Windows 8 Adoption Hits Standstill


Do you hear that screeching sound? That’s the sound of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system adoption rates coming to an abrupt halt. The beleaguered OS's market share is down, according to market research firm Net Applications.

It's slice of the market, according to Net Applications, was 12.48 percent in July -- down slightly over the past two months and Microsoft partners say they aren’t surprised. Some have called Windows 8.1 the OS equivalent of a dead man walking, as corporations opt for Windows 7 and anticipation builds for the release of Windows 9, codenamed ‘Threshold’.

“Microsoft gets it right every eight years and Windows 8 is Redmond’s Vista year,” said Joseph Awe, president of TechBldrs, an Exton, Pa.-based Microsoft partner. “We thought Windows 8.1 might have eventually caught on, but nobody in the business world is buying touchscreen devices or Windows 8. It’s still all Windows 7."

[Related: Microsoft To Debut Windows 9 'Threshold' In April]

Windows 8 and 8.1 together have lost market share since May, when the two had a 12.64 percent share compared to today's 12.48 percent, according to Net Applications. While the drop is less than one percent, it illustrates an important trend some VARs said.

“Microsoft went out on a limb with Windows 8 and aimed to appeal to consumers, not corporations, with a touch interface and Metro interface. That backfired,” Awe said. "This could be the high water mark for Windows 8 adoption." 

Microsoft partners said businesses consider Windows 8.1’s touch interface to be too slow when it comes to productivity and complain the OS does not support enough legacy peripherals.

“A company looks at the budget line cost of upgrading the Windows 8 OS, then factor in the cost of upgrading peripherals. That’s when many companies decide to stick with Windows 7 for that legacy support,” said Joe Lore, sales director at Sunnytech, a Woburn, Mass.-based Lenovo partner.

Other VARs say Microsoft is feeling more competition from alternative operating systems, such as Chromebooks' significant gains in the education market. Last month, Google announced that it -- and its partners -- sold a million Chromebooks to schools in the last quarter.

While Windows 8.x market share slipped over the past 2 months, Windows 7 saw a 1.2 percent jump to 51.22 percent OS market share in the same time period, according to Net Applications. Windows XP lost about 1.5 percentage points and has an OS market share of 24.82 percent.

Buzz over Microsoft’s release of Windows 9 is also impacting sales, VARs said. Alleged leaked screenshots of Microsoft’s upcoming OS show fixes to complaints business partners have with Windows 8.1. Improvements include the return of the Start menu and the ability to run Metro apps in a windowed mode. While Microsoft declined to comment on the official launch of its Windows 8 successor, the Windows 9 OS is expected to debut in April 2015.

SunnyTech’s Lore said 70 percent of the desktops and laptops he sells ship with Windows 7. The remaining 30 percent, he said ship with Windows 8.1 Pro, which he said comes with the licensing rights to downgrade to Windows 7.

PUBLISHED AUG. 4, 2014