We’ve long said that it’s unfair to slap Windows 8 with the dreaded Vista comparison and now we have some data to back it up. ZDNet’s Ed Bott this week took a look at Amazon (AMZN) customer ratings for several versions of Microsoft’s (MSFT) operating system and found that while Windows 8 has its share of haters, it also has even more people who enthusiastically support the platform. Overall, 50% of Windows 8 users gave the platform four or five-star reviews while 40% gave it a one or two-star rating. This contrasts very favorably with Vista, which received one and two-star ratings from 50% of users while receiving four and five-star ratings from just 37% of users. The ratings also show that dislike of Vista was remarkably intense, with 42% of users giving it a one-star rating that Bott describes as a “middle finger” to the platform. More →
The next version of the Windows operating system may not be known as Windows 9, as had previously been reported. According to ZDNet, the operating system, which is currently known internally as Windows Blue, will come to market as Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 later this summer. The latest rumors suggest that Microsoft’s (MSFT) upcoming Windows update will include a variety of new features such as customized live tiles and improvements to the Snap View feature. The company is expected to announce Windows 8.1 at its Build developers conference on June 26th in San Francisco, and it will reportedly be released to manufacturing partners around August.
It has been over year since HTC (2498) has released a tablet, however a new report suggests the struggling company is preparing to take on the iPad once more. According to NPD DisplaySearch, HTC will reportedly debut a new tablet later this year, FocusTaiwan reported. The slate is expected to be equipped with a 10.1-inch full HD 1080p display and run Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows 8 operating system. The research firm believes mass production began in the first quarter of this year and the tablet could be announced in the coming months. HTC previously released the 7-inch HTC Flyer in February 2011 and the 10.1-inch HTC Jetstream tablet in September 2011, both of which ran the Android operating system. The company has not unveiled a new tablet since then, however.
The latest numbers from Net Applications show that Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows 8 operating system is slowly gaining traction. The company’s latest operating system is now found on 3.17% of computers, a small increase from February’s 2.67% share. Windows 8 was released last October and has gradually increased its market share over the past five months. The operating system experienced its biggest jump in market share following the holiday season, growing from 1.72% in December to a 2.26% share in January. Despite the small gains, however, Windows 8 remains less used than previous Windows releases. More →
One thing has been missing from Microsoft’s (MSFT) foray into the tablet world so far: A cheaper, smaller tablet that can go toe-to-toe with the Kindle Fire HD and the iPad mini. ZDNet reports that recent changes to Windows 8 hardware certification guidelines suggest that Microsoft is giving OEMs more freedom to make 7-inch tablets since ”the new guidelines relax the minimum resolution for Windows 8 devices to 1024 x 768 at a depth of 32 bits.” ZDNet says that OEMs need to justify to Microsoft why they’re using lower resolutions, however, so it doesn’t give them carte blanche to release big-screen devices that have inferior displays. Microsoft said in releasing the guidelines that “partners exploring designs for certain markets could find greater design flexibility helpful,” so it certainly sounds as though we’ll be seeing some low-cost Windows 8 tablets in the near future.
Microsoft (MSFT) is willing to pay app developers $100 for every Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 app they develop, but the company insists that payouts aren’t its main strategy for improving its app ecosystem. A Microsoft spokesperson told AllThingsD that the company believes “the best apps come from those partners who are invested in the platform and own their experience now and in the future” and that its limited-time $100 offer “is not representative of an ongoing program.” Microsoft has put a lot of effort into attracting developers to both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 as it tries to generate developer enthusiasm for its platforms that matches the level of enthusiasm for iOS and Android. A recent study by PCMag showed that Windows Phone 8 now offers 63% of the 102 most popular apps available for iOS and Android.
Microsoft’s (MSFT) attempts to merge desktop and tablet functionalities with Windows 8 have left it with an “awkward” operating system that consumers have been slow to adopt, says Nomura Equity Research analyst Rick Sherlund. Per Barron’s, Sherlund released a new research note this week saying that it will take much more time for Microsoft to fully develop Windows 8 to the point where it can “deliver more compelling form factors and lower prices and a richer ecosystem of developers and apps for the Microsoft store.” More →
Windows 8 has taken its share of lumps over the past few months, but one analyst thinks its troubles all began with Microsoft’s (MSFT) decision to omit the Start button from its user interface. In an interview with CNET, IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell says that not having a Start button is a big turnoff to many users who have spent years working with Windows and who have come to expect it as a central feature of any Windows device. More →
Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft (MSFT) was offering its manufacturing partners a discount on Windows 8 licensing fees. The reduced cost will likely help manufacturers offer lower priced Windows 8 laptops. According to Digitimes, prices of Windows 8-powered touchscreen notebooks are expected to drop at least 10%, while some entry-level models could drop as much as 20%. Touchscreen laptops currently account for about 10% of all notebook sales, however the reduced prices are expected to increase sales to account for more than 20% in the second quarter. The new “sweet spot” for touchscreen notebooks is said to be around $500, although it will still likely take some time before consumers fully embrace the new operating system.
It’s safe to say that Jun Dong-soo, the head of Samsung’s (005930) memory chip business, won’t be getting a Christmas card from Steve Ballmer this year. The Korea Times reports that Jun told reporters on Friday that Windows 8 has failed to boost demand for personal computers and even compared Microsoft’s (MSFT) newest operating system to the much-derided Vista platform. More →
Windows 8 sales have reportedly fallen short of Microsoft’s (MSFT) expectations, so the company is exploring new ways to spur demand. According to a report on Wednesday from Digitimes, the company’s latest effort involves giving its PC vendor partners a sizable $20 discount on Windows 8 licenses for notebook computers with screens sized 11.6 inches and below. For notebooks, tablets and hybrids with screens sized 10.8 inches or lower, Microsoft will also reportedly include free Office 2013 software. Windows 8 licenses reportedly cost between $80 and $90 excluding Office, so this healthy discount could help vendors offer devices that are much less expensive than comparable systems currently on the market.
Following the seemingly tepid launch of Windows 8, critics were told to wait until after the holiday shopping season was over to properly assess Microsoft’s (MSFT) newest operating system. The latest monthly numbers from analytics firm Net Applications are in and Windows 8 usage remains low. After two months into the new year, the operating system only accounts for 2.67% of web traffic, a small increase from 2.36% in January. Windows 8 continues to lag behind Windows Vista (5.17%), Windows XP (38.99%) and Windows 7 (44.55%). Last month also marked the end of Microsoft’s deep discount on Windows 8. The operating system now costs a whopping $119.99, making it even more difficult for the company to entice consumers to upgrade.
If you think the $899 Surface Pro is too rich for your blood, don’t sweat it: there are plenty of cheaper quality alternatives out there. Consumer Reports has been testing out several low-cost Windows 8 laptops and has found that they aren’t just priced well but that they perform well too. Among the winners were ASUS’s (2357) S56CA-DH51, a 15-inch laptop that costs $650 and that Consumer Reports praises for “very good performance and excellent ergonomics”; Sony’s (SNE) VAIO SVT-13122CXS, a 13-inch ultrabook that costs $625; and Acer’s (2353) M5-581T-6807, a $600, 15.6-inch laptop that Consumer Reports says has “excellent performance and respectable battery life.” With so many quality laptops priced under $700, Consumer Reports hopes that it’s a sign that “more inexpensive touch screen laptops are coming soon.”