A very slow start for Windows 8

A very slow start for Windows 8

Summary: There's no doubt about it--with Windows 8, Microsoft has a tough job on its hands.

TOPICS: Windows 8, Microsoft

Remember the launch of Windows 7? Microsoft staff were keen to ask us to put Vista behind us and move on. On launch day, October 22nd, 2009, 66 percent of us were still using Windows XP, even though it was eight years old. Less than a quarter of us had made the move to Vista.

From that perspective, Windows 7 was an easy sell. It righted the wrongs of the past and gave our PCs a much needed update. Hardly surprising then that 2.21 percent of us were using it on launch day, and one month later, it had taken almost 5 percent of the market. In that month, Windows XP users — the ones who weren't game to try Vista — were quick to move to the new system.

This time around, there's no such latent demand. Windows 7 is only three years old, it's pretty solid and we're used to the way it works — and 26 percent of us are still using Windows XP.

Windows 8 has come along as an unknown entity, asking us to change the way we use our PC. No surprise then that at launch, the new OS had just 0.46 percent of the browser market and one month later, that had risen to just 1.31 percent. It's a hellishly slow start.

(Credit: Phil Dobbie/ZDNet)

The figures come from Statcounter, which tracks user data from more than 3 million websites. The numbers are a telling indication of Microsoft's challenge in staying ahead in the race to give us the operating system of our dreams. Sure, they still hold 86 percent of the market, but that's quite a slide from the 95 percent of just four years ago.

(Credit: Phil Dobbie/ZDNet)

The Microsoft challenge is bigger in some parts of the world than others. In Apple-loving Australia, Microsoft's share of the OS market has fallen to 76 percent. It's only a tad higher in the UK.

Will you be learning the Windows 8 way this Christmas? If it all seems a bit daunting after you have unwrapped the gleaming new laptop on December 25th, our sister-site CNET UK has a useful "how to" guide that explains how you can make Windows 8 look and work exactly like Windows 7.

So much for progress.

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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  • Wow, that is a slow start...

    It is no wonder that we have not heard more trumpeting of Win8 from MS since the launch.

    In all fairness: tight economy and the new Win8 OS changes might not be calling to consumers this year.

    Or maybe it's those Charms.... "They're always after me lucky charms!"
    • tight economy?

      have you looked at the data?
      the US economy is not great, but it is not tight.
    • Oh, please...

      This article is half-baked. First of all, it relies on data that is now almost a month old--which is HALF of the entire lifecycle of Windows 8 so far. I mean, seriously, Mr. Dobbie... this is the best you can do?

      Secondly, aside from relying on outdated data, the author completely ignores that very pertinent fact that Windows 8 is uniquely designed for TOUCH SCREEN devices, and that only a handful of Windows 8-ready hybrids and tablets were available at launch (and many are still not available), but that the ones that were available were selling out as fast as they were put on display. Isn't it entirely possible (even probable) that one of the reasons that the uptake for Windows 8 may be slower than Windows 7 is because Windows 8 shines best on touch screen hardware... and that a lot of those devices are not yet available? Of course it is, but you didn't even mention it.

      Thirdly, what about the economy? The fiscal cliff? The fear of another recession? It's gotten so bleak out there that even Apple's stock is down 25% in the past two months! But, no, the lousy economy couldn't be a factor either.

      I'm just so tired of bloggers with agendas posing as analysts and then relying on old data points or ignoring the facts that don't fit into their narrow world view. ZDNet is becoming notorious for this lately, and it's just becoming tiresome. I'm beginning to wonder why I even bother coming here anymore. *sigh*
    • Nothing to do with the Economy

      For desktop users it's the dreadful GUI.
      Alan Smithie
      • Economic factors ALWAYS matter.

        Only the ignorant, or the ones with an agenda, would say otherwise.
  • Not Too Surprised

    A Windows 8 RT that can't run most all legacy Windows programs is essentially a brand new OS species -- entering into the mobile computing gene pool late and without many 'killer' advantages.

    As for Windows 8 Pro -- there really isn't a current need for it in the much bigger (but also more stable) desktop environment.

    Lose-Lose for now.

    But once hardware catches up -- when tablets become more powerful while running more efficiently -- I can see a Win 9 Pro capturing the market massively.

    To me, the tablet format is the most versatile. You can dock it, hold it, use it in bed, etc., etc.

    I don't see Android ever fulfilling the "do it all" role. Apple has a chance, but its walled garden approach turns away many. Windows still has the best chance, I think.
    • Out of curiosity, why not an "Android do-it-all"?

      If you had Android running on a PC form factor, what would you not be able to accomplish?
      • I have considered just that

        I have considered moving all my non-gaming day to day computing over to a mk802 or simliar mini-pc device that would plug directly into a smaller 32" HDTV add a powered USB hub for keyboard and mouse and you have a viable desktop solution for under $60
      • A lot

        Android is getting there, but the productivity apps are a joke.
        Michael Alan Goff
    • I agree...

