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Microsoft Windows Technology

Windows 8 Sales Below Projections 663

Posted by samzenpus
from the cold-cakes dept.
harrymcc writes "With early reports on Windows 8 sales indicating that the new operating system is off to a slow start, it's worth pondering what Microsoft could have done differently. Over at TIME.com, I considered several different scenarios, ranging from one in which it released a much more conventional Windows upgrade to one which would have been much like like the Windows 8 we got — except with the ability to boot directly into the desktop, complete with Start button."
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Windows 8 Sales Below Projections

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  • by Dan667 (564390) on Monday November 19, 2012 @03:23PM (#42030197)
    that is pretty telling of what they should have done differently.
  • It wasn't time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Monday November 19, 2012 @03:25PM (#42030211)
    We didn't need another OS. Windows 7 was still alive and well, by releasing Windows 8 they only confused / distracted the current user base. I can't even count how many people have asked me what is special about Windows 8, besides the horrible new desktop I honestly can't really saying anything. No one is ready to upgrade from 7 to 8, if they waited another year or two then the outcome would be different, they haven't given people the chance to want something new.
  • Ballmer's Law (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RearNakedChoke (1102093) on Monday November 19, 2012 @03:30PM (#42030273)
    Windows, every other iteration. XP good, Vista bad, 7 good, 8 bad. 9 ??? They have a special knack for stumbling on something good and then massively screwing it up the next go around.
  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Monday November 19, 2012 @03:30PM (#42030281)
    I don't have much of a reason to switch to Windows 8. I understand there are a few performance benefits and a couple of nifty tie-ins, maybe an app or two, and the new Start screen which isn't *that* bad. But Windows 7 is working just fine. Why upgrade?
  • Happens every time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Monday November 19, 2012 @03:31PM (#42030291)

    Why do we have these same news reports every time MS releases a new operating system?

    The truth is that Windows 7 (and even Windows XP) is more than sufficient for most users. For that matter, a ChromeBook is sufficient for "most" users that really need only a web browser. I work in IT during the day and do some software development so I use a computer and applications heavily at work, but when I'm home, a Chromebook would do pretty much anything I need a computer for. I'm not into gaming and haven't purchased software for my home laptop in years - I've bought a lot more apps for my phone than for my laptop. Even if I were interested in gaming, I'd probably use a game console so I could play on my TV.

    Additionally, most users don't ever want to upgrade their operating system - they'll wait until they buy a new computer since that's generally necessary to take full advantage of the new OS anyway.

    As long as MS maintains its OEM channel, then Win8 will be a slow steady success. Though they really need Win8 RT to be successful since the PC buying trend seems to be shifting to tablets.

  • Too much "meh" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by evil_aaronm (671521) on Monday November 19, 2012 @03:31PM (#42030295)
    Seriously: what new "gotta have" features justifies the hassle and cost of going from Win7 to Win8? Any "quantum leaps" in Win8, or just more minor tweaks?
  • Re:Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kenja (541830) on Monday November 19, 2012 @03:36PM (#42030363)
    As a developer, I feel the job of the OS is to launch applications and then get out of the way. This is something Windows 8 fails at.
  • by Ziggitz (2637281) on Monday November 19, 2012 @03:41PM (#42030435)

    There is a major difference between upgrading from windows 7 to 8 ass there was from xp to vista or xp to windows 7. XP came about before things like wireless G was ubiquitous. It didn't handle a lot of web frameworks very well and it was frequently populated with applications that look far shinier than it did. Combine that with the large time gap between OSes, most people were running XP on laptops with external pci wireless cards or no wireless at all and they were seeing friends, family, and coworkers with sleeker, faster, easier to use laptops that just worked with any wireless network they were in range of and actually like similar in quality aesthetically with all of the applications people were running on it.

    Nobody has a problem with their current version of windows 7 where they're thinking "If only I had a new windows 8 laptop this would be so much faster/easier/less frustrating etc". In fact, the processing power required to complete most tasks your average lay windows user does has pretty much stagnated over the past five years. Screen resolutions are virtually unchanged for most; Web browsing, email and productivity apps are pretty much at a stand still processing wise. The biggest changes in leaps and bounds have been internet bandwidth and the ability for network cards to process internet bandwidth has never been a bottleneck. This is why tablets are starting to takeover for lay computer users, because the stagnation in processor requirements have allowed smaller form factor hardware to catch up.

    All in all, for most user upgrading doesn't mean a shiny new toy, it means work learning a new interface. Combine that with cost and the fact that it offers no solutions to problems or limitations they are currently having with windows 7 means nobody really wants it.

