Windows 8 falls further behind Windows 7 in pre-launch stats

Users four times less likely to try Windows 8 than they did its predecessor in '09

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If Microsoft watches these numbers -- and there's no reason to think it does not, since the company regularly cites Net Applications' data when it discusses Internet Explorer's browser share -- it must be disheartened by the comparisons.

Not only does Windows 8 compare unfavorably to Windows 7, but the gap between the two has widened. Two months ago Windows 8's share was half of Windows 7's three years before. Since then the difference between the editions has doubled, with Windows 8's June share only one-fourth of Windows 7's in that month of 2009.

Unlike post-launch share data, the early returns are not tainted with new PCs that come with an operating system. Rather, users chose to install the previews of Windows 7 and Windows 8, and thus the share figures represent a more accurate picture of customer interest in the upcoming operating system itself, not in the desire -- or need -- to acquire new hardware.

Net Applications' data, of course, doesn't preclude Windows 8 from flourishing once new systems running it reach stores and the upgrade becomes available for purchase by those who don't plan on replacing PCs. In fact, Microsoft has priced the Windows 8 upgrade at an all-time low of $40 in a promotion that starts when the OS ships and ends Jan. 31, 2013. The price cut could jumpstart Windows 8.

But even Microsoft has tacitly admitted that Windows 8 will be a hard sell to some, notably enterprises. In mid-2009, several months before Windows 7's release, Microsoft told enterprises to dump deployment plans for that edition and shift to Windows 7.

Customers did just that: Windows 7 will become the most popular Windows this month when it passes XP in Net Applications' calculations.

However, Microsoft has not told users to stop deploying Windows 7. As recently as last month the company again urged enterprises to continue their adoption of Windows 7.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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