What next for Win­dows 8?

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TECH - Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Ni­chol­son re­ports

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.

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