  • by spire3661 (1038968) on Monday November 19, 2012 @03:42PM (#42030449) Journal
    Dont you get that the entire purpose of Metro is to force advertising into those tiles...
  • Re:Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday November 19, 2012 @03:43PM (#42030461) Homepage

    I like the idea, except that it's not just developers and gamers who would prefer the start menu. They should have kept Metro as an optional install for tablets and touchscreen-enabled desktops. It's not about whether you want your RAM used up for pretty sliding menus, it's about whether those pretty sliding menus are an appropriate design for the way the computer is being used.

    Metro is inappropriate for a desktop computer. If you get rid of Metro, than Windows 8 is a nice little upgrade to Windows 7.

  • Re:It wasn't time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nemyst (1383049) on Monday November 19, 2012 @03:44PM (#42030479) Homepage

    Stardock would release a new update in no time. They're not exactly new to this kind of stuff, what with WindowBlinds and other such products.

  • Re:Idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JDG1980 (2438906) on Monday November 19, 2012 @03:45PM (#42030485)

    My impression is that developers are one of the target audiences for 'Metro'. After all, who else will produce the apps to go in the Microsoft Store, and ensure that the future is made of starkly colored squares? Letting them off the hook would just make it easier to keep shipping completely normal looking software that is Win7 compatible. Then were will progress be?

    Well, no doubt that's what MS wants, but as the sales figures and negative reviews from power users indicate, it's not working. So what will happen is that most developers and power users will stay on Win7, and developers will keep writing their software for the traditional Windows API.

  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Monday November 19, 2012 @03:45PM (#42030495) Journal

    ... when even Windows-fan-boi site Neowin.net, the anti slashdot [neowin.net] talks about how WIndows 8 is failing and what went wrong afterwards.

    Basically, Sinofsky made the decision to drop the start button in a meeting with Balmer saying it was a must if users were to get used to Metro. They must get immersed so Windows 8 phones can sell more etc.

    Here is a little business 101 lesson. Your customers decide which UI you use and how you design your product. Not the other way around! Every company that told customers this is what you will do and how you will like it do poorly or go under. No one listens to them and MBAs feel it is their job to convert customers and tell them what to do.

    They feel to acknowledge the customer can just walk out the door and take his or her business elsewhere.

    So they fired Sinsosky and that is a good thing. Sad, as he did a great job for Windows 7 but they did not do any QA or UI usability testing with METRO. Just get it out FAST!! and it was was rushed. Customers hate change and Windows 7 works just fine thank you very much.

    After numbers come it the problem will only get worse. Lets hope they do not something really stupid like get rid of the desktop entirely and just be a tablet company now. They lost focus on their core strengths which is another business 101 lesson you never do. They are not a consumer gadget entertainment company and they killed their number one product and money to get there. Wow! Balmer should be fired next too

  • Re:Idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Monday November 19, 2012 @03:48PM (#42030539)

    But they have to push users into Metro if they're going to get developers to build the Metro apps they need to become a competitive phone and tablet supplier.

    This is why they'll fight tooth and nail to not give back the Start menu. It's all about the Metro apps.

  • by thomasw_lrd (1203850) on Monday November 19, 2012 @03:58PM (#42030657)

    Apparently Jacob Nielson is an idiot. My windows8 has three windows open right now. I'm not a shill, but Windows 8 is just windows 7 with live tiles added.

  • Re:It wasn't time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by localman57 (1340533) on Monday November 19, 2012 @04:01PM (#42030725)

    We didn't need another OS. Windows 7 was still alive and well

    Microsoft knows this. In fact, I think they're counting on it.

    what is special about Windows 8, .

    What's special is that they're trying to unify (to the degree possible) their product across phones, tablets, and the PC.

    I think Microsoft learned an interesting lesson from the XP/Vista/7 cycle. Vista was fucked up, in a big big way. Did it cost them sales? Some, mostly from people who would have upgraded their software. But this is a small piece of the pie. Most OS sales are pre-installs. And, even with vista out, Microsoft kept selling XP licenses (later via downgrade rights).

    MS can't come out and say it, but I really don't think they give a shit if enthusiasts upgrade or not. Same with the enterprise market. You don't see Balmer out there throwing chairs, yelling "PLEASE! PLEASE DON"T BUY OUR WINDOWS 7 LICENSES!" As long as you're buying something of theirs, he's a happy chimp.

