Gartner: Windows 8 for desktop users is, in a word, "bad"

Gartner: Windows 8 for desktop users is, in a word, "bad"

Summary: With just over three months until Windows 8 hits the store shelves and digital markets, research firm Gartner has just one, tiny word to describe the desktop version of the upcoming operating system.


Gartner has two things to say about Microsoft's upcoming operating system. Windows 8 on tablets: "I like this thing." Windows 8 on desktops: "In a word: Bad."


In a five-part review, Gartner's research director veteran Gunnar Berger runs through the latest offering from Microsoft and meticulously details his experiences.

Given the fact that Windows 8 will be available in both desktop and tablet versions -- the latter dubbed Windows 8 on ARM, or officially Windows RT -- he runs through in great detail what the consumer and enterprise user should expect in a break away from previous visual stylings of Windows.

There's no doubt Microsoft has invested a great deal in setting Windows up for the tablet environment -- albeit somewhat late to the party following both Apple and Google's long-standing position in market share rankings -- and it's paid off in terms of Gartner's view. 

"I see Windows 8 as a great compromise with the end-user consumer," Berger said in part two. He noted in a previous piece that Windows 8 isn't a strict move to "enable the enterprise," but "a move to support the trend towards consumerization within the enterprise." In other words: Windows 8 is "aimed at end-user consumers, not IT departments, but this may not be a bad thing for Microsoft."

But the punch to Microsoft's kidneys comes later when Berger takes to the desktop

It's all the things you've heard before: the menus are difficult to access with a mouse and keyboard and are hidden behind the invisible walls of screen edges -- and remote computing is a pain in the posterior, which in an enterprise setting is crucial for PC management and IT support. 

"The decision to move to Windows 8 was a solid business decision to get into the tablet market," he says, but noting his expertise in enterprise desktops, he warns that, "Microsoft forgot about [keyboards and mice] when they designed Windows 8."

Breaking down the numbers, which is more important: Windows 8 satisfaction on tablets, or desktops?

IDC said the worldwide tablet market will rise by near 70 percent to 107.4 million in 2012, IDC says. It's worth noting the vast majority of these figures come from iPads and Android-powered tablets. Windows 8, despite having no current market share in the tablet, isn't expected to leave much of a mark. However, PC sales are expected to remain flat at around 87 million shipments in the third-quarter, says Gartner.

"We don't expect Windows-based tablets to necessarily take share from Apple and Android, but will grow the overall tablet market," said IDC research director Tom Mainelli last month.

It's fair to say that come the New Year, there will be a higher proportion of PCs that all but entirely run Windows than tablets running the upcoming operating system, thanks to the consumer boom around the holiday season. Therefore, there will be more desktop users of Windows 8 than tablet users, leaving a majority scratching their heads and confused as to why Microsoft would make such a desperate move to dump the desktop in favour of a tablet market share grab.

At least on the bright side, Microsoft will support Windows 7 until 2020. Thank your lucky stars for that.

Update on 24 July at 1:00 p.m. BST: The "bad" claims were retracted by Berger, and explained that the words were "taken out of context." You can read the PC Pro interview here, and ZDNet Ed Bott's comments on why Gartner should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Image credit: Simon Bisson/ZDNet.

Topics: Windows, Hardware, Microsoft, PCs

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  • In a word: Usable

    Is Windows 8's Metro UI a huge step forward on a desktop? No, I'd have to say it's not. That said it's also not a step backward. I've been running it on my office laptop, which I use for at least 8 hours a day, since the release of CP. It had no impact on my workflow. At all. All my programs work and I generally stay in the desktop. When accessing my less used programs I can still hit that start key and start typing, which is exactly how I did it with the start menu. Again, no loss...

    The better performance, resume times, improved task manager and native hyper-v are also huge pluses for me.

    Why is remote computing a pain? I'm not getting that statement at all. If you're going to make a statement like that shouldn't you at least back it up with your experience or opinions as to why? I'm not even sure what that means... Does RDP or Citrix not work on Windows 8? Because both are functioning just fine on my installation.