      I agree that Microsoft still has a huge advantage in that (1) the business sector still relies on Windows and are fertile ground for Windows tablets, and (2) the lock-in for Android is not as strong as the lock-in for Windows--the reason being that most Android apps are free or cheap, while one PC game or Office software can run $50-$200.

      In short, Windows is more entrenched than Android. That could change, but for the time being, I think it's still very true. I don't know many people who'd use Android or Chrome as their primary OS on their home PC, but I think people are warming up to Windows Phones... and Windows tablets/hybrids will just grow over time because, well, it's Windows.
  • Not very surprised

    Windows 7 was fixing a perceived problem, and it didn't have the weight of the tech media bearing against it. Windows 8 does not have these luxuries.
    Michael Alan Goff
  • Leave Vista alone!!

    Still using it never had any of the problems it was known for. We are waiting until after Christmas to upgrade all of our computers and laptops.
    • You were fortunate

      Some people I actually know were not. Crawled in the VM I was running it in too.
      John L. Ries
      • The problem with Vista was...

        There were three things that (fairly or unfairly) doomed Vista:

        (1) A lot of the "Vista-ready" PCs were not really Vista-capable, so many users had new computers that were slow (which is understandably frustrating),
        (2) The pop-up notifications for security, etc. were a nuissance (and not easy to turn off), and
        (3) the OS would automatically update your PC while you were using it, which would make it run very slowly (sometimes for days) until all updates were installed.

        All of these things created a terrible first impression which Apple seized upon in their ads, thereby magnifying them. Microsoft, as usual, had no real response... until Windows 7, which has repaired some of the damage to its reputation... though not all.
        • Really?


          (1) That is the fault of OEM manufacturers who were wanting to slap a label on their machine regardless of how well it ran. Anyone who gets a bare bones spec that only just scraps by is going to get it running slow. Half of these people never tweaked their OS to optimise performance either!

          (2) This one just makes me laugh. People keep jumping up and down DEMANDING security, and when they are given it, they complain its too much. The fact was that people had no clue just how often things were occurring on their machine which had the potential to cause harm, and so if they felt these screens were a nuissance, then it should have opened their eyes up to the truth.

          There was nothing stopping them from choosing to just automatically accept everything form that source, which would have removed the nuissance but also increased their risk of being insecure. The FACT is that if you handles this properly, it went away after a while, but at least you knew you had a secure machine and it would properly inform you whenever there was an issue.

          What would you have preferred? That it just didn't bother telling you and either locked it down too tight or left it too open? Thats madness

          (3) Are you kidding me? This has been the same for every OS since Win95 and was completely in control of the user. You didn't have to automatically allow updated, and its no different to Windows 7 even now. Geez... How could you NOT know that!

          But I used vista the same as I used Win95, Win98, WinME before it and Windows 7 after it and I have to say I dont understand what everybody was complaining about. It was just as smooth an experience for every single operating system. Sure they had their differences, but they all did what they were supposed to, provides way of achieving what I wanted and I only rarely ran into problems which can occur on any version of any operating system.
          • Agree in most

            Vista is still alive and kicking on a lot of customer's PCs and it's fine. It really did NOT deserve the bashing it got. Sure on some Compaq cheap-ass $500 notebooks with 1Gb RAM its was slow. WTF do you expect???

            I deal with a LOT of customers and have a LOT of experience with Vista. A lot of the people bagging it didn't even use it! They just took the FUD from the media and ran with it.

            The only issue that popped up occasionally was slow network transfers for me and my customers. I won't say Vista was flawless, but the crap it copped was complete over-reaction by non-users.

            I will concede Windows 7 was better on the same hardware, I am an honest man, but please stop bagging Vista UNLESS you had multiple reasonable quality computers running it and experienced real problems for longer than it took the service packs to come out.
    • Vista problems

      Vista problems were real for many people, not imagined. I had a laptop with vista, a Lenovo X61. It was unusable. So many crashes it corrupted my OS and forced me to re-install from the recovery partition (and I've never had any other version of Widows do that). I put XP on the machine and it ran great after that. Couple years later I put Win 7 on it and have never had a single problem with it. Great machine. So yeah, Vista was a dog for many people.
      • Drivers

        And yet ALL of your problems could have been explained by a dodgy third party device driver, which would definately cause the problems you mentioned, and yet the entire operating system gets blamed. Sheesh!
  • Windows 8 Revenge is coming

    The Revenge of Windows 8 is coming and it is going to level the Tablet Market.

    The Atom based Windows 8 Tablet Edition Machines are going to bring real performance and real desktop compatibility. I am not talking Core i7 or even i3 performance but, beyond the high end of the current Tablets running the market right now.
    • Windows Death Is Coming

      I was with you until you put "Atom" and "real performance" in the same sentence.