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The Numbers Do Not Lie, But They Don't Always Tell a Good Story, Either...

For some time now, Microsoft’s radical redesign of the Windows 8 user interface has raised the question of whether the new operating system will fare more like Windows Vista (which is to say poorly) or like Windows XP or 7 (which is to say, like gangbusters). Microsoft’s relentless rah-rahs and never-ending hype to the contrary, the numbers make a case that Windows is moving into the market more like Vista than like those, more popular sibling versions of Windows. No sources for numbers for such discussions are more popular, or more frequently cited, than those from NetMarketShare, which shows the following breakdown for Internet users by percentages this morning for Desktop Operating System Market Share:

At present rates of uptake, Windows 8 trails Vista usage levels 3-4 months post GA date.

At present rates of uptake, Windows 8 trails Vista usage levels 3-4 months post GA date.
Image credit: Netmarketshare Desktop Operating System Market Share

Paul Thurrott states this case very well in his recent WindowsITPro article “Windows 8 Sales: Hot or Not?” (where he also points out, quite correctly, that even though Net Applications labels these numbers as representing market share, they actually represent usage share because those numbers are drawn from an analysis of Internet users; all the copies of Windows 8 that have been sold but not yet installed or which aren’t being used aren’t counted by such measurement techniques). Usage rates for Windows 8 are climbing month to month, but very slowly which causes Thurrott to observe that Windows 8’s “… usage share after one quarter trails that of Windows Vista at a similar time after its 2007 launch.”

On the other hand, Microsoft continues to tout that Windows 8 has “sold 60 million copies” (though I’ve been seeing that number since late January, so one wonders why it’s not already 70 or 80 million). The company claims this is on part with Windows 7, which sold at a steady 20 million copies per month for nearly three years. And as Thurrott points out “…there are … questions about Microsoft’s numbers, which always represent sales to PC makers and into the channel and not sales to end users.”

Finally, Thurrott isn’t ready to call Windows 8 a “debacle” just yet, but he does confess to being worried, given that Windows 8 should have a much bigger sales base than Windows 7, because it covers mobile devices, especially tablets (and possibly even smartphones, if you buy the idea of Windows 8 Phone as just another version of Windows 8). And so far, that bigger potential mostly remains unrealized. Do I think this is cause for concern? Yes, I do, but I don’t think it’s a death knell for Microsoft, either.

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Windows 8 will fair like Vista did.  It is almost unusable as a mouse and keyboard interface.  People in the office do not use a touch screen, they use a mouse and keyboard.  For some reason, Microsoft saw fit to eliminate access to the start menu, and whoever made that decision should be fired.  Without the start menu, Windows 8 is really only usable on a touch screen, which most people do not and will not use in the office.
I wish W8 would succeed because it would be good for the user, good for MS, and by extension good for me as a long time Windows user. Success can only come by good engineering which convinces the marketplace W8 is better than W7 enough to justify the learning curve and cost of transition. The marketplace doesn't look convinced. I am certainly not convinced. Marketing and hype can only accomplish so much if engineering isn't there. It is particularly important for UI engineering to match what is under the hood. I believe MS has done well under the hood but lost us with the UI. When will they learn that the backbone of their business is the people who do business? They will lose us chasing after the glamorous Apple image. MS, please help us to stay productive by adding features carefully without destroying familiarity with what we already use. I believe (and hope) MS will pick up after this latest of a series of stumbles and dazzle us again, as they have done before, with a product that will serve our needs well enough to jump on it. Hurry up!  
I'm tired of reading comments like beardba28 who says Win8 " almost unusable as a mouse & keyboard interface."  It's absolutely NOT true.  I've been using MS OSes for over 20+ years (Win2x).  I've been a fulltime IT Pro for 17 years.  I have three machines at my desk I use for administration of a very busy & complex network (locally & remotely).  One is an XP Pro machine I rarely use; one is a Win7 machine & the other a Win8 machine.  The Win8 machine is used more than the Win7.  I could use it exclusively if not for a couple of applications that don't play well with Win8 (VMware Client v5 for example).  I have two 24" LED monitors connected to the Win8 machine; one is a touch monitor.  I dislike intensely trying to use the 24" touch screen.  I tried doing it exclusively for 3 weeks before giving up & going back to a mouse|keyboard.  Since doing that I am every bit as productive with the Win8 machine as I ever was with either my Win7 or XP Pro machine.  I have found the Win8 machine to be superior in several areas over the Win7 machine.  It's a superb OS ever bit as good (better) than anything MS has offered to date.  But -- it is different & takes time to get used to it.  Once you've gotten past the learning curve I'll be surprised it it doesn't become your primary machine as it has mine.  So don't give this crap about it not being usable with a mouse & keyboard.  NOT TRUE.
i totally disagree with Whainswo... he may be a microsoft certified professional and again he's a IT guy. So tackling IT related issues with operating system for him may be a no Brainer. However, for the common office user who have over a period of time come to understand the naunces of Windows OS and learnt to tackle everyday issues, the Windows 8.0 is nothing but sheer frustration... moreover, it has made things do complicated. just to site an example. All my picture have to be in the pictures library only else i will have to take a complicated route to view them. One needs to remember here, that god forbids u need to reinstall windows and forget to copy the pictures, then be prepared to say goodbye to your life long cherished memories.... Please note this is very life with microsoft for a common office user.
The contest over Win8 always comes back to the GUI. You can choose to short-circuit that debate simply by installing a start menu replacement like Start8 (Stardock Software) or Classic Shell (SourceForge). I have done this myself, and although I do occasionally use touch (my 9-year-old loves it, and uses the mouse and keyboard with the Modern UI without complaint, probably because he doesn't know any better) I happily work at the desktop all day long using Start8 myself. Thurrott's observations -- and mine -- about improvements to Win8 are valid, and it's one of those situations where individual preferences and proclivities will add up to an overall market consensus on the future of this troubled OS. It's certainly not clear that Win8 is a success by any stretch, but from a technical standpoint I don't think it's a failure, either.--Ed--
A 'technical' superiority is not required for wide consumer acceptance, and consumer acceptance doesn't always correlate with business, professional use. To me, the success of Win8 will be tied to its use in multiple environments. If it makes some penetration in smart phones and in tablets and in desktops, there will be some crossover effects. Those who become accustomed to it on their phones will have an easier time on their desktops. If it becomes established in 'kiosk' kinds of applications, where the random public can make effective use of it for even the smallest specific needs, it will seem more natural in other circumstances. IMO, it was a mistake for MS to abandon the traditional desktop as abruptly as it did. Providing a choice of UI for one OS release would have been much more acceptable to consumers. It's almost certain to be an example of the future of almost all UIs. It just should have been a two-stepped transition. -- Tom