Windows 8 sales are sluggish and disappointing at retail and in enterprises. Will they pick up in 2013?

The results are in from multiple sources, and it seems quite clear: Windows 8 sales have been sluggish and disappointing. The big question is whether they might pick up next year.

Almost everywhere you turn, people are reporting slow Windows 8 sales. Computerworld reports that Topeka Capital Markets' ODM Barometer of Asian computer manufacturers who build machines for Dell, Hewlett-Packard and others show quite sluggish sales.

Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets had this to say to clients in a note:

"With all of the sales numbers out for our ODM Barometer, October sales rose by 2% month-over-month and below the average performance of up 5% over the past seven years. This is weaker than our preliminary estimate of up 5% month-over-month in October and speaks to the continued challenges in the PC market."

...

"The sales cycle has decelerated further into negative territory, dropping to down 13% year-over-year in October from down 9% in September. This weakness is unusual given that PCs with Windows 8 and new ultrabook products are ramping."

His conclusion:

The Windows 8 ramp is much lower than expected a few months ago."

He's not alone. tech author Paul Thurrot who runs the Supersite for Windows, writes "Sales of Windows 8 PCs are well below Microsoft’s internal projections and have been described inside the company as disappointing."

David Johnson of Forrester Research found that the interest in Windows 8 from enterprises is only half that of Windows 7 during the same period in the operating systems' release cycles. Just before the release of Windows 7, 49% of North American and European IT hardware purchasers interviewed by Forrester were interested in the new operation system. Just before the release of Windows 8, only 24% were interested.

Online retailer NewEgg also has seen slow sales of Windows 8 and Windows 8 hardware, Merle McIntosh, the senior vice president of product management of Newegg North America told ReadWrite

Will 2013 be any different? McIntosh believes that it will. He expects sales of upgrades to Windows 8 to start selling well in the middle of 2013:

"I think it's going to be midway through the first half next year, probably at the end of the first quarter, going into the second quarter, when it really gets some momentum."

And there may be hope in the enterprise as well. Forrester's David Johnson said in his blog that based on research conducted before the launch of Windows 8:

"Employee interest was even higher than I expected prerelease, which means that Windows 8 will likely become a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) force for many organizations."

I think that it may not just be BYOD that may spur sales in the enterprise, but that some enterprises may use Windows 8 in targeted ways as well. I sat down last week with several people from Microsoft involved in the enterprise side of Windows 8 development and sales, and they made a compelling argument that we would start to see targeted Windows 8 deployments for specific purposes, such as for a mobile workforce, in 2013.

So there's no doubt that Windows 8 sales so far have been sluggish. They may pick up next year. If not, Microsoft will have a true problem on its hands, not just a slow launch.

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