The launch of any new version of Windows is always something of a hit and miss affair, as any long-term user of Microsoft’s famous OS will confirm. Unfortunately, Windows 8 is no exception to the rule, although I’m not quite sure it’s earned a place next to Vista and Millennium as yet.
Saying that, Vista at least performed better than W8 at launch, as the graphic shows:
Sales for Windows 8 have been disappointing, to say the least, with Windows PCs selling 13% less than usual between October and December last year, the optimum PC buying time of year. So why is the new OS failing quite so spectacularly?
Well, hardware is one problem. Microsoft were uber-fussy about the specifications of the hardware that W8 machines had to be built with, and this has led many manufacturers not to bother, as they don’t want to be saddled with expensive parts that they can’t get rid of.
Building a touchscreen for the modern user
Microsoft of course hasn’t just relied on manufacturers and vendors to sell W8 for it, it’s also built its own touchscreen computer to go with it, Surface. This tablet comes in two flavours, the RT, ARM-based Surface and the Surface Pro.
The problem is that many reviewers report that the interface isn’t easy to use, has very little in the way of built-in tutorials and is far from intuitive. This has been apparent even from very experienced PC users, with one citing the OS as ‘confusing’ as there are several different ways to carry out the same task.
Ease of use has always been one of the strengths of Windows PCs, that’s why they are the popular consumer choice, so it would seem that Microsoft has really shot itself in the foot with W8 if your average man in the street can’t use it.
Another problem has been the popularity of the iPad. Why have a touchscreen PC, when you can own a tablet? Why buy Surface when you can have iOS or Android with their rich and varied app stores?
This brings us to another major issue that’s holding back Windows 8 – apps. Microsoft are struggling to attract developers and so has recently offered a $100 bonus for each approved app to be published.
That’s all very well, the money can be a real bonus for devs, especially since they’re allowed to submit up to 10. However, devs have a comfortable enough home on the Android and iOS platforms, so do they really feel the need to develop apps for Microsoft too?
Only time will tell on that one, but rumour has it that W8 isn’t the easiest development platform.
What can Microsoft do?
Well, they have been down the route of a major advertising campaign, which was all over our screens in the run up to Christmas. It didn’t seem to do much good though.
So I suppose the only other thing Microsoft can do for the moment is hope that developers are attracted to apps and continue to work out hardware compatibility issues. This suggests that there isn’t going to be any resounding overnight success any time soon, but over time, it may begin to pick up and become as popular as XP.
David is the SEO whizz at My Social Agency and has spent many years in the business, previously working with well-known brands in UK retail and entertainment. A family man, David is also a self-taught developer and has a genuine and driving passion for his work.