    They're pushing 8 out to people via new PC sales, primarily in the consumer market. But what they really needed, and delivered, was something that works decently from a UI perspective on a phone, and on a tablet. That's what's driving this. And eventually the PC will follow. Or, people will keep buying Windows 7 licenses for the next five years. MS gets paid either way.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2012 @04:03PM (#42030739)

    If it's supposed to be intuitive and a guy other people consider a usability expert couldn't work it out, that's telling.

    It's not just Win7 with live tiles added. There's a bunch of useful stuff removed.

  • Re:It wasn't time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Mattern (191822) on Monday November 19, 2012 @04:07PM (#42030787)

    Jeez, did have a contest to find the worst UI concepts possible? An app's functionality belongs in the app, not off in some "charm" somewhere (which charm is it in? Scavenger hunt time!)

  • Re:GOOD!!!! :) (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Monday November 19, 2012 @04:08PM (#42030791) Homepage

    Whose 'projections' were they, exactly? Not anybody outside Redmond's board of directors...

  • Re:It wasn't time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Mattern (191822) on Monday November 19, 2012 @04:10PM (#42030823)

    What's special is that they're trying to unify (to the degree possible) their product across phones, tablets, and the PC.

    I get that. The problem is that they're trying to unify these things *beyond* the degree possible, or at least practical.

  • Re:It wasn't time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday November 19, 2012 @04:12PM (#42030841)

    So 'charms' are menu heading or toolbar buttons, just less useable and obvious.

  • Upgrade cycle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Monday November 19, 2012 @04:13PM (#42030851) Homepage Journal
    Most of us don't want an aggressive upgrade cycle. We want an OS that works, and then minor upgrades. MS, OTOH, needs to push product, justify the existence of the MSCE army, and the training costs associated with it.

    Windows started as reaction to Mac OS. As such it was crap until Windows 3.11 workgroups in the early 90's. We dealt with Windows, but it was a kludge.

    There was a lot of happiness with 3.11, and much happiness with WIndows 95. It was 32 bit and was really the first modern OS that MS had.

    But then Windows 98 killed the streak MS was having, along with using IE to integrate the various products instead of creating a consistent undercarriage. NT was a mish mash at first, but by the time WIndows 98 came out it was a superior product, which meant MS was in the current situation of pushing inferior OS to users that perfectly happy with, for them, the superior NT. That was me.

    Windows 2000 and XP, the sucessor of NT, finally made the Windows platform whole again, but then MS started getting into the infinite SKU look within a product, and really messed us up again. But really for a long time XP was it.

    But Apple was getting aggressive again, and MS got jittery and made Vista, which no one would leave XP for. I finally upgraded from XP to Windows 7, which I must admit was a adult and rational product. It runs nice.

    So here we are again, with Windows 8. Evidently a innovative product, but for me, someone who uses Windows only to do certain technical work, am I going to care enough to upgrade, especially since I have to pay full price since I run as virtual. Absolutely not. In fact, I recently bought some PCs for some other people and was consistently told that sales were up as people desperately wanted W7 machines.

    It is the upgrade cycle. We get used to working in an OS, then MS every couple years expects us to change our habits to satisfy their needs for sales. It did not happen in the 90's and it s not going to happen now. When MS just develops good software, they are fantastic company. But when they are trying be overly creative or reacting to Apple, they produce crap.

  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Monday November 19, 2012 @04:14PM (#42030871)

    Normally, when a business offers a 'new and improved' product as an 'upgrade,' the product has been improved sufficiently to make the consumer want to purchase it. However, in the case of Windows 8, the changes are all to help Microsoft supposedly improve its competitive position by moving a more powerful Windows to mobile devices. The main reason that Microsoft gives their customers to purchase "Windows 8" as an upgrade is: 'We will not support you if you don't buy it.' For people purchasing a new computer, there's no real choice as those computers will come with Windows 8 and so that's likely to be most of their sales to date. And then, of course, Microsoft also offers "Windows 8" for buyers of mobile devices...a completely different market segment. For those buyers, the main Microsoft sales pitch is 'buy a new device with Win 8 and it will run your old Windows apps such as Office' and give you a powerful Windows desktop on your mobile device.' In that situation, Microsoft is answering a question that no one is asking. All of Microsoft's problems come from one simple thing. Microsoft has not put themselves in their customer's shoes and asked 'what do our customer's want and how can we make our customer's lives better with our products?' Unfortunately for Microsoft, unless you have a monopoly or a state-owned economy, that is the driver for all business.

  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Monday November 19, 2012 @04:16PM (#42030887) Journal

    Or Windows 7 and even XP work fine. Why change what is not broken? If their circa 2005 laptop still works with XP why waste money in this economic uncertainity when the fiscal cliff could hit, Greece could default, and your health premiums are up to $600 a month!!

