Posted by: Onuora Amobi
Microsoft, Windows 8
There are a lot of opinions out there on why Windows 8 is seeing slow sales. Although Microsoft has sold over 60 million licenses, many of these have been to PC vendors and OEMs, who still have these machines sitting around.
So what exactly is the root of the so-called problem? This has been discussed at length many times, but here are just three reasons why Windows 8 isn’t flying off the shelves. Each of these problems is curable with time, meaning that Windows 8′s fate is still far from decided.
Swinging From A Traditional OS to a Touch-Intitutive Interface
Windows 8 is a big change from Windows 7, this has been mentioned many times before. The point though is that going from a more traditional OS to a touch-oriented OS should be a gradual process. With Apple, we have yet to see a touch PC despite how great their iPad and iPhone lines seem to be doing.
Instead, we’ve seen a continued push towards touchpads that have advanced gestures in OS X. Some of these exists in Windows 7, but not nearly as advanced as has been seen with Mac OS X. With Apple, it seems that the company is slowly moving the UI to a full touch experience version by version (adding things like the launcher and improved gestures along the way). Eventually the touch PCs will come, but by then people will be totally ready for them.
Windows 7 was nearly useless for gesture and touch commands. Windows 8 is all in. This is a night and day transition.
The High Costs of a Touch PC
Escalating the problem is the fact that touch computers are generally $800-$1000 and higher. Let’s face it, consumers have been spoiled when it comes to pricing in recent years. With netbooks that were in the sub-$300 range and tablets that are now getting into the sub-$200, most consumers don’t want to pay for high-end computers with touch.
While it is entirely possible to throw an atom processor into a thin-and-light design and give it a touch screen for the price of $450-$600 dollars, we really haven’t seen it yet. The bottom-line is that until pricing comes down, touch computers aren’t going to take off all that much.
The solution? Budget touch laptops and a continued push towards touchpads for laptops that have more advanced gestures for Windows 8 built right in.
Today’s Computers are Handling Current Needs Just Fine
Another big reason for slow growth for Windows 8 is that many PC owners are just fine with their Windows 7 (or even earlier) devices. While Windows 8 IS an improvement from Windows 7, it isn’t a significant enough one to justify throwing out your computer in favor of a brand new one, unless you are going all in with a higher costing touch device or simply like to have the latest software on the market.
As for upgrading? While technical users might be inclined to do so, most consumers simply replace their PC every 3-5 years and get a new version of Windows that way. With more households having supplemental computing devices like smartphones and tablets, the average consumer doesn’t use their PC as much as they once did, so it is hard to justify upgrading unless they absolutely have to. This is why PC life is extending from a more traditional 2-3 years to a longer 3-5 (or longer) lifespan.
So what is the solution?
Honestly, many of Microsoft’s problems will work themselves out with time. As Windows 7, Vista and XP machines continue to age, consumers will want a more advanced PC for their household.
As for the touch PC issue? That too will work itself out as gesture mouses and trackpads become more common to make Windows 8 devices easier to use. Additionally, touchscreen costs will continue to drop over the next few years making it more possible to make a sub-$500 touch laptop.
Really though, Microsoft could speed things along through stronger marketing. While Microsoft has spent quite a bit of money on advertising the new UI, they haven’t really marketed solid reasons why consumers should ditch their old-school computers in favor of Windows 8. They also haven’t provided a solid enough reason (pricing, apps, etc) for users to justify spending $500+ on Windows 8 tablets when they can get entry devices for much cheaper than that and even the highly popular and established iPad for around the same price as a Windows 8 tablet with a less established ecosystem.
Will Windows 8 be another Vista? I don’t think it will be another Windows 7 when it comes to popularity, but it isn’t Vista either. There is little reason to downgrade to Windows 7 or older like people did with Vista. Windows Vista’s flaws were deep speed and performance issues early on. Windows 8′s only fault is that it is unfamilar, which can be remedied by either adjusting to the changes over time or simply getting a cheap start menu replacement.