Windows 8: does its 1-month report card read pass or fail?

The operating system is just a hair over one month old, so now is the perfect time to take stock of the software's public reception.

Page 2 of 3

The dual desktop and modern UI in particular create cognitive problems for everyday users, Nielsen says. In his opinion, Microsoft made a big mistake in attempting to create a single operating for desktops and tablets alike, as the two have very different uses and form factors.

"Windows 8 on mobile devices and tablets is akin to Dr. Jekyll: a tortured soul hoping for redemption," he wrote. "On a regular PC, Windows 8 is Mr. Hyde: a monster that terrorizes poor office workers and strangles their productivity." Ouch. We also found the Windows 8 UI a bit non-intuitive, though navigating the operating system quickly becomes second nature, especially if you only use Windows 8 as a touch-only OS. It's just different. (Really different.)

Nonetheless, our one-month report card must focus on widespread public reception, and, without a doubt, pre-launch gripes about Windows 8 have only gotten louder since the system's actual release. The new U.I. receives a failing grade (mostly for its muddled desktop implementation) though that could change as more and more people learn to live with Windows 8, and all its clumsy behaviors become the new normal

Sales: the unknown factor

Why didn't we start off with hard sales numbers? Simple: Microsoft hasn't been forthcoming with hard sales numbers, and the company declined to comment for this article. That institutional reticence makes it hard to divine just how well Windows 8 is actually selling on the streets.

All that said, sporadic leaks, whispers, and data from third-party channels help us paint a partial picture of Windows 8's sales successand what we've gleaned suggests the OS is stumbling out of the gate.

The company's one on-the-record comment came during the developer-focused BUILD conference, which kicked off on October 30, just four days after the official launch of Windows 8. There, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the company sold four million upgrade licenses over opening weekend, along with "tens of millions of units to our corporate customers who can upgrade when they want to."

Since then, silence.

Four million system sales in three days is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but auxiliary evidence suggests that the blistering pace set by early enthusiasts soon tapered off. Data from the Web measurement firm Net Applications showed that at the end of October, only 0.45 percent of computers were running Windows 8. Windows 7's hit a 2.33 percent adoption during the same time frame in its life cyclea five-fold-plus difference. On the plus side, Windows 8's 0.45 percent slice of the pie more than doubles the measly 0.19 percent stake Windows Vista managed to snag during its opening month.

Merle McIntosh, SVP of product development for Newegga popular electronics e-tailer with billions in annual salesrecently told ReadWrite that Windows 8 software sales have been "slow going," paired with "slow but steady increases" in hardware sales. "(Windows 8) did not explode, as I think you know, coming out of the gate," McIntosh said. He went on to say that Windows 8's launch "doesn't even come close" to Windows 7's numbers.

Consumer confusion over the differences between Windows 8 and the more feature-limited Windows RT have been a slight issue, but not nearly as big of a concern as some analysts predicted it would be. "The Microsoft stores are doing the best job of positioning the two products and have the lowest return rates as a result," Enderle says. "Other stores have been mixed. Those that didnt invest in training are having the biggest problems with returns."

So what's it going to be, a pass or a fail in terms of sales? Again, we don't have enough data to make a decisive call. But you can look at it this way: Considering how many tech pundits and long-time Windows users openly mock Windows 8, beating the early adoption numbers of Windows Vista is actually a winbittersweet and poignant, but still something that passes as a measure of success.

Enterprise adoption: What enterprise adoption?

Things don't look much brighter on the business side of the sales story, despite the big numbers Ballmer bounced around at BUILD.

"Windows 8 is seeing roughly half of the interest from IT hardware decision-makers that Windows 7 saw at the same point in its release cycle," Forrester's David Johnson reports. The numbers get even scarier for Microsoft once you dig into the details. Only 4 percent of the companies Forrester surveyed plan to switch to Windows 8 in the next year, with another 5 percent planning to migrate sometime after that. An even larger total10 percentreplied that they plan to skip Windows 8 entirely.

A torrent of other reports echo Forrester's sentiment. It's safe to say that one month in, Windows 8 is a complete non-starter in the enterprise realm. That was expected, however, considering that many businesses only recently upgraded to Windows 7, and many more are hesitant to take on the training hurdles associated with Windows 8's modern UI.

Grade: Fail.

Don't panic!

Of course, while Microsoft no doubt hoped Windows 8 would be immediately embraced by a loving public, we can't judge the success of an operating system by its first month on the market. Grizzled Windows veterans often refuse to buy in to a new version before the first service pack is released, and Enderle notes that Windows 8 is still an early release experiencing "typical initial teething issues."

| 1 2 3 Page 2
ITWorld DealPost: The best in tech deals and discounts.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon