Just how much do people hate Windows 8?

Just how much do people hate Windows 8?

Summary: Some of you don’t like Windows 8. And thanks to Internet comments and social media, you have lots of ways to express your loathing. But a closer look at one well-known real-world rating says Windows 8 might be more popular than you think.

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TOPICS: Windows 8
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Windows 8 might be the most polarizing product that Microsoft has ever introduced.

In fact, it might be one of the most polarizing tech products to ever see the light of day.

There’s no question that Windows 8 has a large number of outright haters. It’s even inspired comparisons with the much-loathed Windows Vista.

But it’s hard to tell whether that outpouring of anger is simply the echo chamber amplifying a vocal minority or whether it truly represents a widespread negative opinion.

So instead of guessing, I went looking for data. And I found it in a familiar place: the product pages of Amazon.com, where thousands of Windows upgraders in the past six years have left ratings (on the familiar scale of 1 to 5 stars) and detailed feedback about their purchase.

I went through more than 3000 ratings for upgrade versions of the three most recent versions of Windows and tallied those ratings to measure the love/hate rating for each one. (For details on methodology, see the end of this post.)

The verdict?

Windows 8 is indeed less popular than Windows 7, which has very high approval ratings. But it’s far more popular than Windows Vista, which was well and truly hated.

Here’s the story, in one easy chart that uses the same format as Amazon’s ratings:

amazon-windows-ratings-by-version-620px

A few conclusions leap off that chart.

In my experience, a 4- or 5-star rating is a solid thumbs-up. A rating of 2 or 3 stars means “Meh.” And a 1-star rating is the equivalent of a raised middle finger. If you read the reviews that accompany 1-star ratings, you’ll find equal parts rage and buyer’s remorse.

By that standard, Windows Vista is a world-class villain, an object of scorn and ridicule, with 42 percent of all reviewers giving it the lowest possible rating.

By contrast, a mere 17 percent of Windows 7 reviewers hated it enough to award it a one-finger salute. And Windows 8 was right smack in the middle of those two, with 29 percent of reviewers giving it just 1 star.

Slightly more than 50 percent all Windows 8 buyers like it. That’s less than the whopping 67 percent approval rating for Windows 7, but far beyond the puny 38 percent of Vista buyers who gave it a thumbs-up vote.

In fact, as a measure of how deeply despised Vista was, note that the number of 1-star ratings was higher than the total of 4- and 5-star ratings. That’s not the case at all with the more recent versions.

The average rating for Windows 7 on Amazon’s 1-5 scale is 3.7. Compare that with the very poor 2.7 rating for Windows Vista. Once again, Windows 8 is right smack in the middle of those two, earning an average rating of 3.2.

For the sake of comparison, I looked at the most recent version of OS X that Amazon sold. Apple sells the newer Lion and Mountain Lion online only, but Snow Leopard, which was released around the same time as Windows 7, is only marginally more popular than its Windows rival. Snow Leopard earns an average rating of 3.9, compared to Windows 7’s 3.7. And, you know, "haters gonna hate.” For the proof, note that 14 percent of Snow Leopard buyers gave the Apple OS a 1-star rating. That's only 3 points lower than the "I hate Windows 7" score.

I suspect that none of these conclusions are surprising to the Microsoft managers and product planners who released Windows 8. They had to know that some of their design decisions were going to be unpopular. People don’t like it when you move their cheese. Time will tell if those customers move elsewhere or slowly come around.

There's certainly precedent for a version of Windows to improve its approval rating over time. I've argued before that Windows 8 and Windows XP share some striking similarities in their initial hostile response (see "Windows 8 is the new Windows XP"). Windows XP might be remembered fondly now, but it took a while for Microsoft customers to feel that love. Here are the ratings from Amazon for the original release of Windows XP and for Windows XP Service Pack 2, which was a major update:

amazon-xp-ratings-by-version-620px

In its initial release, Windows XP wasn't exactly loved, and its overall approval rating at Amazon remained below 3.5 throughout its life. Windows XP's 57 percent total of 4- and 5-star ratings isn't much higher than what Windows 8 is earning today. And the number of haters actually increased slightly with the SP2 update. Like I said, haters gonna hate. 

One other encouraging note, from Redmond’s perspective, is that there have been more ratings for Windows on Amazon in the first five months of its existence than Windows 7 has garnered in 3-1/2 years. That suggests a phenomenal level of interest.

If this were a political race, a 50 percent overall approval rating would be a solid base from which to start. In this product category, it indicates a product that needs some attention. Microsoft’s announced plan to release more frequent updates like Windows Blue, due later this year, gives it an opportunity to deal with some of the criticisms. But it’s uncertain whether Windows 8 can ever achieve the popularity of its predecessor, which suggests that Windows 7 will be around for a long, long time.

Notes on methodology: I gathered ratings from Amazon.com on March 31, 2013, for the following products, all in retail boxed upgrade packaging: Windows 8 Pro; Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate; Windows Vista Home Premium (original and SP1), Business, and Ultimate; and Windows XP Home and Professional (both original and SP2).

