Of 50,000 Internet users polled by ForumWindows8.com, 53% named Windows 7 as their favorite Microsoft OS. Windows 8, which has been available in trial form for the past couple of months, was picked by just 25%. Twenty percent chose Windows XP.
"Although Windows 8 Beta has been released with great expectations, unfortunately, it seems that users are not as enthusiastic about Windows 8 as Microsoft had hoped," said ForumWindows8, which bills itself as an online help community for Windows users.
One Windows 8 feature that might be detracting from its popularity is the user interface, originally known as Metro but renamed "Modern UI" after Microsoft received a trademark complaint from an unnamed party. (Speculation is that it was German wholesale giant Metro AG.)
Metro replaces the familiar Explorer desktop with Windows Phone-style Live Tiles, which are on-screen blocks that serve up real-time notifications from e-mail, social networks, messaging, and other services. Only 21% of users polled by ForumWindows8 identified the interface as their favorite Windows 8 feature.
Users running Windows 8 Pro or Windows 8 Enterprise will be able to jump to Windows Explorer after first booting to Modern UI, but Windows RT users will not have that option.
Price might also be an issue. A plurality of poll takers (35%) listed it as their top concern about Windows 8. Microsoft has announced promotional upgrade pricing of $39, from Win8's Oct. 26 release date through January 2013, but the price will go up after that. The company has not specified non-promotional pricing, but numerous reports indicate it will be in the $200 range. "Users believe that this price is too high," said ForumWindows8.
Twenty-six percent picked system requirements as their top concern, even though Microsoft has said that most PCs that can run Windows XP should be capable of running Windows 8.
Twenty-five percent cited compatibility as their biggest worry. Windows 8 PCs and tablets that use Intel or AMD chips will be able to run apps written for older versions of Windows, but Windows RT tablets, which run on ARM chips, will not.
What did users like about Windows 8? A majority (56%) cited fast boot and shut down. Unlike some plodding predecessors, Windows 8 systems are designed to start in seven seconds or less.
One high-profile computer user who is impressed with Windows 8 is, not surprisingly, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. He called the OS "very exciting" in a brief interview with the AP this week.
ForumWindows8's data is somewhat consistent with a recent InformationWeek survey, in which 64% of respondents said that their future OS strategy involves "hanging on to Windows 7 as long as possible." Twenty percent said they will stick with Windows XP, which Microsoft intends to discontinue support for in 2014, as long as they can.
Upgrading isn't the easy decision that Win 7 was. We take a close look at Server 2012, changes to mobility and security, and more in the new Here Comes Windows 8 issue of InformationWeek. Also in this issue: Why you should have the difficult conversations about the value of OS and PC upgrades before discussing Windows 8. (Free registration required.)