HP bringing back Windows 7 PCs? Not so fast...

HP bringing back Windows 7 PCs? Not so fast...

Summary: This morning's tech news headlines are breathlessly reporting that HP is bringing back Windows 7 "by popular demand." The facts say otherwise: HP never stopped selling Windows 7 PCs, and it's actually selling fewer Windows 7 models today than it did last summer.

TOPICS: PCs, Windows

Repeat after me: An advertising slogan is not news.

A few tech journalists need to be reminded of that rule today, after piling on to the story that HP is bringing Windows 7 back “by popular demand.” The proof? This bit of selling copy on the landing page at HP’s Home and Home Office site:


If HP really had bowed to public pressure and brought Windows 7 back after abandoning it, that might be news. But this is nothing new. It’s a clever pitch by HP, not a change in sales strategy.

Under Microsoft’s sales lifecycle, big OEMs like HP can continue to sell Windows 7 PCs until at least October 2014. Every major PC maker takes advantage of that opportunity, continuing to offer a selection of Windows 7 PCs today. In addition, business buyers can purchase a PC with a Windows 8 Pro license and exercise downgrade rights to run Windows 7 instead. That’s a longstanding policy that Microsoft has allowed for more than a decade.

See also:

I know a little bit about this subject, having surveyed the major PC makers last April, six months after the launch of Windows 8. (See Where can you find a PC running Windows 7?) At the time, I wrote:

[Y]ou can still find a Windows 7 PC if you want one. In fact, you have plenty of choices, and you will continue to have choices for a long time — at least until October 2014, more than 18 months from today. You just need to look in the right places. (Spoiler alert: Stores that cater to businesses will be your best bet.)

Nothing has changed since then, especially at HP. A quick check at the Internet Archive finds that the company was never forced to stop selling Windows 7 PCs. In fact, Windows 7 models have routinely been featured at HP.com since the release of Windows 8. Last August and September, for example, this box appeared at the top of HP.com, in the same marquee location where this week's sales blurb is located:


That teaser was on the HP home page for a full week. No one noticed, I guess.

(And don’t let that “limited quantities” wording fool you. That’s a time-honored technique used by marketers to convince you to buy right now. You don’t want to get shut out, do you?)

In fact, HP continued selling Windows 7 PCs from its Home and Home Office website until at least late October. The business sites (Small & Medium Business; Large Enterprise; and Government, Health & Education) have offered Windows 7 PCs continuously. During the holiday season, HP focused its selling to consumers on Windows 8 and 8.1 PCs. It wasn't until a few weeks after the holiday rush ended that the "Windows 7 is back" campaign began.

If you want real proof that HP is simply mixing up its sales pitch, you can look at its mix of products. Like many of its competitors, HP offers filters on its online shopping site that allow you to narrow your search. One of those filters is Operating System. Today, January 20, 2014, that box indicates the mix of different PC models available in the desktop and laptop categories. Thanks to the wonderful folks at the Internet Archive, we can use the Wayback Machine to look at the exact same selection from a previous date and time.

Table: HP's mix of operating systems on PCs sold online 

Operating System August 2013 January 2014
 Android   1
 Chrome OS 
 Windows 7
 Windows 8.x  31  35 
 Windows 7 
 Windows 8.x  30  33 

Those numbers are not a mistake. In January 2014, HP offers a total of 5 PCs running Windows 7 and 68 running Windows 8 or 8.1. Last summer, HP offered 8 Windows 7 PCs and 61 Windows 8 models. Back by popular demand? Not exactly.

That makes headlines like "HP was forced to start selling Windows 7 again" unintentionally hilarious.

Under Microsoft's support lifecycle (which is separate from its sales lifecycle), Windows 7 is in mainstream support for another year and in extended support for five years after that, until 2020. Businesses, which are historically conservative about OS upgrades, have continued to buy and deploy Windows 7 PCs while Windows 8 models predominate in retail sales channels.

In 2013, HP's PC business stumbled badly, with worldwide sales down 10.3 percent and U.S. sales down 9.4 percent according to IDC's just-released Worldwide PC Tracker report. That's in contrast to Lenovo, which overtook HP as the top seller of PCs worldwide last year with an annual sales increase of 2.7 percent worldwide and a rise of 17.5 percent in the United States.

Topics: PCs, Windows

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  • It's a PR stunt...

    HP knows that there are a lot of businesses out there running XP that need to upgrade soon... but are probably terrified of Windows 8 (due to unfairly negative media coverage, in my opinion)... so HP is trying to woo them with "Windows 7" PCs.

    I guess they don't blame them. HP needs all the help it can get. After all, it's Windows 8 hardware doesn't measure up to Microsoft's, Lenovo's or Dell's.
    • I didn't think of it from that point of view...

