The love affair with Windows 8-powered hybrids is over before it started

The love affair with Windows 8-powered hybrids is over before it started

Summary: Microsoft built Windows 8 around the new touch user interface, but it seems that consumers are quite attached to their keyboards and mice.

TOPICS: Windows 8, Hardware, PCs

Windows 8 is built around the premise that people want to interact with their PC through touch, but deep discounts of Windows 8-powered hybrids at the Microsoft Store suggest that the love affair with these devices is already at an end.

(Image: Windows)

The discounts are highlighted on ZDNet's sister site CNET, and they're very deep discounts indeed, with the price of the Toshiba Satellite U925T-S2130 Convertible Ultrabook slashed by almost 35 percent. No matter how you look at it, cuts like that are huge, and are bound to raise a few eyebrows.

This isn't the only sign that things aren't going well with the Windows 8 sales machine. Last month, IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell told CNET that Windows 8 PC sales had "horribly stalled", and IDC expected computer shipments to fall by 1.3 percent this year, after it had initially predicted a 2.8 percent rise.

And this decline comes on top of an even more precipitous 3.7 percent fall that the industry experienced in 2012.

And I'm hearing unofficial conformation of this from sources within OEMs, too. The hope that Windows 8 would reinvigorate PCs sales has evaporated, and makers are now resigned to the fact that desktops and notebooks are going to be sitting around gathering dust as consumers choose instead to spend their money on smartphones and tablets.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again — touch on traditional desktops and notebooks is a solution looking for a problem to fix. Microsoft had touch support built into Windows for years, and consumers didn't care about it then, and it seems that outside of devices such as Microsoft's own Surface, people don't care about it now, either.

As far as new classes of devices are concerned — devices such as hybrids and convertibles — the problem with these is that they're embryonic. While people were fast to embrace devices such as the iPhone and iPad, consumers haven't been so enthusiastic when it comes to tweaked versions of PCs. To most people, a PC is either a desktop or a notebook, and it seems that devices that blur the lines between desktops, notebooks, and tablets are making people nervous.

Microsoft bet the farm on touch with Windows 8, and so far it seems that the bet hasn't paid off. While I think that Microsoft certainly needed a response to iOS and Android, shoehorning an entire touch-based user interface into an operating system primarily designed to be driven by a keyboard and mouse made little sense to me at the time it was unveiled, and it seems that it makes little sense to buyers either. Windows RT makes sense — if Microsoft can convince people to buy the hardware — as does a touch mode for the full version, but forcing the interface on everyone was a step too far. No one in their right mind wants to trade a new user interface in exchange for a massive workflow hit.

Just to be clear here, though, PC sales were stagnating even before Windows 8 came on the scene, so the operating system is not entirely to blame for the state of the market now, but the operating system did nothing to help revive the industry.

The PC is dying, and it doesn't look like Windows 8 is going to save it.

Topics: Windows 8, Hardware, PCs

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Another AKH crap article

    What a moronic article. AKH has published an SJVN class article... probably Zdnet has cut AKH's pay in recent months due to lack of clicks....
    • Can't be that things aren't actually going well, can it?

      No, he's just a moron and its all peachy keen for MS. Must be a painful time to be an MS fanboy.
      • 25 million Win 8 licences are sold each month

        Get a clue, iDumbDumb....
        • And how many are being given away for free?

          My brother just purchased a Lenovo desktop with Windows 7 Pro 64. When it arrived I thought it was a mistake as it had a Windows 8 Pro sticker on it. Also, it came with two Windows 8 recovery disks and one Windows 8 media disk but no Windows 7 recovery disks. Is this what is happening with all those licenses companies bought of Windows 8.? Are they being given away for free?
          Arm A. Geddon
          • I doubt MS would care.

            I wouldn't care if you bought something from me, then gave it away for free. I still make my money.

            Stores do that all the time as incentives. It sounds like your brother purchased the Lenovo at retail price because he was getting a free Windows 8 upgrade. He could have gone somewhere else, but he didn't, so it sounds like it worked.

            Oh, and the "No Windows 7 disks"? It's likely one of those systems where the first thing you do is create a recovery DVD.
            William Farrel
          • He purchased at retail.

            Online at Bestbuy. He wanted a computer without Windows 8. And of course, I do the setup and that's how I found out. Actually, I was the one who picked out out for him too. I'm just wondering if that's how other companies are getting people to upgrade to Windows 8.

            I'll agree with you too on a "sale is a sale."

            Btw, I always clone my drives whether it's Microsoft, Apple, Linux, etc.
            Arm A. Geddon
          • You do know this was happening with Windows 7 too?

            Or have you conveniently forgotten that?
            Even with Win 7 there was about a 6 to 12 month period where you ccould by Win XP Pro and get the free Win 8 disk's. Sold for businesses who needed backward comparability.
          • Re: You do know this was happening with Windows 7 too?

            No it didn't. Windows 8 is doing WORSE at this point in its cycle than even Windows Vista was at a similar point.
          • can you add???

            How you people keep trying to compare market share win8 to vista keep missing the most important factor market share is based on total devices in the market vista the total marletshare was only 1 to 1.2billion pcs not there 1.2billion so that would make vista not doing as well as win 8 by a large margin.. learn how to calculate before you make stupid comments..
          • @ rruffman1

            Can you talk???

            Or are run-on sentences and lack of capitalization your strong suits. I mean you sound like a drunken sailor without the swear words.

          • Yeah, but

            As much as I dislike MS, that doesnt mean anything (Win8 vs Vista adoption). Vista was rolled out in a much stronger PC sales marketplace. I forget if the iPad was even out then. Now, PC sales are in the crapper by comparison.
          • Re: Now, PC sales are in the crapper by comparison.

            And why are PC sales in the crapper? You don't think Windows 8 is a factor in that?
          • Lies.

            There were thousands of PCs on the market that had windows xp/vista and came with a free upgrade to windows 7. You're full of crap.
          • I second that

            FULL of ****!
          • Yeah but they didn't have the bargain basement sales

            ...back then like they do now. There was only a small window of opportunity to get a free copy of windoze 7.

            I think this thing with their new tinker-toy OS will last much longer.
          • Not sure where your infomation from

            But YES it did, as I sold quite a few which we had to do our research and order in.
            Only stopped doing it when we couldn't source them any-more! But your free to believe anything you want if it make you happy.
          • Worse than Vista

            but better than XP, strangely enough.
            Michael Alan Goff
        • Yes they are

          and the vast majority of them for non-touch devices, which is why it is so puzzling that Microsoft insists on a touch first, mouse and keys second interface.
          • MS doesn't insist on touch first.

            All they've done is offered touch, along with a mouse and a keyboard. The accesory I bought with my touch screen laptop was a mouse. I also use that mouse 98% of the time compared to the touchscreen.
    • A little unfair ...

      It's not a great article, but Windows 8 hasn't so far been a runaway success and the first wave of hybrid devices included many turkeys like the now-discounted Toshiba convertible. AKH draws unwarranted inferences from discounting of poorly designed devices. It would be interesting to apply the same logic to pricing and sales of Chromebooks.

      MS and Google are both playing a much longer game which none of us will be in a position to judge until this time next year.