Bad news for Microsoft: Windows 8 adoption even slower than Vista
2012 has been a rough year for Microsoft. Windows Phone continues to have trouble attracting consumers, featuring a crisp user interface, yet commanding a relatively small market share worldwide. Microsoft also made its first real foray into the tablet market in 2012, debuting a rare piece of Microsoft hardware; the Surface RT. Reactions were positive after its announcement, but the steep price and fierce competition provided by new Apple and Android offerings lowered demand of the tablet. It's too late to judge holiday sales, but limited in-store availability of the Surface, combined with the aforementioned factors, could lead to a disappointing New Year's celebration for Microsoft brass.
And if that wasn't bad enough, it looks like 2013 is already off to a bad start. Slashdot is reporting today that Windows 8 adoption is even slower than Vista's, at the same time point after launch. From the Slashdot source:
"Windows 8 uptake has slipped behind Vista's at the same point after its release. Windows 8 online usage share is around 1.6% of all Windows PCs, which is less than the 2.2% share that Windows Vista commanded at the same two-month mark after release. Net Applications monitors operating system usage by recording OS version for around 40,000 sites it monitors for clients. The slowdown for Windows 8 adoption is a bad sign for Microsoft, who experienced great success with the release of Windows 7. Data was measured up to the 22nd of December, so there is still time by the end of the month for Windows 8 to claim a higher percentage of the user base."
Many in the blogosphere have already made comparisons between Windows 8 and Windows Vista. Parallels have also been drawn with Windows ME. Both releases were critically panned by the technology industry, and considered to be commercial failures. If this data turns out to be reliable, the comparisons could indeed be accurate. Windows 8's flop would also continue the hit-miss-hit-miss release cycle that Microsoft may have fallen into, with Windows Vista being a failure, Windows 7 being a success, Windows 8 being a failure, etc. But it could also reflect the decline of the PC industry in general, with not enough OEM units of Windows 8 being moved to make a dent in market share.
Microsoft has taken plenty of flak for design decisions in Windows 8 and the awkward experience that ensues on a desktop PC with the new OS. Microsoft has also faced internal strife over the OS, with a high profile departure of their Windows chief, Steven Sinofsky, earlier this year. It's unclear how Microsoft will proceed from here, but we can be sure of one thing; they'll keep pushing Windows 8 onto the Microsoft faithful until the bitter end. It can be assured that Windows 9 is already in the works, and it may be received as a "glass of ice water to someone in Hell" to early adopters of Windows 8 when it arrives.
Changes at the top may be in store too, although it's hard to make any predictions without knowing the internal C-level politics over at Microsoft. Microsoft's stock (NASDAQ:MSFT) has underperformed the Nasdaq, as well as most large-cap tech competitors over the past 5 years. And when mobile devices are included, Microsoft has lost most of their computer operating system market share over the past 12 years. According to Goldman Sachs, that number has gone from a 97% share in 2000 to 20% in 2012.
Don't expect Microsoft to go the way of the Dodo anytime soon, though. The company generated over $73 billion in sales for the 2012 fiscal year. So if anything, I would expect them to regroup and make a much more competitive effort with Windows 9.
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