Windows 8: Microsoft's New Coke moment

Windows 8: Microsoft's New Coke moment

Summary: The latest operating systems numbers are in, and Windows 8's failure is clearer than ever. Can Microsoft, like Coca-Cola before it, bring victory out of a defeated product launch?


Everyone knows that New Coke was a total disaster for Coca-Cola. Except, of course, that isn't actually what happened. Yes, New Coke, like Windows 8 for Microsoft, was a total market failure, but that wasn't the end of the Coca-Cola story, and Windows 8 may not be the end of Microsoft's Windows tale.

netapps-os-May 2013 540x263
Numbers don't lie: Windows 8 is the New Coke of operating systems..

In Coke's case, the company realized quickly how badly they'd blundered and brought back old Coke as Classic Coke. And, this is the part everyone outside of the soft-drink business forgets, Coca-Cola actually immediately came back stronger than ever. Decades later, the Cola wars are history and Coca-Cola is the winner.

How did Coke do it? They gave people what they wanted: The original "taste." As Coca-Cola chairman and CEO Roberto Goizueta said in 1995, "The most significant result of 'New Coke' by far was that it sent an incredibly powerful signal... a signal that we really were ready to do whatever was necessary to build value for the owners of our business."

I've suggested Microsoft do the equivalent by bringing back the Aero interface and dumping the Metro interface. Does Ballmer have the guts to admit he made a mistake and give users what they clearly want? We don't know. 

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A closer look at those Windows 8 and Windows RT usage numbers

A closer look at those Windows 8 and Windows RT usage numbers

The latest worldwide usage statistics from NetMarketShare are out. What do they say about Windows 8 and Windows RT? Spoiler alert: Don't believe everything you read.

Microsoft knows they need to do something. After all, in our recent ZDNet debate, we weren't arguing if Windows 8 was a failure — it is — but whether Windows 8 could be saved.

How bad are Windows 8 sales? In April 2013's Net Applications numbers, Windows 8 barely crept up to 3.82-percent. That still leaves Windows 8 behind Microsoft's last operating system flop, Vista, after seven months in the market. Windows on tablets fared even worse with touch-screen-based Windows 8 devices and Windows RT devices coming in at 0.02-percent and 0.00-percent each. The last was not a typo. The Surface RT is now in the running for worst Microsoft launch ever.

While it's too late for Windows 8, Blue might give us back our Start button and an Aero-like interface. Or, it might not. We just don't know. All we really know, as Mary Jo Foley pointed out, is that Blue is far more than just Windows 8.1.

Perhaps Microsoft's real Windows revival plan is to wean us off of the traditional desktop PC entirely and replace it with Windows as a service (WaaS): Mohoro. Then, the question stops being, "Can a new version of Windows keep the desktop?" and becomes, "Are you willing to rent Windows on the cloud?"

Me? I'm still sticking with Windows 7, and yes, XP, when I need Windows. Maybe Blue will prove to be Microsoft's Classic Coke moment. For now, I just know that Windows 8 is as "tasty" as the long dead New Coke.

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Topics: Windows, Operating Systems, PCs, Windows 8

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  • Must be nice for Microsoft...

    When their "failure" has more market share than the latest OS X version.
    Big Sparky
    • its an article from SJVN

      Everything is a failure for him if its not based on Linux.
      Throw All The Things
      • au contraire

        He's never said anything bad about BSD.
        • he never said anything bad

          About pizza too. I've heard that he once passed by a BestBuy and he didn't write an article about Windows 8 afterward. I guess he's not completely lost.
          Throw All The Things
          • W8 Metro and Canonical Ubuntu Unity...

            ...are two great examples how companies are making tremendous hazards believing that their understand better than others what kind of UI users should have.

            No wonder why people more likely stay in Windows 7 or Linux Mint (MATE/Cinnamon or even KDE). UI of both Windows 8 and Ubuntu are just teasing people. For Windows folk disaster is even worse because they have less choices than those preferring Linux. However Mark Shuttleworth can't burn his money for ever. Microsoft can do it through this decade i guess so.
          • i think windows 7

            Is dated. Its a good thing that some companies try to break from the old inefficient ways of doing things.
            Throw All The Things
          • Linux/FLOSS saves money ( 5 000 €/desktop/year)

            “Switching a basic government desktop PC configuration to open source, for example, will save some 5000 euro per desktop per year, Cenatic’s model shows. The calculation can be tweaked by changing the figures for migration costs, downtime, maintenance, consultancy and the prices paid for proprietary software licences.The results are shown as graphs, displaying the costs over a five-year period.”

            Napoleon XIV
          • ...

            While you qoute your source correctly, most companies will not be able to save that kind of money per year under any circumstances, because they do not even spend 5000$ per year per desktop without open source.

            I checked the source of the article you mention (spanish spreadsheet) and they have some very interesting numbers. Their setup involves 10 (ten!) users, with 128 OS licenses (each 110€ / year), 110 licenses for "collaborative tools" (each 320€ / 2 years), 20 antivirus licenses (each 100€ / year, the price of a Kaspersky multi-device license), 40 licenses for multimedia design tools (each 320€ / 2 years), 33 development environments (each 320 € / 2 years), and a lump payment of 50'000 € where I couldn't figure out what it is for. Let's by an Enterprise database for that.