    Overall it seems entirely blown out of proportion. My wife, who is a firm believer in complaining about anything technology related that is different, had no problems adapting and never complained when I put it on her laptop. My daughter, who is 6 years old, had no trouble adapting. So why are technology "experts" having such a hard time adapting to a slightly revised interface? I think that's the better question to answer. End users seem to be adapting to it much easier than IT "Pros" who should be able to adapt to changing technology better than anyone else. Why no article on that?
    • Couldn't agree more

      I kind of see the guys argument as saying the original Nintendo controller (or even Atari) should always be the standard. Sure, those controllers were cutting edge at the time and very simple to learn and use. That said, it limits the user. Most people are able to pick up an XBox 360 or PS3 controller and figure out what does what very quickly. I don't think Windows 8 will be an exception.

      Personally, I don't mind having to scroll to the edge to show menus- it beats having ugly menus on my screen at all times. I actually think people will like having the live-tiles that update them with information that app/program provides without having to launch it. I think people will also really like that they can have nearly the exact same GUI across all their devices, if they so wish.

      Any time someone gets a new OS, even from the same company, there is always some kind of a learning curve so I don't think the last big paragraph is fair. The majority of people use Android smartphones that have a totally different GUI than Windows XP or 7. I know plenty of people that use a Mac at home or work/school and a PC at the other place. For as tech illiterate as the average person can seem, they seem to do just fine for their own requirements learning a new GUI.
      • My point isn't the lack of a learning curve

        Of course there will be a learning curve and perhaps this is one of bigger ones in a Windows transition. My point is that the non-technical users haven't complained and haven't had an issue adapting in the same way that technical users have. I'm a Senior Systems Engineer and it amazes me that IT "Pros" have such a hard time adapting to change.

        Don't get me wrong, I saw it on the move from DOS to Windows 95. I knew many programmers and engineers that swore it would be the worst thing ever.
        • Here's how Real (non-tech) People Will Use Windows 8

          • I've seen those videos

            And those don't reflect what I've seen personally. I can point you to a Youtube video showing how difficult an iPad is to use, doesn't make it true.
          • I agree completely with LiquidLearner

            Adopting to a new OS does take some work, regardless of what the OS is. I still have problems using my girlfriends iPhone and she's had one for 3 years (ever since I got a smartphone a year and a half ago I only use her phone once every other month or so). The fact is, if you have a piece of equipment that you use every day, it will become second nature to you rather quickly. That is true of Windows 8, Windows 7, iOS, Android, Windows Phone (I would include OSX but I've never actually used one enough to actually figure out what the hell is going on, from an unbiased perspective, Ubuntu was much simpler to pick up on than OSX although I don't know if that is because Ubuntu is more similar to Windows or not).
          • And when Ellen Degeneres did a small piece on the dificulty of using

            her iphone, Apple sued her for it.

            So did that video you linked to have a real point to it, beyond showing us someone who is afraid of a little change?
            William Farrel
        • It's not the difficulty in adapting

          It is the unwillingness to change for change's sake. Why fix something that is not broken? Nearly everyone agrees that the Metro look and feel is abysmal on the desktop - why start the experience by getting the "natives" riled up? Could it be because beyond the changed exterior, there is not much difference to notice below?
          • If we are going to completely change it should be an improvement!!!

            Every time Microsoft has overhauled the Windows interface in the past, it has always been a step forward for the desktop. In addition, Microsoft has always been very kind to those who don't like change and have included a classic interface more similar to previous versions of Windows. This is the first time Microsoft has forced such a huge change on the masses as well as not given users the option of a classic interface (Even Windows 95 and 98 had Program Manager and File Manager for Windows 3.1 die-hards). Whats worse about it is this change is only a step forward for touch screen devices. With a keyboard and mouse, its cumbersome, counter-productive, and to put it quite blunt idiotic. Microsoft needs to add an option for desktop users to disable Metro and use the traditional interface. If they don't, they are going to completely alienate the market that is their bread and butter, and if history is any guide, Microsoft may be too late to the party to make any significant impact in the tablet or smartphone market.
          • Using Windows 8 Without a Touch Screen

            I have been using Windows 8 on my laptop since the Consumer Preview was made available. I use my laptop for presentations and classes for members of a large PC User group. The only problem I have had was an incompatibility with my older projector that I have now upgraded.
            Using Windows 8 has not hurt my productivity in preparing the courses or presenting them.
            Using the mouse, the Charms and the Windows key are getting to be second nature. Naturally it takes some time to totally forget the automatic clicks used in Windows 7 but hopefully I will make some of the keyboard shortcuts as automatic as the Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V have become.
            And just in case you are wondering, I am a senior citizen and love chalenges. Learning new things keeps my brain active.
    • Remote Desktop

      Using Win8 via a windowed Remote Desktop or windowed VM is indeed problematic. The "hot corners" are easily overshot. Same goes for multi-monitor setups. I read that they attempted to address these issues in the release candidate (I only tested the original Consumer Preview), but from what I read the solutions were far from perfect.

