Although the poor sales have drawn comparisons to Windows Vista, just how unsuccessful has Windows 8 been? Has the damage been beyond sales i.e. should be expect a mass movement back to XP/7 like we had with Vista users moving back to XP? I intend to discuss these points and analyse just how much Windows 8 is in some ways the new Vista.
Recent U-Turns by Microsoft on the Windows 8.1 front seem a good starting point for this article. At the recent Build 2014 conference Microsoft announced that Windows 8.1 Update 1 will include changes to the UI, specifically the return of the Start menu. My other article showing how to change Windows 8/8.1 to look like XP/7 and many other articles online show that Microsoft made a massive faux pas by removing the Start menu which has been present since Windows 95.
But is the ‘Metro’ UI and removal of the start menu the only issues with Windows 8/8.1? Although I can see sales potentially picking up following Update 1, I believe the media damage has been done and many users will simply remain with their Windows 7/XP until they buy new computers with Windows 8 pre-installed.
Pre-Installed OS’s are ultimately how the majority of computer users ‘choose’ their OS, i.e. what comes pre-installed is what they get, so surely Windows 8 should be doing well based on PC sales alone right. Actually many OEMs such as Samsung, HP and Acer have publicly blamed Windows 8 on PC sales declining versus a sales increase when Windows 7 was released. Just to give some examples, Acer President Jim Wong “Windows 8 itself is still not successful. The whole market didn't come back to growth after the Windows 8 launch, that’s a simple way to judge if it is successful or not” and Jun Dong-Soo, president of Samsung's memory chip division "The global PC industry is steadily shrinking despite the launch of Windows 8, I think the Windows 8 system is no better than the previous Windows Vista platform."
Furthermore license sales statistics backup the view that Windows 8 is performing similar to Vista, “15 months since Windows 8 went on sale, 384m PCs sold Windows 8 licenses on 52% of those, Vista had 46% of licenses at the 18 month mark, when Windows 7 sold 300m licenses it had 71.8% of PCs”. These figures show clear comparable figures from Vista to Windows 8, although Windows 8 has outsold Vista, it is much smaller then Windows 7 drawing the comparison that on sales alone, Windows 8 is the new Vista.
It is interesting to note that some manufacturers have recently made an effort via marketing to push a return to Windows 7 computers via the “Back by popular demand” campaign, HP has been offering up to $150 off a new computer when Windows 7 is picked over Windows 8. This has been misunderstood on other media outlets as HP starting to sell Windows 7 again, this is not true as HP has continued to sell some 7 based computers the entire time, however this campaign does see a shift in the dedication from OEMs, they are beginning to show their frustration with Microsoft.
One argument used to defend Windows 8, is that PC sales were declining anyway and therefore cannot be blamed on Windows 8. However other OS based computers have seen growth, for example ChromeOS based Chromebooks have seen an increase to 9.6% of PC unit sales, despite being a recent entrant to the market, although this 9.6% is far behind the share of Windows based computers at 34.1%, it does show the market has not crashed. Price may well be a factor with the majority of Chromebooks selling for well under the average price for a Windows based computer. To this effort it may explain why Microsoft is dropping the license fee it charges for Windows 8 by a rumored $45 for low end (cheap) devices to compete with Google. The rumored figures are that OEMs will pay $15 a license to install Windows 8.1 on a device to retail for under $250 versus the usual $50, clearly Microsoft is feeling the pressure from the growing ChromeOS market.
Clearly everything seems to suggest that Windows 8 is indeed appearing to be heading for Vista like failure, a report on various tech websites even suggests that internally Microsoft staff are referring to Windows 8 as the new Vista.
So why should you use Windows 8 when all things appear to suggest Windows 8 is a drastic failure?
I personally love Windows 8, if you use a 3rd party app to re-add the Start menu or simply wait for Windows 8.1 Update 1, then you essentially remove the biggest complaint for Windows 8, the ‘Metro UI’ and forced use of its tile touch screen based interface. See http://techraptor.net/2014/02/12/windows8startmenu/ for more information.
With five minutes work my Windows 8 install not only looks like Windows 7, but actually functionally works better, I personally have seen a massive decrease in my boot up time compared to Windows 7, as well as other performance increases. I have also never had to install a driver manually versus Windows 7, Windows 8 automatically has all of my drivers needed to complete setup, and downloads the rest via the internet, personally I find this feature (first introduced in 7) to be something I could never live without again.
Ultimately Windows 8 can be considered a failure on sales and general consensus, and unfortunately I believe the damaged has been done by the media backlash and hyped up hate from the communities of Reddit and co, however Windows 8 has a lot of potential and I implore you all to switch asap with Windows 8.1 Update 1 now released, and the return of the Start Menu, putting and end to the 'Metro UI' hate wagon. The push for continued support for Windows XP shows just how unpopular Windows 8 has been, however this mindset of hating the new and embracing the old that currently rampages in the technology community needs to vanish fast if we intend to embrace technology and advancement like we all should, and that is why I am a happy user of Windows 8.