Windows 8 uptake: More like Vista than Windows 7

Falls further behind Windows 7's 2009 rocket ride

After a month on the market, Windows 8's usage uptake resembles 2007's Vista -- ultimately a poor performer for Microsoft -- rather than the eventually successful Windows 7, a Web measurement company said Saturday.

According to Net Applications, 1.2% of all Windows PCs ran Windows 8 during November, more than double its share the month before.

While Windows 8 uptake rate edged Vista's first full month -- that OS ended February 2007 with a 1% share of all Windows systems -- the new edition actually jumped less than the problem- and perception-plagued Vista. From January to February 2007, Vista increased its share more than five times, compared to the doubling of Windows 8.

The difference may have little to do with the two operating systems and all to do with economics and choice: The global economy was significantly more robust in early 2007 than it is now, and five years ago consumers had few alternatives to a PC, since smartphones and tablets were then just a gleam in engineers' eyes.

Windows 8's gains last month were lackluster compared to Windows 7's in late 2009. By the end of that upgrade's first full month at retail, it had captured 4.3% of all Windows.

Windows 8's November gain was its best-ever since Net Applications began tracking the new operating system. Even so, it fell further behind Windows 7's pace. In 2009, Windows 7 added 2 percentage points in its first month after launch, while Windows 8 added only seven-tenths of a point, less than a half as much.

In fact, Windows 8 may have trouble keeping pace with Vista. By the end of Vista's second month, it accounted for 2.2% of all copies of Windows. To equal that, Windows 8 will have to add another full percentage point to its share in December.

Net Applications' statistics corroborate other data that showed Windows 8 has not prompted consumers or businesses to buy new PCs. Last week, the NPD Group said that in the four weeks since Windows 8's Oct. 26 debut, U.S. consumer PC sales had dropped 21% compared to the same period in 2011.

NPD's conclusion: Windows 8's introduction not only failed to boost PC sales, but it also did nothing to slow the year-long slide.

The usage data also bolsters analysis of Microsoft's assertion that it sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses -- a number the company said is "in line" with Windows 7's first month. Experts did not dispute the 40 million, but noted that many of those licenses were tied to PCs that had not yet been sold to customers, and so Microsoft's number did not represent Windows 8's real-world use.

Other versions of Windows kept to their long-running trends.

Windows XP lost eight-tenths of a percentage point last month to fall under 40% for the first time since its early years. XP, which is slated for retirement in less than 500 days, accounted for 39.8% of all personal computers in November, or 44.5% of all Windows machines. Vista also slipped by one-tenth of a percentage point as its share continued to slip toward zero.

And Windows 7 remained flat, ending the month with a 44.7% share of all PCs and 48.9% of all Windows PCs. November was the first month since March that Windows 7's share did not add gain at least half a percentage point.

The bulk of Windows 8's increase last month came at the apparent expense of XP, but the data may be misleading. It's possible, for instance, that some, or even many, of the lost XP-powered systems were replaced by ones running Windows 7, and that because Window 8 upgrades are more likely to come from Windows 7, that there were two transfers of share last month: One from XP to Windows 7, another from Windows 7 to Windows 8.

Most analysts are now forecasting a weak reception for Windows 8, blaming the fragile global economy, the OS's confusing dual user interfaces, enterprise upgrade fatigue after migrating from XP to Windows 7, and competition from rivals' tablets, including Apple's iPad, for technology dollars.

Net Applications measures operating system usage by tracking unique visitors to approximately 40,000 sites it monitors for clients.

See more Computerworld Windows 8 launch coverage including news, reviews and blogs.

Windows 8's uptake trajectory matches 2007's Vista -- not a good sign -- rather than 2009's Windows 7. (Data: Net Applications.)

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 gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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6 Comments

Neil

1

More hype regarding W8. I for one never upgraded to Vista due to the bad press and user experiences from colleagues. However the opposite would have to be said about W8. Not only have I upgraded all my laptops and desktops, I am flat out upgrading all my friens PCs as well. W8 is great!

jay_rx1

2

I am using windows 8 for more than a month now, and I love it! its blazing fast! from booting, running programs, and shutting down, its a lot faster than xp,vista, and 7. and all of the programs i use in windows 7 works fine! im using the windows defender built in on the os which I found to be more effective than other anti virus I used before, so its much more secure out of the box! the design is another thing, i love the simplistic design that MS has done on the os, from the task bar, title bar, buttons, live tiles, it looks fresh, clean, and modern. it looks gorgeous! i don't why people complain about its usability, if your a windows user, you can be easily familiarized with the changes on the os. the start button? whats great about the start button??? common guys! the start screen is the new start button! its better because you can personalize it! you can pin applications you use more often in an organized manner because you can group it! finding an app? the charm bar takes care of that the moment you click the search charm, you can scroll through all the installed apps or you can just type it in the search bar. just that easy! so tell me guys what is not great about windows 8?!

Lion's Den

3

I don't know about the above two posters, they sound like the are paid by Microsoft

I was excited by Windows 8, but after using the consumer preview, release preview and now the rtm version, it feels normal now and I'm no longer excited. I am slightly excited thinking about a new touch screen device, but waiting until something awesome comes out, I bought the surface rt for my mother and its pretty fun, but I want more power for myself

Going to work and using Windows 7 feels old

Beyond the Lion's Den

4

Also people won't be quick to leave Windows 7, because it was the best OS yet

Gordon Drennan

5

"Most analysts are now forecasting a week reception for Windows 8 ...".

That's the best way to "forecast", isn't it. Afterwards, when you know what's happened. Its much safer than forecasting before the event. You might be wrong.

IT_Observer

6

Windows 8 is a failure, Microsoft though it was a best bet, but it turned sour, Windows 7 is by far much better.
Users from earlier versions may want to move gradually to Windows 7 as the OS has the primary elements to work with, the Start menu and the desktop.
Computers can't behave like mobile phones devices, also the traditional applications cannot be handled by one central distribution point.
I prefer the way applications can be accessed via CD-ROM/DVD or compressed files, where it can be installed at a time that is suitable.
Just imagine if you have got applications from the "AppStore" if there is some instances where the hard Disk has to be reformatted, or adding a bigger capacity then a significant time has to be spent on installing again the OS, drivers, programs and applications and lastly updates, not to mention that the most essential protection should be included as well.
Some people have bought a brand new computer and probably decided to buy the windows 8 upgrade because the amount is very little almost $15, but it has to be seen if these people intend to use it where the real situation is this windows version is not what used to be.
One thing is innovation, other is usability, The one that should step down is Microsoft CEO Balmer, for his narrow thinking that people will embrace this version with open arms.

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