      The performance improvements are great and might be Win8's "killer feature." I don't think the new UI is the killer feature. I miss Aero and the whole UI is drab and boring and disconcerting. The move to ALL CAPS menu bars is especially irksome.
      • It is a little difficult to use in Remote Desktop

        but that's when you start learning things like Win+C and Win+X, which make life so simple. And Metro isn't a killer feature yet, but if it accelerates it's app market it will be a huge +.
    • Of course you missed the "consumer-friendly" part...

      I have tons of friends who run Windows inside Mac OS X and Linux, but that doesn't mean this setup is for everyone. Neither is Windows 8.

      Although the consumer learning curve is not that bad, the rewards are null if you don't have a touch screen. Yep. I love the task manager and the new explorer, but let's face it, these could have been done without the interface overhaul.

      Now lets imagine the increased IT support costs that will stem from supporting this new build, with negligible benefits. Add to that, that 2013 will surely be a recession year and you have a nightmare, where companies have a reduced budget and an increased support cost from BYOD users.

      With that said, the big problem for Microsoft is that BYOD's that bring an iPad have 6 years of sprint (when they brought their iPhones) and Mac BYODs have an even greater advantage.

      So Windows 8 BYOD's are gonna be odd-ball people which will fit in the same category as Mac users were on the enterprise on the 90's and 00's. In short, they will expect no support at all and lots of bashing not only from PC users but also iPad users.
    • Agreed

      I have used Windows 8 on my main desktop PC for a while now. Being an average user, maybe little above but mainly for gaming hehe, I went in thinking it was going to be difficult because of all the reviews and that I'd read, however it was simple, easy, elegant and different. Windows 8 is pretty enjoyable to use. In the morning before work the new metro start screen has most things I want to see in the morning and it's all simple, it's awesome.

      And then you get a "professional analyst" that says this doodoo? I don't get it. To me it seems like doesn't like change or wants to bum Apple or one of those companies
    • Windows 8 works fine for me

      You are right about what you say. After partitioning my hard drive on my laptop I installed the Win 8 Consumer Preview. I have Office, Photoshop Elements, my browsers (both IE and Firefox), my email (both Thunderbird and Outlook Web Access) and everything works fine. I spend my time on my laptop in Windows 8, only rarely do I boot up in Windows 7. I have figured out how to do everything I need to do, with no problem.
  • I thought Gartner wasn't to be believed?

    I say enough with the speculation, let sales, or lack of sales determine what people want and like.

    Speculation killed so many markets, I'm surprised that these people still do it, or is it that they don't care about too much beyond their own speculations?
    William Farrel
    • Bingo

      Yeah, we're getting to the point where these interminable "Is so! / Is not!" threads about Windows 8 are silly. By the end of October the retailers will know whether Metro sells desktops, prevents the sale of desktops, or doesn't make a difference. In the meantime people can listen to Gartner or the Psychic Friends Network for all the good it will do them.
      Robert Hahn
  • Gartner also says

    that Windows phone will have a greater share of the market than Iphone in 3-4 years...

    Funny that ZD-net selectively uses Gartner when it suits their bias... If you believe Gartner then believe ALL of Gartner.

    Windows 8 is "bad" for desktops... Windows Phone will be a bigger player in mobile than Iphone before you know it...

    Most people would look at the evidence and conclude exactly the opposite I would think.
    widow maker
    • I think Gartner is right

      Anyway according to my preference. I'm anxiously waiting for Windows Phone 8 to switch my current Android. But I'm not looking forward to buying a new PC when Windows 8 will be out...

      Though working with the Release Preview I've been able to completely avoid the Start Screen: Classic Shell is the answer. Once installed, it adds a Start Menu again to the desktop and have a configuration setting to login directly to the desktop, therefore completely avoiding the horrible Start Screen.
      • Why do you need to upgrade your PC?

        From what people say, it seems you won't need to buy a new PC at all to use Windows 8.