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Windows 8 – an unmitigated Microsoft disaster

As our recent research has highlighted, Windows 8 is still proving very unpopular with the enthusiast audience. Our last poll for instance showed a 82% result in favour of Windows 7.

The Kitguru audience however are generally more experienced, knowledgeable people, well above the average punter walking into PCworld in the mainstreet. So it is interesting to see if our own polls reflect the adoption figures globally. The tale isn’t a good one for Microsoft.

When Microsoft release a new operating system, the side effect has always been a positive driving of PC sales. While the Kitguru audience will just install the new operating system, the average punter will sell his computer and get a completely new system online or from a local retailer. This did not happen after the release of Windows 8, in fact it was the reverse – many companies recorded a drop in sales during Q4 2012.

So what are the problems for Windows 8?

We discussed before that Microsoft really should have used a processor detection system on first install. If the install code recognised a desktop Core i7 3570k for instance and the lack of touch screen, it could boot immediately into the desktop, rather than present the user with the Metro interface. The lack of built in Start Menu has also caused usability issues for the punter, much in the way Office did when Microsoft decided to move basic features into new locations. Should a company servicing such a huge audience force such a dramatic interface change onto the user base, even when feedback proved negative?

Experienced Kitguru readers will find these problems easy to resolve – there are many freely available ‘Windows 8 start menus’ available to resolve the problem after all. But it does make us wonder why Microsoft would want to change the interface so radically when Windows 7 sales figures were so healthy?

We are all for improving the code, speeding up the interface and enhancing the experience but many people do not want to deal with radical interface changes between operating systems in the same family. Losing the Aero interface has also proved an unpleasant pill for many people to swallow. Our Facebook administrator, Carl has received hundreds of emails in 2013 complaining about the operating system and often the debates on the subject get hot and heavy.

We have received many comments from the public about the subject, and a core Kitguru audience would say ‘Progress is the future, deal with it!’ Its a bold statement, but sadly for Microsoft the mass public have a different view.

netapps windows 8 results
April 2013 figures from Net Applications shows Windows 8 crawling to a 3.82 percent adoption rate. This means that Windows 8 is still behind Windows Vista – one of the most poorly received operating systems that Microsoft have ever released. This is now seven months after release.

Equally poor are the tablet adoption figures for Windows 8. Windows 8 devices rated at 0.02 percent and Windows RT devices at 0.00 percent.

It looks like the writing is on the wall for Windows 8, it is unlikely to suddenly gain momentum now, but what is in the future for Microsoft?

The upcoming operating system Windows Blue looks to give the user back the Start Menu system with the Aero interface. Very similar to Windows 7, which has sold very well for Microsoft. This complete 180 degree turnaround shows that Microsoft have had no option but to bow under pressure to public demand. Forcing changes on a user is fine, but when there other very capable alternatives available it can sometimes backfire.

Windows 8 will be marked down in history as a very costly Microsoft mistake.

Kitguru says: Microsoft are a very difficult company to comprehend at times and it would seem that their historical pattern of releasing an unpopular operating system every other release seems to be a pattern they can’t break.

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