Early signs point to bad news for Windows 8's launch. The new operating system's pre-launch adoption numbers are extremely low, lagging those of Windows 7 at the same pre-adoption point by a factor of five.
Computerworld's Gregg Keizer reports that new numbers from Net Applications shows that:
"With just weeks before the public launch of Windows 8, users are five times less likely to be running the new OS than they were Windows 7 at the same point in its countdown."
Keizer says that according to Net Applications, in September only 0.33% of computers running Windows were running Windows 8. (The release to manufacturing version of Windows 8 has been available to developers, IT pros, and enterprises with volume licenses.) At the equivalent time previous to the Windows 7 launch, Net Applications reports, Windows 7 was running on 1.64% of all Windows PCs.
That doesn't necessarily mean that Windows 8 will be a bust, but it's certainly a leading indicator that it might not be a resounding success. Gartner, for example, has said that Microsoft took a "big gamble" by designing Windows 8 for tablets more than PCs, and says that gamble likely won't pay off. Gartner says that Windows 8 will never gain more than 20% to 25% of enterprise market share.
I've used Windows 8 on both tablets and traditional computers, and on tablets Windows 8 is a winner. It's clearly been designed for a tablet's touch interface, and designed well. But on traditional PCs, it's problematic. The Start screen isn't particularly useful, the Desktop has been stripped of the Start menu, and the Windows 8 native apps (previously called Metro apps) are underpowered for traditional PCs.
Microsoft is clearly hoping that pre-launch numbers aren't a harbinger of things to come. My guess, though, is that they are.