Early warning signs point to a Windows 8 apathetic launch

If the number of people using pre-release versions of Windows 8 are any guide, the new operating system may have a rocky launch and uptake, says new research from Net Applications.

Gregg Keizer reports that according to Net Applications, at the same stage of development, Windows 7 had four times the market share of Windows 8. In June, about four months before the expected launch of Windows 8, .2% of Windows PCs were using a version of Windows 8, Net Applications says. In 2009, four months before the launch of Windows 7, .8% of Windows PCs were using a version of Windows 7.

Keizer notes that the numbers are skewed slightly, because the Windows 7 beta was around for a longer period of time than have been the various Windows 8 release candidates. Still, even taking that into account, Net Applications data shows that Windows 8 lags Windows 7. Keizer reports:

"In the first full month after each sneak peek's release, Windows 7's share of all Windows PCs was two to three times greater than Windows 8's."

The numbers shouldn't be a surprise, and they're likely not statistical anomalies. Windows 8 probably won't get the same kind of enthusiastic uptake as did Windows 7. One obvious issue is that Windows 8 has been designed more for tablets than PCs, and so PC users are likely staying away from it.

In addition, there's less reason to upgrade from Windows 7 than there was to upgrade from Windows Vista. Vista was a troubled operating system, and so many users wanted to upgrade. Windows 7 has proven to be solid and reliable, so there's less need  for people to upgrade to a new version of Windows.

Also, because the Metro operating system is so different than Windows 7, many enterprises aren't likely to upgrade.

Finally, and perhaps most important, is that people appear to be buying tablets in lieu of buying new PCs, and they're opting primarily for iPads, and secondarily for Android devices. That means that a smaller percentage of people overall will be looking to buy Windows machines, and that would likely be the case even if Windows 8 was a breakout operating system. It's also why Microsoft wrote the operating system more for tablets than for PCs. But don't expect that to help Windows 8 get a large percentage of the tablet market.

So no matter how good Windows 8 had been, a smaller percentage of people would be upgrading to it than had upgraded to Windows 7. But the decision to focus on mobile design rather than traditional PC design is likely hurting it as well.

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