Topic: Windows 8

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  • Windows 8

    Its how OS should have been a few years ago. Its so easy to use. My 6 year old picked it up within the hour of having it. Everyone who I know who has it, think its fantastic. Its different, its new, but its advanced progress. It leaves other OS behind.
    jblakem007@...
    • You are joking....

      Please tell me you are joking. :))
      mytake4this
      • You are joking....

        Please tell me you are joking. :))
        Blogsworth
        • Joking?

          Unlike most here I am 60, a techie, owned every OS, and settled on DOS and DRDos back in the 80s. I hated the mouse and Word, preferring my Wordstar keyboard command processor.

          It is apparent many debate from ignorance and hearsay on this thread. I bought four $14.99 licenses for W8 pro and the free Media center during the promo period. Clean installed it on my laptop with SSD and max RAM which screamed. I did a "keep all data and apps" upgrades on my three W7 desktops. It worked surprisingly well and even our pre W7 HP Printer and Quicken 2011 worked great on it. The tiles and Apps were "meh" without touch so I installed Classic shell. I reverted the two main desktops to W7 by reinstalling the original drives. See I cloned the W7 systems, installed the working clones, and upgraded them so I could easily and quickly start over or revert.

          I had a Galaxy Tab 10.1 and still have Galaxy Smartphones. Google makes nothing but data mining privacy invading slick looking programs but I am getting away from them and hoped W8 would be it. I bought a Surface RT tablet with keyboard for our second tablet. My first W8 touch device opened my eyes to W8 and faster than with Android I was using the tiles more than the desktop and the Office offered there. I then bought the HP Envy X2 full W8 hybrid. It is an 11" notebook that converts to a tablet. Suffice it to say this is a beautiful design and must be used to believe, other wise the hot docking and dual batteries and full size keyboard, as well as SD card slots in both the tablet and keyboard, will not be appreciated.

          Without a touch tablet with W8 it was clumsy at best. When this is docked it is faster to type on, but I don't find myself trying to touch the screen, rather popping it away from the keyboard and using it as the large light perfect for me tablet.

          I sold the laptop and the Galaxy Tab, and now am ordering the Logitech glass W8 touchpad for my desktop, and going back to W8 there too.

          I love W8. The only reason I reverted was because of driver issues with newer Lenovo desktops they claimed were W8 compatible. Similar to the Vista debacle (I still detest Vista), much of the issues are from hardware manufacturers dragging their feet . . . again!

          W8 with Classic Shell installed is W7 as far as my non techie wife is concerned. If some of you actually owned W8 you would know this. But honestly, until I got a full W8 touch tablet, no way did I understand or use it. It is very easy and intuitive. Assuming you actually have it.

          The old saw was everybody hates Cadillacs, until they can afford one. If you can't afford a new system or a touch pad full 8 one fine! If you want to take your ball and bat and go home terrific!

          As Mr. Bott's excellent research indicates, many of us do really love the new OS.
          AreV
          • Still does not matter

            Can't buy any computer with anything but Windows 8.
            Linux and/or OS X don't count.
            radu.m
          • You can get new PCs with Windows 7

            This is false. I just bought a new PC last week and the builder offered Windows 7 or 8, all versions.

            I chose Windows 7.
            Jan Barnick
          • custom order

            yes you can,go into dells web site and build one up.

            as to the love and hate part, i'm age 65 ready to hang up working yet have now down graded with retail copys 185 store purchased boxes to windows 7, even stuck umbuntu on a few. even went and installed larger hd's into some xp machines.

            offices reason seem simple,8 is not working for them,
            charlieg1
          • Win 8 does work

            If Win 8 doesn't work for you I suggest you haven't learned how to use it by being lazy, and not using tutorials or other training methods. We have not found anything at our office that Win 8 cannot support, and 8 is faster and more reliable. Over 100 users soon to be converted.
            bttlk
          • Does Windows 8 work for me?

            Hmm....let's see. If I launch a windows application (fully spelled out instead of the cutesie term 'app') from the new finger friendly interface I usually end up in a window on the depreciated desktop. How really redundant is that!

            If I am using an 'app' and make the wrong gesture, I get pushed to the next open app in the queue. (Kind of an irritation.) Oh, and something as tame as turning the PC off is obfuscated in some dumbly named feature called the Charms bar or menu or what have you. Then you have to drill down into the power setting to turn the PC off. Really, MS has yet to design a proper way to turn a PC off in all their GUI designs.

            Why do I need to use a clunky finger interface in the first place when I produce work with a mouse and keyboard?

