Update: Windows 8's early uptake lags behind Vista's

Finishes December strong, but remains listless compared to Windows 7's rocket-like climb in 2009

Final online usage numbers for 2012 released Tuesday confirmed that Windows 8 failed to match Windows Vista's uptake pace during its first two months.

Preliminary numbers from Net Applications last week indicated that Windows 8 would end the month behind Vista's uptake at the same point in its release cycle. Yesterday's data confirmed the earlier projections by Computerworld.

According to the U.S.-based analytics firm, Windows 8's December global usage share was 1.9% of all Windows PCs, slightly lower than the 2.2% Vista posted in early 2007 after two full months of availability.

Windows 8 did make its strongest showing in the month's final week, however. In the week ending Dec. 29, which included Christmas, Windows 8 accounted for 2.1% of all Windows systems, a jump of four-tenths of a percentage point from the week before.

It was Windows 8's biggest-ever week-to-week increase since its Oct. 26 launch.

The inability of Windows 8 to keep pace with Vista is a troubling sign for the new operating system. Vista was pegged a failure, in part because it was adopted by relatively few customers, so associations with that flop rather than with the triumphs before and after -- Windows XP and Windows 7 -- could paint Windows 8 with the Vista brush.

While Windows 8 competed with Vista in uptake, it clearly has lost the battle with Windows 7. By the end of Windows 7's second month of availability, the 2009 OS powered 6.2% of all Windows machines, or more than three times Windows 8's current share, Net Applications' data showed.

But Windows 8 debuted in a decidedly different environment than did Vista, or even Windows 7.

Analysts, who have been predicting a weak reception for the new operating system for months, have cited a sweeping set of reasons for their forecasts. One, enterprise upgrade fatigue -- companies that recently moved from Windows XP to Windows 7 have no stomach for another migration anytime soon -- puts Windows 8 in the same boat as Vista.

In 2007, most businesses relied on Windows XP, a proven workhorse with more than five years behind it. Few bothered to tackle Vista. Windows 8 faces a similar situation, with the three-year-old Windows 7 now widely used by enterprises. Experts have said it's unlikely companies will migrate to Windows 8 because of the robustness of Windows 7 and their recent move to it.

Economic conditions may also be playing a part in Windows 8's lethargic uptake, although the data doesn't completely explain the new OS's sluggishness.

The Consumer Confidence Index, a widely-cited economic indicator, averaged 68.3 in the last two months of 2012, a far cry from the high-flying 109.7 of Vista's initial two months of availability during the first quarter of 2007. By that metric, it's understandable that Windows 8 lags behind Vista.

Windows chart
In December, Windows 8's uptake pace fell behind Vista's for the first time. Both were lethargic compared to Windows 7's trajectory in late 2009. (Data: Net Applications.)
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