What next for Windows 8?
MICROSOFT’S big operating system overhaul may not have paid big dividends and it’s about to become an even harder sell.
It’s been 100 days since the software giant launched Windows 8 in Australia amid a $ 1.5 billion worldwide marketing campaign, yet the new software failed to reinvigorate PC sales in the holiday season.
And while Microsoft claims it is ‘‘ delighted’’ with Windows 8 sales to date, the company is raising the stakes even higher.
The software package’s price rose dramatically on Friday when introductory pricing was removed – a move likely to see fewer computer users upgrade their machines.
Microsoft launched its new software suite in Australia on October 26, with chief executive Steve Ballmer calling Windows 8 a bigger deal than Windows 95.
The software controversially ditched the Windows Start button, switched traditional icons for coloured tiles, delivered new hidden menus and encouraged computer makers to add touchscreens to hybrid, laptop and desktop computers.
More than 105 Windows 8 machines have Microsoft’s latest operating system debuted not with a bang
but a whimper. been released in the Asia- Pacific region since its launch and Microsoft chief financial officer Tami Reller revealed at International CES that Windows 8 had ‘‘ reached the 60 million licence mark’’, which was ‘‘ roughly in line with where we would have been with Windows 7’’.
‘‘ Still much more, so much more opportunity ahead, but certainly looking back we’re pleased with what we were able to accomplish with the project,’’ she said.
But Microsoft will not reveal whether Windows 8 is installed and working on 60 million computers, or whether that figure includes all software on unsold PCs and Windows RT on tablet computers.
HP executive vice- president Todd Bradley has already broken ranks to remark that Windows 8 had ‘‘ a slower start than many people expected’’.
Furthermore, IDC senior research analyst Avinash Sundaram says a drop in PC sales at the end of last year shows ‘‘ initiatives such as Ultrabooks and Windows 8 haven’t reinvigorated the PC market as much as the industry had hoped’’.
Worldwide PC sales fell even further than IDC’s initial forecast, diving 6.4 per cent in the last quarter of the year – the first time in more than five years that PC sales fell during the holiday season.
Computer sales in the Asia- Pacific region fell 5 per cent in the final three months of 2012 and 2 per cent throughout the year.
Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi says Microsoft struggled to sell users on Windows 8 for several reasons, including the high price of some Windows 8 PCs and tablets, and Microsoft’s ambition to see Windows on all screens in the house.
‘‘ There was a lot of talk about having Windows 8 across multiple devices: smartphones, tablets, and PCs,’’ he says.
‘‘ Conceptually that makes sense but it’s difficult to convince consumers that it is the best model. Consumers are scared of being locked into one platform.’’
HARD SELL: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at the Windows 8 launch in New York in October.