Windows 8 demand: Reading the tea leaves

Execs say early response to Windows 8 is positive, but it's unclear whether that reaction turns to demand. The jury is out based on e-commerce site spot checks.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Technology and retail executives say that they are optimistic about the early demand for Windows 8, but checks of e-commerce sites tell a more nuanced story.

Staples CEO Ron Sargent said the early response to Windows 8 has been positive, but didn't comment beyond a few days in the company's third quarter. Sargent said:

Similar to the trends we saw during the second quarter, demand for computers and software remained weak during the third quarter ahead of Windows 8. Throughout Q3, we spent a lot of time preparing for the launch. Since August, we have remodeled about 1500 of our stores to improve our technology presentation and assortment and we now have over 4000 Microsoft-certified advisors. Our associates can assist customers with one-on-one training and equip them with the knowledge necessary to use the great features of this new software platform. And while we only had two days of Windows 8 sales in our third-quarter results, the early response from our customers has been positive and we look forward to continued momentum from Windows 8 throughout the holiday season.

On Dell's third quarter earnings conference call, Steve Felice, chief commercial officer, said:

With the launch of Windows 8 we have new tablets and convertibles including the XPS 10, XPS 12 and latitude 10. In addition we have to touch enabled all-in-one desktops. While it is too early to share specific demand numbers we're encouraged by the initial customer interest in our touch enabled computing.

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However, it's unclear whether interest turns into demand. A questionable survey highlighted by USA Today finds that consumers are wary of Windows 8. And a spot check of e-commerce sites highlights a few oddities. For instance, Amazon's most popular laptops are Google Chromebooks and Apple MacBooks. Windows 8 barely surfaces in the top 10, but and isn't lighting up the charts. Granted, this isn't a scientific survey but you'd expect something stronger out of the gate.




The takeaway from Amazon's listings is this: Retailers are clearing out Windows 7 laptops first. Amazon's most popular laptops include Chromebooks, MacBooks and a handful of Windows 7 devices. Amazon's most popular tablets don't include Windows 8 devices in general.

On NewEgg, the top selling laptop is a Windows 7 Dell. No. 2 is a Sony Vaio with Windows 8.

Best Buy's site features a bevy of Windows 8 laptops and devices, but doesn't sort gear by best sellers. As for the brick and mortar stores, Best Buy's Windows 8 area is relatively sparsely attended relative to its space devoted to Apple.

Bottom line: Windows 8 demand may largely depend on the Black Friday weekend.

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