            - The software is enough to power a company of close to 100 people, complete with IT department and a few development teams, not just 10 users.
            - Some people might assume free software can not replace this without reduction in productivity. The study assumes productivity to be higher with the open source environment.

            In conclusion the study is done by professionals, but not professionally.
          • Android Linux took 56,5% of tablets (IDC Q1 2013)

            Windows RT..................0.4%
            Others............................ 0.2%

            Napoleon XIV
          • Android's hot

            There were also more Android devices sold in 2012 than Windows devices. Sure, plenty of cheap Android devices, but this is the first time any applications platform has outsold Windows since, well, MS-DOS outsold Windows. And there's some belief that next year, it'll be both Android and iOS outselling Windows, unit-wise anyway.

            At some point, though, software developers are looking at units without caring just how much you paid, but rather, how many users and what they're likely to spend. That's why Microsoft is having so much trouble getting Windows Phone or Windows RT applications written -- real good ones, not quickie web site ports. Too few devices, not enough users. And the table/phone market makes this worse for them, as there are no small market, high dollar applications as there are on the desktop.
          • Another is for developers

            in Windows is the store is a stumbling block. I hear that if you pay the developers fee it's like they allow you to jailbreak and you can bypass the store to get the apps on the devices to test.
          • You nailed it

            Microsoft is clumsily trying to claw its way back into the ecosystem based market. It doesn't seem like there is really a plan to me. It is more like they are throwing stuff up to see what sticks.

            I don't think the solution is to go back to Aero though. Maybe they could sell a few more licenses while, Google, Apple, and Amazon will be more or less giving away devices (maybe even literally) knowing full well that they will sell hundreds of millions in content.
          • RE:

            Windows 7 is dated, but it still does exactly what I want it to do. Yeah, it's definitely a good thing that some companies try to break from the old inefficient ways of doing things. Because of that mentality, we have gone back to something that looks worse than Windows 3.1
          • Backwards to Windows 3.1

            I couldn't agree more, in my rebuttle yesterday, I said they had taken a step about 15 years back, which would quite rightly put us at Windows 3.1
          • ..

            Problem is windows 8 is not efficient it take so much more to do the simple things you could always do and you have to hunt and find secret hidden charms. Ballmer is an idiot which has been proven since he was put in charge everything he has backed has failed. In business you dont go into a chnage knowing the feedback your getting is complete disguist with your idea. With winows metro it failed for 2 years on wp7, during windows 8 beta testing the mass testers loudly proclaimed their distaste for the tiles and then they took the start button and it was pretty much a what the hell are you doing Microsoft moment ?
          • People are greatly exagerating the "challenges" of W8

            My 6 year old niece own a windows 8 laptop and she understood it in no time... I think people are just too lazy to do it or they consider themselves stupider than a 6 yo child. Want it so complicated about it? Have you ever tried Linux? W8 takes you by the hand like a retard child and yet I keep seeing comments like this.
            Simon Tupper
          • Not a good comparison.

            1. Six-year-olds pick up new things like they breathe. Grownups often take a little longer.

            2. Your neice also isn't trying to UNlearn habits she's been honing and reinforcing daily for 18 years (since Windows 95 debuted.)

            3. It's not lazy to object to being asked to abandon an adult lifetime's worth of skills and habits and learn an entirely new set, just so you can continue doing exactly the same things you were perfectly comfortable, happy and productive doing with the old set.

            4. Some of us don't like being led around like retarded children (and working on something that looks like it was put out by Fisher-Price to boot.)

            5. Since I'm here, who the hell gives a six-year-old a laptop anyway? I'm all for giving kids real computers early on, don't get me wrong, but a W8-capable laptop at age six? Unless it's an old clunker that somebody decided to soup up with a new OS (in which case, well done,) somebody's got more money than sense.
          • @Ginevra: Your post is hilarious!

            I love your comment that "It's not lazy to object to being asked to abandon an adult lifetime's worth of skills and habits and learn an entirely new set..."

            Given that the only really substantial change in Windows 8 is the Start Screen replacing the Start Menu, what you are saying is that your ONLY skill is that you know how to use the Start Menu. That's it. You know how to use the Start Menu. Your "adult lifetime's worth of skills" is that you know how to click the Start button and find something on the Start Menu.

            I wonder, how did you post your comments here? If you don't know how to use a web browser and you don't know how to connect a Windows computer to a network and you don't know how to type or use a mouse, it must've been quite a challenge!

            Or maybe you actually have more skills that you realize? Maybe you actually do know more than how to use the Start Menu? Maybe you're just trying to make people think you have such limited skills for some reason? Maybe the truth is that you just like to whine and complain and blow things out of proportion?

            At least you were somewhat correct with your statement that "Grownups of take a little longer" to learn new things. If these forums are any indication, the world is full of "Grownups" who are nearly incapable of learning anything new at all.

          • So clearly, Rick...

   enjoy learning a new way to do things you've done before, even though the new way has no perceptible advantage over the old way.

            Um, I have work to do. Learning a new way to do something without a good reason is pointless, particularly if that new way is obscure and actually more time-consuming.

            Don't you ever get the feeling that MS developers are having a go at us end-users? "Hey, let's see if they can figure *this* one out!! we'll add a few more steps and call the button something else and... oh, make it so they have to swipe from the top of their 24-inch monitor to the bottom..." 8-/
          • I feel that way

            Indeed, it's a prime example of groupthink anyway. They came out super proud of their new shitty OS...
            Maurice Adelmon