Greg Starr, a senior executive at I.T. Works, a Houston-based solution provider, typically spends his day talking business strategy with clients and vendors. But on a recent afternoon, with all his technicians deployed elsewhere, Starr sat at a desk putting Windows 7 --not Windows 8 -- on a new PC.
It wasn't the first time I.T. Works has installed the older version of Windows on a PC and it won't be the last either, Starr said. Six months after the release of Windows 8, corporate customers just don't want Microsoft's latest operating system, he said.
"I don't have any clients who say, 'Give me Windows 8.' They're saying just the opposite ... the thing came in on Windows 8 and we had to make it [Windows] 7 Pro," Starr said. "Most machines come with [licenses for] 7 and 8 both, and you choose which one you go with. All our clients are staying with Windows 7 Pro."
Starr's experience is far from unusual. Customers are rejecting Windows 8 with its tiles and lack of the customary Windows Start button in droves, solution providers say. They're even paying extra to have it ripped out. Altogether, the operating system that was supposed to herald a new era for the beleaguered PC market -- which continues to reel from the soaring popularity of tablets among both business users and consumers -- has fallen short of industry expectations.
"I wish we were getting demand for Windows 8, but we're not. It hasn't been well-received by corporate customers. And it's not even close to being implemented on a wide scale. It'll probably be at least a year before we see significant adoption," said Iris Sepulveda, sales and marketing manager for PR Computer Services in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. "A lot of clients are still on Windows XP and most are happy with Windows 7, so our customers aren't even looking at Windows 8, let alone testing or evaluating it."
STICKING WITH WINDOWS 7
According to a CRN survey of approximately 300 solution providers, Windows 8 accounted for an average of 13 percent of survey respondents' total Windows-related revenue so far this year, compared with an average of 74 percent for Windows 7.
Seventy-four percent of solution providers surveyed said they do not believe Windows 8 is a solid operating system for their business customers today. Among those who said it is not a solid choice for customers, 62 percent said functionality improvements in Windows 8 are not significant enough to justify an upgrade. Sixty-one percent said Windows 8 training costs for customers are a barrier, and 53 percent said customers' business applications haven't proved to be stable to run on Windows 8 yet. More than 70 percent said customers are not interested in Windows 8.
In fact, customers' distaste for Windows 8 has some going so far as paying extra to have it ripped out: Among 70 solution providers who answered the question, 88 percent of respondents said they've sold and installed Windows 8 machines only to have to re-image the machine with Windows 7. More than half of the solution providers that have ripped out Windows 8 say they charge customers, some collecting fees of upward of $200 to do it.
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