            Great, the new OS works fast and crashes less! Please just give me a single desktop to work from. Figure a better way to make the desktop friendly to fingers while avoiding unintentional inputs when working within an application. And please! If I want a cute os platform to use, I'll use it on a tablet. Just remember many of us use PCs for other than entertainment value like work. Keep it efficient MS!
            Couldless
          • win 8 does work

            Idiot stop whining about how the win 8 apps don't work for you, you don't have to use them in fact they don't really interfere with normal desktop operations in other words you can actually use your win 8 as a win 7. "Avoiding unintentional input" that's just a very stupid thing to say because in my 3 months of using win 8 on my laptop in the desktop mode i never face such hilarious problem you claim to face. Have you even tried to use it or you just sit down watch idiotic people like you on youtube whining about their failure to understand how an os as basic as win 8 works.
            osadamola
          • YOU ARE SO WRONG

            fucked up windows From an Idiot that cannot make W 8 work after three months of trying!!

            But I had no issues with W7 or XP or many of the other updates!!
            Ian Foster
          • Win8 Works For Me, Shouldn't It Work For You?!

            I've upgraded to Windows 8 on a notebook that originally had WinVista and later Win7. To the nay-saying ZDers on here, if Win8 does not work for ya'll, stick with Windows 7.
            SoftBankColumbia
          • Clueless

            Your handle should be clueless. Seriously, I'm like the older people, a tad younger though. I adapted to Win 8 in about 5 minutes. The ONE direct person I know that does not like Win 8 is the one person that should not have a TV remote much less a computer.
            Look, Win 8 got a bad rap for NO REASON!!! The babies and whiners that are jealous of Microsoft's success and those that want freeware and open source software cried their way into the news. But interestingly these same people like Android, a terrible and cludgy OS that should have been laughed out of existence if people weren't so bent on ripping Microsoft apart. Ah yes, This has been the story around Microsoft for a long time.

            When you and the rest of the haters club get a clue, give Win 8 a try for real, learn it, and then talk to those who know!
            135boom
          • And how many new languages have YOU learned?

            Or are you just lazy? I learned Spanish in high school and German and French in middle age. I got along quite well in Germany, France and Mexico. I also designed, at one time or another, almost every circuit used in computers. I DON"T LIKE WIN 8. I HATE CUTESY. WIN 8 IS CUTESY!!!
            robapacl@...
          • Logic error

            Assuming expertise in an unrelated field implies authority in another. To illustrate: I should get Tiger Woods as my medical doctor.
            maszsam@...
          • How many languages?

            if you dessigned every circuit we use in the world.. then why do you use win8,7 or something like that?

            I think you are very high in drugs...
            beau parisi
          • well done

            well said buddy. win 8 is awkward and too fancy.
            kelv1969
          • Right

            First off, I don't believe a word you wrote. Second, I doubt you designed what you say you did. Third, if you did design you would know that one does not necessarily make the other better.

            Finally, cutesy? Win8 is not cutesy. It is usable, smooth, fast, and fresh!
            135boom
          • Windows 8 is geared toward tablets...

            I hate Microsoft and their ideal of a GUI interface... if they'd just leave it to the K3B and Gnome guys that they pull all their "ideas" from and stuck to the Windows Classic look, there probably wouldn't be as much discussion or hate. Well, unless they push out another Windows 98/ME/Vista.

            I have seen Windows 8 and played on it, you shouldn't have to learn a GUI interface it should be straight forward. Zunes didn't do as well as iPods, because they lack the simplicity and straight-forwardness that Apple seems to have always gotten.

            Taking away the start menu / downplaying the desktop, that has been around forever was a bold and user-losing move on Microsoft's part. From a web designer standpoint, I do not want to have to touch my screen to utilize my desktop computer to the fullest.

            How can it be faster if you have to buy a program to get a start menu? I dunno, processing time is half the battle of speed, the other half is the ability to get where you need to go without jumping through hoops. I know what Microsoft is doing is an ambivalent discussion of good or evil always, with pushing the bar, forcing upgrades, cutting down backsupport, bloatware, all that stuff.

            To be completely honest, I see Microsoft as lazy... no one pushes out as much crap as quickly as they do. Therefore, any "new" features are all usually gimmicks that normal users just didn't know about, wrapped in a shiny new package and brought to light.

            So, tell me how an obvious touchscreen based GUI system is going to aid me in anyway shape or form, when it comes to programming or web design. Using stubby fingers and having people touch all over my screen to use my computer? No thank you, very inaccurate as compared to a laser mouse.

            All Microsoft does is push and push and push, that leaves no room for their programmers to have actual time to create... more so duplicate or re-package the old as new.

            To be honest, in my opinion, Windows 2000 / XP / 7 were the only actually solid user-friendly operating systems they have made. I'm not switching to a tablet, I'm not switching to a touch screen. So how could Windows 8 benefit me, if I have to learn my way around an obvious touchscreen-oriented GUI system on a keyboard/mouse?

            I've always hated Microsoft's "mobile" operating systems, because well, they're just crappy. So, why would I want to see that crap on my desktop? It's like a re-vamped BOB, haha.
            Jeff Foosebook
          • YOU ARE ON ANOTHER PLANET

            In my humble opinion.. 15 years on all types of computer but W8 beat me..
            Ian Foster