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.

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Directions on Microsoft analyst Wes Miller also cautions against reading too much into Windows 8 adoption rates this early in the operating system's lifetime.

"This holiday season is critically important to the success of Windows RT in particular, as well as the lower-end market for Windows 8 tablets," he said via email. "We wont really know until the new year how well those have done in the marketplace."

Along those lines (and despite his less-than-optimistic talk over at ReadWrite), Newegg SVP Merle McIntosh told us via email that "Sales have met our expectations so far. Currently, the majority of our Windows 8 assortment consists of desktops and notebooks so, naturally, those categories are the strongest right now. Tablets are also doing well, and we expect this category to continue to grow."

McIntosh acknowledges that Windows 8 sales are more likely to slowly build steam rather than explode out of the gate. "Windows 8 is a completely new OS, so it will take a bit of time for consumers and businesses to fully embrace it and move away from Windows 7," he says. "Windows 7 was a very successful product, so there will be some consumers who may prefer that OS for the time being."

That single statement may shed the most light on Windows 8's apparently lackluster adoption rates. People couldn't wait to upgrade away from Vista. Everybody loves Windows 7, which offers a damn near ideal desktop experience. Throwing that excellence out the window to focus on tablet functionality hasn't convinced laptop and desktop users that they need to switch to Windows 8 right now and learn a whole new, fairly unintuitive interface.

Windows 8: One month down, many to go

Newegg expects Windows 8 hardware sales to be a major growth factor for the OS as a whole, and therein lies Microsoft's strongest ace in the hole. Even if the operating system struggled a bit during its first month, the overwhelming majority of all laptops and desktops shipped henceforth will ship with Windows 8 installed. No early adopters? No problem. Windows 8 has legs in the long tail, with the IDC estimating 391.1 million PCs to ship in 2013. "Its still very early to be calling out any definitive sales trends," McIntosh told us, and he's right.

Sure, Microsoft made some missteps with the roll-out of Windows 8, but few of the problems are deep-rooted. As adoption rates slowly grow, the apps are sure to comeand Microsoft is courting developers hard to make sure those apps do come. The Windows Store itself needs some usability tweaking, and that tweaking will have to be done under new management. Possible customer confusion issues should clear up as Windows 8 and Windows RT become more widespread, and businesses will be forced to integrate the operating system into their networks when employees start dragging in BYOD Windows 8 laptops and tablets, even if I.T. departments hesitate to roll them out whole-hog.

Windows 8 maymaybe struggling now, but sheer scale means it will be adopted by many more people. Eventually.

Just don't expect the modern UI to disappear anytime soon. Despite the deep-seated hatred that desktop enthusiasts and usability experts toss the interface's way, Microsoft spent a lot of money creating the cross-platform design in a bid to lure tablet shoppers away from Android and Apple alternatives. Remember that PC sales are sluggish and mobile sales are booming. What's a first-time tablet shopper more likely to buy: A tablet with a completely new operating system, or one that looks like and syncs with with the UI on their home computer?

When you look at Windows 8 you're staring at the future of Microsoft, folks. So you might as well get used to it. In the present, however, Windows 8 still has a few kinks left to work out after a month on the market.

This story, "Windows 8: does its 1-month report card read pass or fail?" was originally published by PCWorld.

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