    10 years ago when people paid $80 a month for health insurance and wages were rising and you could get rich just investing stocks and flipping homes then perhaps people would give a shit about their computers more. Now it is a burden and an expense with other pressing issues. SO who cares?

    Windows 8 is a terrible OS. If I were to buy a new system I would go out of my way to get one with Windows 7 like I did back in 2007 that was XP compatible so if I didn't like Vista I could dualboot to XP.

  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Monday November 19, 2012 @04:16PM (#42030893)

    Vista ultimately gained about 24% of the OS market before Windows 7 was released.

    For the OS that was supposed to replace XP. For an OS that was sold pre-installed on most computers for years. Yes, in those circumstances, 24% is not just a failure, it is a *dismal* failure.

  • Yeah, only MS... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ecuador (740021) on Monday November 19, 2012 @04:21PM (#42030937) Homepage

    Only Microsoft calls removing features an upgrade... no, wait, Sony has done that, too.

    Yeah, right. Apple does that more often.
    Going from Lion to Mountain Lion made my 3-monitor system almost unusable (due to the particular needs of my setup, which worked fine with Snow Leopard and Lion). I had to buy an app (TotalSpaces) that restores functionality removed by the Mountain Lion "update".
    In fact, when I heard what MS was doing with Windows 8, my first response was "Those idiots think they are Apple?". Apple can pull crap like that off because people will just buy the "latest Apple". For Microsoft the best case is for people to buy something new if it can do more (otherwise they will sit with their trusted Win XP, Office 2k3 etc).

  • by GaratNW (978516) on Monday November 19, 2012 @04:34PM (#42031105)
    This is exactly the problem. Windows 7 is great as a stand alone experience. Metro is great as a stand alone touch experience. Microsoft is determined to force the convergence of them, despite no evidence that this particular venn diagram has any crossover: live tiles may be great for pure consumption (sometimes), it really kinda sucks for multi window productivity. Maybe 30 years from now we'll all work in such a radically different way that the live tiles will seem way ahead of their time, but right now, they're trying to ram a VW beetle sized peg into a square hole.
  • Re:It wasn't time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday November 19, 2012 @04:40PM (#42031157) Homepage
    A few months ago I really really tried switching to Linux, and in the end I went back to Windows 7 (now at Windows 8). Tried about 10 different distros, and none of them really provided what I needed. I did learn some fun stuff along the way though. Getting WiFi working in Slackware 14 was quite an adventure. Most distros did a really terrible job at making it easy to configure WiFi. There were other issues such as I was never able to get my video card drivers working properly. half the games I bought from Humble Bundle didn't work, possibly due to video card drivers, but others failed with seg faults. Compared to Windows, Linux was completely terrible. Perhaps if you have just the right hardware configuration it will work for you. It works great for me under VMWare, which is why I decided to try and switch in the first place.
  • by citylivin (1250770) on Monday November 19, 2012 @04:54PM (#42031325)

    " People need to move forward, otherwise keep using Windows 7."

    Why?

    Why do I need to move "forward"? Is this OS "forward" because its new? What if "new" is really several steps backward in usability, or compatibility? (for instance, advertising built in)

    Basically, what makes newer = forward. Intrinsically, nothing. Yet people keep saying it. Forward in time, well then you are saying nothing. Yes, Windows 8 is newer than windows 7. Kind of a redundant statement to make.

  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Monday November 19, 2012 @05:05PM (#42031513)
    This OS doesn't solve any problems for me. Windows 3 was better than DOS, then I lept at 95 because it plugged so many holes in 3.1.1, the same with 98 and the 98's to follow. Then I went to 2000 because, as a developer, it was so much better and ME just sucked. 2000 was the first time I didn't have to reboot every 2 hours. But then I stuck with 2000 until just way too many applications wouldn't work. So begrudgingly I switched to XP. Then I switched to Mac. Yet if XP had been tweaked a bit to be properly 64bit I couldn't really see any reason to upgrade beyond that; vista and Windows 7 just didn't call out to me. I am not saying that windows 7 sucked but I wonder if the effort that went into Vista and Windows 7 had gone into making XP better if that would not have been just as good. So I look at my VM of Windows XP and then I read about windows 8 and wonder what killer feature 8 will have that hasn't just be arbitrarily denied to XP. My plan is to keep XP in a VM for web page testing and to soon get 8 into a VM so that I can use whatever useless version of IE it has for more testing.

