mean developing brilliant products that people suddenly discover they just simply have to have, and which no other company makes. An that's simply not going to happen at Microsoft, so the only chance left to save Microsoft is for the board to fire the Ballmer Bozos and hire a new crew that refocuses the company on the enterprise and SMB.

No, like Louie might have said, the blue patch verse will be the same as the first, only with extra failure built in.
Andrew Binstock
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Andrew Binstock,
User Rank: Author
4/1/2013 | 9:36:16 PM
re: Windows 8 Momentum Sputters
I tend to agree. In my anecdotal experience, the Win 7 users are staying put. What they'll eventually migrate to is hard to tell, but as you suggest, it won't be Win 8. Either it'll be a later version of Windows or a non-Windows OS.
Johnnythegeek
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Johnnythegeek,
User Rank: Strategist
4/1/2013 | 8:44:12 PM
re: Windows 8 Momentum Sputters
The real problems for Microsoft is not so much Windows 8 which is a problem. But what happens to the millions of Windows 7 users when they finally must move beyond Windows 7?
Will they finally adopt the "new" OS user interface that first showed up in Windows 8. Or will they move on to something else that is not a Microsoft OS? I personally do not see Windows Blue solving the problems of Windows 8 as Windows 7 did with Vista. Its not going to happen.
Fill
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Fill,
User Rank: Strategist
4/1/2013 | 8:35:07 PM
re: Windows 8 Momentum Sputters
The big difference between Vista and Windows 8, in terms of market uptake, is that Vista had some hope of being superseded by a good OS (Windows 7 specifically). We have a lot less chance that MS will eat crow and abandon the direction they've taken with Windows 8, particularly after seeing the leak of Windows Blue. Microsoft is driving their customers away and are too stubborn/thickheaded to admit their mistake and get back on track.
joelhunn
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joelhunn,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/1/2013 | 8:18:00 PM
re: Windows 8 Momentum Sputters
Windows 8 is a soup sandwich the will never make.
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