Let’s be clear: I think that Windows 8 is in many ways a good operating system. But it is also a very polarizing one among longtime Windows users and that’s something Microsoft will ignore at its own peril. First, let’s go through Windows 8′s obvious virtues — it runs much more smoothly than earlier versions of Windows, it starts up more quickly and is generally a more stable platform than Windows 7. However, for a sizable chunk of PC users these plusses are outweighed by the giant minus of the big changes Microsoft made to the traditional Windows user interface. More →
If you want to understand why Windows 8 has been a failure so far, the following quote from IDC analyst Jay Chou explains it all: “The chief concern for future PC demand is a lack of reasons to replace an older system.” This is a big problem for Microsoft because the entire point of Windows 8 was to ignite demand within the PC market and make people want to replace their older systems with new touch-enabled PCs that would slow the growth of iOS and Android as rival mobile computing platforms. But as IDC’s latest research shows, that simply isn’t happening. More →
Sorry, Microsoft: Even the superficial return of the Start button isn’t enough to make people clamor for Windows 8. TheNextWeb takes a look at some of the latest numbers from Net Applications and finds that Windows 8′s growth has stagnated as the combined market share of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 grew by only 0.05 percentage points in November. In contrast, Windows 7′s market share grew by 0.22 percentage points, which means that users upgrading to new PCs still seem to prefer Windows 7 to Windows 8. It also seems that Windows 8.1′s growth is almost entirely driven by current Windows 8 users who are eagerly upgrading their PCs to take advantage of the latest software, as Windows 8.1′s market share grew by 0.92 percentage points and Windows 8′s market share shrank by 0.87 percentage points.
Microsoft’s big hope with Windows 8 was that it would spawn a new wave of demand for touch-enabled PCs that would revitalize a declining industry. Needless to say that hasn’t happened so far and new data from NPD DisplaySearch estimates that touch-enabled notebooks will account for just 11% of all notebooks shipped in 2013, which is a pretty low number given that the entire premise of Microsoft’s new operating system is to bring tablet-style touch capabilities to personal computers. More →
As more Windows users transition to Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, Microsoft’s app store is beginning to gain some traction. TechCrunch has shared Microsoft’s latest numbers, which show that the Windows Store delivered 1.7 million daily downloads in October, a 39% increase over the number of apps downloaded daily from the store in June. More →
There’s no question that the adoption rate for Windows 8 is much slower than Microsoft had expected. Some manufacturers are even sticking with Windows 7 as their primary operating system for new machines. In an interview with ZDNet, Toshiba’s business-to-business product marketing manager Cindy Zwerling said that “Windows 7 is clearly the enterprise operating system at this time.” Although some businesses that have transitioned to Windows 8 tablets, Windows 7 machines still make up 99% of Toshiba’s business sales. Zwerling pointed out that migrating an entire business to a new operating system is a “huge undertaking,” and most organizations feel like they just made the switch to Windows 7. Toshiba will continue to sell the most up-to-date PCs for regular consumers, but the electronics conglomerate does not see any corporate demand for Windows 8 so far.
The Windows 8 app market has struggled to gain any real traction, dwarfed by the gigantic iOS and Android app stores. But it does seem to have a secret edge over the larger app markets: a total lack of IP protection! Right now, some of the hottest new apps on Windows are called Mario Jump, Yoshijump and Pokemon Attack. And yes, they do use the popular Nintendo characters from the games we all know and love. The apps seem very odd — the Mario game seems to be combining a photorealistic sky backdrop with 1980s style platforms. Bowser Town Defense features an equally weird graphical style. More →
Although Windows 8 has been steadily increasing its share of the market over the past few months, a recent surge by Windows 7 has put the old OS back on top, at least temporarily. The most recent data from Net Applications shows that Windows 8 is up 0.61% from last month, which means Microsoft’s new operating system is on 8.02% of machines hitting the company’s network, but the Windows 7 adoption rate increased at a rate of 0.80%, bringing it up to 46.43% of the market. Windows XP continues to fall off the charts, dropping from 33.66% to 31.41%, though it is worth noting this is a slightly less precipitous drop than last month’s. Perhaps the release of Windows 8.1 and the retooled Start button will bring users around to the new OS as the year ends.
The “blue screen of death” that signifies a system failure has historically characterized Microsoft’s Windows operating system as much as the windows-based user interface itself. Seeing the dreaded “BSOD” meant you had undoubtedly just lost whatever work was being done at the time, and a reboot was the only way out. Catastrophic failures that brought on the BSOD used to be fairly regular occurrences in Windows, however the dreaded blue screen has made itself much more scarce in recent years. According to a recent report from ZDNet, this is a direct result of Microsoft’s hard work to identify the various causes of these system crashes and stamp them out. More →
This could be just the thing that Microsoft needs to reignite developer interest in Windows Phone: A common app store for its multiple platforms. Unnamed sources tell The Verge that Microsoft has been testing out a single app store for both Windows 8 apps and Windows Phone 8 apps that will offer a common platform for developers to sell their software. Microsoft is planning to launch the store with the release of Windows Phone 8.1 and with a special update to Windows 8.1 in the first half of 2014. Although we still don’t know how the combined app store will work, The Verge speculates that “it’s possible that Microsoft may take an approach that’s similar to Apple’s App Store, where tablet specific apps don’t run on the phone, but phone apps scale to run on a tablet.”
One month out from release, Microsoft has announced the official pricing and packaging for Windows 8.1 The newest version of the Windows operating system will be available as a free download for Windows 8 users starting on October 17th from the Windows Store. All of the features Microsoft announced earlier this year will be included in the update. Windows users who do not currently run Windows 8 will be able to buy the upgrade online or at a brick and mortar retailer. Windows 8.1 will cost $119.99 and Windows 8.1 Pro will cost $199.99. Windows 8.1 Pro Pack, which adds Pro features to the regular version of the software, will cost $99.99. More →
Windows 8 is certainly polarizing but it’s certainly started to gain momentum over the last month. The latest numbers from Net Applications show that Windows 8 machines accounted for 7.4% of all desktop computers in August 2013, up two percentage points from July when they accounted for 5.4% of all desktops. The rise is Windows 8 adoption has coincided with a fall in use for Windows XP, which saw its share of desktop computers fall from 37.2% to 33.7% between July and August, a drop of 3.5 percentage points. Since Microsoft plans to drop support for Windows XP next year, the platform’s market share plunge should only accelerate more in the coming months.
If something sounds too good to be true, then that probably means it’s bloatware. Ars Technica reports that Lenovo’s new Start menu replacement for Windows 8 PCs probably won’t deliver the traditional Start menu experience that many PC users have been looking for. Essentially, the third-party Start menu from SweetLabs that Lenovo is pre-loading onto its new PCs has an annoying habit of constantly prompting you to buy new apps that you probably don’t want. More →