    The only thing that Windows does to me is cause me to write: if($browser.msie){do stupid code;}

    If Microsoft wants me back then they have to solve some problem that I have. But as a developer they only want me to solve their problems. They want me to use coding tools that will require my customers to buy Office and various server products. In the early days Microsoft put out tools that were directly aimed at me and my problems. Visual Basic allowed me to code stuff for Windows in a flash. Coding for windows was hard using crap products like Borland C++. Then they came out with Visual Studio and poof I could code windows using MFC which simplified the whole process. But then MFC started getting more and more supportive of MS products. Then came .net. Again it was the answer to Java and solve many problems. But then by .net 2.5 it was all about integrating various MS products into my projects.

    If MS wants to win me back they need to buy something like Trolltech's QT and make it so that I can program for Windows/Android/iPhone with equal ease. MS would then get splashed by all the applications that could be ported in a snap.

    MS has completely turned me off when I reinstalled Windows on a laptop using the legitimate Dell supplied DVD and serial. I use the code and bloop "This product is not Genuine." Nice.
  • Re:It wasn't time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lgw (121541) on Monday November 19, 2012 @05:08PM (#42031553) Journal

    Yes, but for a media center PC, you want it to work well with that quite limited input device called a "remote control". There's an every-growing UI niche there that it would have been cool if Win8 had filled.

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Monday November 19, 2012 @05:15PM (#42031669)

    Apparently Jacob Nielson is an idiot. My windows8 has three windows open right now.

    Yes, the desktop works the same way it did before, except that they killed the Start button and force users to go through Metro instead. But users are no longer brought to the desktop upon logging in. Instead they are dumped directly into Metro, which does indeed have the limitations outlined by Jakob Nielsen. And it's not made obvious to new users how to get back to the desktop from there.

    The bottom line is that with Windows 8, Microsoft deliberately sacrificed usability on the desktop for marketing reasons (pushing Metro into people's faces to bring more visibility to their tablet/phone products).

  • Re:It wasn't time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lgw (121541) on Monday November 19, 2012 @05:24PM (#42031773) Journal

    The Charms bar -- hit winkey+C or take the mouse to the top right corner and drag down, or the bottom left corner and drag up or on a touch device swipe in from the right...

    What. The. Fuck. How is anyone supposed to find that shit? I love my Win7, but it has become clear that switching to some modern Linux distro will be easier than than VistaME.

  • Re:It wasn't time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DigiShaman (671371) on Monday November 19, 2012 @05:47PM (#42032071) Homepage

    If you're having to purchase a 3rd party hack to radically alter the UI of a brand-spankin-new OS right out of the box, something is fundamentally wrong with your decision making.

  • Well duh! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2012 @06:23PM (#42032513)

    Which part of "Microsoft Product" did you not understand?

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Monday November 19, 2012 @06:37PM (#42032711)

    From those *thousands* of people on the forums were screaming "Don't take away the start button" and "make the metro interface optional," and hundred of other sensible rational suggestions, we told you so.

    Someone, or some group, deep in the heart of Microsoft chose to ignore them all.

    If they haven't been fired yet, they *should* be fired. Immediately. For incompetence AND being arrogant asses. This crap impacts the lives, businesses and productivity of millions of people. This is not a "House" episode. You get no points for being clever and obnoxious. Hopefully, all you get is shitcanned while some poor set of humbler, and more experienced SOBs go in and try and figure out a way to clean up your blundering mess.

  • by csumpi (2258986) on Monday November 19, 2012 @06:51PM (#42032923)
    Visual Studio - is lightyears (but at least 5 years) ahead of everything else.

    Exchange, SQL Server, etc.. - good luck trying to find alternatives for their enterprise solutions.

    Games - they run and run fast.

    Device drivers - are available for all hardware. My hybrid gfx [archlinux.org] on a 2 year old laptop still has no linux support, so I have to use some hack to turn one of them off.

    Xbox, Kinect - enough said.

    MS is not going anywhere anytime soon. If Steve Jobs would've come up with the active tile home screen, or the unified interface across devices, everyone would've been drooling over it.
  • Re:It wasn't time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bacon Bits (926911) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:00PM (#42033065)

    The only difference between his decision making and the average Linux user changing from Gnome to fluxbox is he paid money for his customization.

    More practically: He paid $39 + $5 to upgrade Vista to Win8 with a start menu app. If it actually improves his productivity, this is what you should do 100% of the time. This is what is known as "a wise investment".

  • by kestasjk (933987) * on Monday November 19, 2012 @08:08PM (#42033989) Homepage

    having to roll back to a restore point a few times (in the past month) everything has been smooth sailing

    Maybe quit hacking the registry and disabling necessary services?

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