    • Serves them right...

      So after HP executives came out and criticized Windows 8... they find themselves having a hard time selling their Windows 8 PCs. Serves them right... lol
    • HP "shot itself in the foot" several years ago and ...

      ... has been slowly "bleeding out" ever since.

      They still make the best professional-grade printers I the world, but their consumer products are poor, at best.

      Large corporations are still saddled with baby boomers (of which I am one) who fear change. They go through CEOs like a hot knife through butter. If they don't fire their CEOs, they leave - rather than being micromanaged.
      M Wagner
      • CORRECTION: That should read ...

        Large corporation boards are still saddled with baby boomers (of which I am one) who fear change.
        M Wagner
    • I don't know about that

      I was impressed with the Envy. Gave to my boss when his netbook keyboard crapped out and he hasn't shown any willingness to give it up, and I haven't even upgraded it to 8.1, yet.

      In the past I would say "yes" to that, but now, the Envy is a very nice piece of hardware, and shows they can make stuff that measures up, if they want.
    • Thank You

      I Have looked at their win 8 tablets on new egg and they only offer an atom as their best model.

      For the same price Samsung and even M$ offers core i5 processors with 2x as much hd space..

      Look at a Dell Venue 8, Hp has nothing to compete with that on the low end either..

      a Chrome book is $279... withing 20 of a low cost windows 8 laptop (with higher specs)

      no wonder your sales are crap
  • Those Chromebooks...

    ... Must be doing them good.

    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • It must be because of evil chromebooks

      Because many will stop buying HP laptops the moment they discover they are also making chromebooks... Not.

      Not sure if you want to establish a connection between poor sales when companies also sell chromebooks, if yes, I must confess my ignorance and say - I don't get it.
      Can someone explain? Thanks :-)
  • Inventory clearance?

    Maybe they just want to get rid of the OEM licenses for Win7 they already paid for. I doubt they print their own COA stickers and send Microsoft a bill at the end of each month for units actually shipped, but I could be wrong.
    • Or

      it could be people like me who complained to HP about their lack of Windows 7 systems.
  • Perhaps...

    Perhaps if HP invested their R&D dollars in making decent Windows 8 touch and hybrid devices like Lenovo and Dell (!) instead of wasting it on Android AIOs, low margin Chromebooks and Android tabs then they might not be losing PC market share so fast.

    Where is the HP 8" Windows 8 tablet?

    Ask Acer how Android and Chromebooks is working out for them...
    • HP CEO, you're fired

      They really need to sack HP CEO. Lacks imagination and definitely out of it. Android desktop in the same price as proper PC?!!
      • HP has had more CEOs in the last 20 years than ...

        ... Carter has little liver pills. The problem is that HP's Board refuses to let their most innovative CEOs do their thing. Instead, they micromanage them and then blame them for the Board's own mismanagement. THEN they fire them. This is a HP Board problem - not unlike the Boards of most large, long-standing, corporations.
        M Wagner
    • And selling windows boxes are high margin ?

      Get a grip.

      PS ask Acer how their windows business is doing, last time I looked it was :

      "Acer has reported a net operating loss of NT$8.218 billion (US$274 million) for the fourth quarter of 2013 mainly due to unsatisfactory sales performance, a loss of NT$1.3 billion for inventory depreciation, mainly ultrabook and touch-screen notebook components,"
      Alan Smithie
      • I also agree

        I haven't seen any evidence that profit margins for traditional PCs is something to rave about when you're not Apple.
        • Apple does not pursue enterprise customers, or high-volume sales.

          They only seek out customers who will pay premium prices for style-over-substance.
          M Wagner
      • It depends. The margins on consumer PCs are razor thin ...

        ... but enterprise sales are lucrative, high-margin sales. The average consumer spends between $300 and $500 for a PC. The average corporation spends between $800 and $1000 on a desktop PC and they spend thousands of dollars on even a base-line blade server.

        In addition, the average consumer accepts the one-year warranty as "good enough" but the enterprise buys three-to-give years of Next Business Day on-site warranty service.

        To the consumer, down-time is an inconvenience. To the enterprise, downtime is lost productivity. Whether the enterprise thinks in terms of total cost of ownership (TCO) or return on investment and time equals money. Downtime is lost money.
        M Wagner
    • Ask Acer ........

      Chromebooks are doing just fine thanks, ......Android I Don't know.......

      i do agree, though that Acer should invest in more Windows 8 systems.
      • chromebooks doing well?

        As today in statcounter chrome Os account for a tenth of one percent of worldwide share, considering that windows RT, that according pundits is a failure, is trailing chrome Os by four hundredths of one percent, I cannot say the chromebooks are doing well.