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Windows 8 is the next Windows ME? The sales numbers suggest that accusation is malarkey

Windows 8 was an incredibly bold redesign on the part on Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).  The move to a more touch-friendlygraphically rich operating system certainly seemed to mirror the general direction of the device market, but that did not shield Microsoft from loads of criticism. Many wondered whether it went too far with the graphical gloss, whether it was disrespecting developers with its shift to a walled-garden "Windows Store" app distribution model, and whether it was forsaking traditional desktop power users.

I. Windows 8 Upgrade Sales: Very Strong

But the proof is in the sales, and Microsoft announced today that for all the haters, Windows 8 appears to be doing great.

In its first month of sales Windows 8 has moved 40 million licenses, according to Microsoft.  The company announced the news in a blog post and at a conference presentation.  It also points out that buoyed by reduced upgrade fees, the Windows 8 upgrade rate is outpacing that of Windows 7, the previous sales record-holder.

Indeed, our own polling shows that the majority of users are upgrading to Windows 8, although there are certainly many holdouts bitter about the changes.

Windows 8 boxes
While some upgrades have been via disc, the new OS has largely been digitially distributed.
[Image Source: The Verge]

Windows 8 is the first Microsoft OS to transition to a primarily online distribution.  That shift has not seemed to adversely impact sales.  It appears Microsoft timed its transition to disc-less media correctly.

II. The Road Ahead

Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc also brags that its Windows Store is thriving, writing:

There were more apps in the Windows Store at launch than any other app store at their launch and since then, the number of apps in the Windows Store has doubled. A number of apps in the Windows Store have crossed the $25,000 revenue mark and the developer keeps 80% of the revenue they make off downloads for the life of their app. A lot of great new apps have been added to the Windows Store since launch such as CBS, ABC News, ABC Family, Engadget, Flixster, OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), Vimeo and my (current) personal favorite - Top Gear.

A strong app market is good news for Microsoft.  While it offers a more favorable revenue split than other players like Apple, Inc. (AAPL) or Google Inc. (GOOG) (with developers keeping 80 percent of the revenue), Microsoft still is closing the loop to include itself in Windows software sales profits.

In the past, Windows Certification processes offered up small cuts to Microsoft, but software publishers largely pocketed these profits.  Now Microsoft has cut out the middle man by playing super-publisher with Windows 8, the same move Google and Apple have made with their mobile and personal computer platforms (although Google does allow unofficial third party channels).

Ballmer Slate
Microsoft needed a bold reinvention in the mobile direction to keep up with market trends.
[Image Source: Bloomberg]

Looking ahead, Microsoft has a lot of unanswered questions -- most notably on the leadership front.  Windows 8 was the baby of departed Windows President Steven Sinofsky.  His shoes are currently being filled by former CFO and CMO Tami Reller on the business/marketing front and by Internet Explorer, Office and Windows interface veteran Julie Larson-Green on the software/hardware development front.

And the deep divisions between those who love Windows 8 and those who hate it, could hint that sales may dip to a slower pace than Windows 7 after the fans have completed their upgrades.

But, given the already modest success, and given the life-or-death need for Microsoft to have a cohesive, touch-friendly mobile platform, it appears overall Microsoft made the right choice.  Windows 8 isn't perfect, certainly and as they say, haters are going to hate.  And that is certainly true of Windows 8.  But it's better to be hated for innovation than panned for lack thereof.

Source: Microsoft

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By WinstonSmith on 11/29/2012 10:28:55 AM , Rating: 2
"Win8 is simply Win7 with Metro added"

In "desktop mode" it becomes obvious that there are very useful Win7 features missing due to their self-serving attempt to force the touchscreen smart phone/laptop UI paradigm onto the desktop.

Don't talk to me about workarounds via "keyboard shortcuts" without admitting they're workarounds around non-touchscreen usability obstacles . A WIMP interface on a desktop machine should, with the exception of needing to type text, allow everything else to be done quickly and easily with the mouse without a touchscreen and the "windowing" part of "windowing OS" means, among other things, that multiple windows should be able to be opened and simultaneously viewed on the desktop.

By Fritzr on 11/30/2012 1:01:37 AM , Rating: 2
You mean the non-touchscreen obstacles that make Win7 so much better?

The keyboard shortcuts you denigrate are the same keyboard shortcuts that power users complain about when they are missing :P See above in this thread where the complaint is "I can no longer use <click start>, <click dialog box>, qu<Enter> to run Quicken". Personally I find that the Win7 technique of <Win>+r, qu<Enter> to be easier and faster. As a bonus it also works identically in Vista & Win8.

Of course this forces that unhappy user to keep his hands on the keyboard while using the text search. Much harder to use this text search since he does not remove his hand from the keyboard...

The Win8 method is actually a Win7 keyboard shortcut, but of course learning those obstructs proper use of the mouse :P

The power users who take the time to learn tend to be happy power users liking Win8 ... there are very few reporting abandonment of Win8 after taking the time to learn to use it properly.

Yes features were removed...Win95 got that complaint, WinXP got that complaint, Vista (pre-loaded with no driver problems) got that complaint...The common theme is "They changed/removed my favorite feature".

The right hand panel of the old start menu still exists on the Win8 desktop. Move the mousepointer to the lower left corner where the Win7 Start button is by default and right click. This was the only part of the old Start menu I ever used and it is retained by Win8, so this (non-power) user is happy--YMMV

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer

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