Here's why Windows 8 will never approach Vista's awfulness

Windows 8 has taken plenty of criticism since its release. But even though it's been called as big a bomb as Vista, Windows 8 will have much more success than that version of Windows. Here's why.

Let's start out with the most basic reason Windows 8 isn't as bad as Vista: Windows 8 will likely gain a greater market share than Vista ever did. According to Net Applications figures, Vista's greatest market share for a year was only 17.73%, in 2009. Windows 7 very quickly eclipsed Vista after it was released.

Windows 8 may be off to a sluggish start, but there's a reasonable chance it will end up surpassing Vista's high point, at least if you take tablets into account. Net Applications latest figures show Windows 8 with a 3.82% market share in April, up from 3.17% in March. In January it was at 2.26%. Certainly not great, but a rise of more than 1.5% in three months, and more important, a rise of more than .5% in a single month. If you take tablets into account, Windows 8's market share in April was 3.84%.

There's a good chance that Net Applications is underestimating Windows tablet market share. The latest figures from Strategy Analytics shows that Windows tablets had 7.5% of the tablet market for the first quarter of 2013, with 3 million shipped. Not stellar numbers, certainly, but it shows that Windows 8 is gaining a toehold in the tablet market.

Taking tablets into account, and given Windows 8 slowly accelerating sales, it's not unreasonable to expect that Windows 8 could gain 10% to 12% or more of market share per year. That would mean that by sometime next year, it could exceed Windows Vista's top market share.

The other main reason Windows 8 won't eventually be considered as bad as Vista was is that even though it's a kludge of an operating system, it was at least an attempt to make something truly new -- the melding of mobile and desktop. It also will likely help usher in an era in which touch will become more a part of people's daily computing lives. And under the hood, it offers considerable performance increases.

All this doesn't mean that I've suddenly become a fan of Windows 8. I still think it was a mistake to build a single operating system for tablets and traditional computers. And saying that it's better than Vista isn't much more than damning it with faint praise. Ultimately I expect that the next major version of Windows may well fix many of Windows 8's problems, the same way that Windows 7 did for Vista.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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