On Windows 8 and Tepid Sales

Nick Wingfield, writing for The New York Times:

It used to be that a new version of the Windows operating system was enough to get people excited about buying a new computer, giving sales a nice pop.

Not this time. Windows 8, the latest edition of Microsoft’s software, failed to pack shoppers into a Microsoft store in a mall here last week, at a time when parking lots in the area were overflowing. The trickle of shopping bags leaving the store with merchandise was nothing like the steady stream at a bustling Apple store upstairs.

In my own anecdotal evidence, Windows 8 isn’t on the radar in my house. For one thing, I use a Mac, and I have no intentions of going back to Windows full-time. I do, however, have Parallels installed running a Windows 7 virtual machine for some Windows-only games. That said, I don’t play the games often, so the incentive is low to upgrade to Windows 8. I had previously considered downloading the public beta, but decided against it; it’s just not that interesting to me. In addition to my own indifference, my uncle, a diehard Windows user, has no plans to upgrade his Windows 7 computer either. Given his usage patterns, the upgrade just isn’t compelling, and he’s uncomfortable with the big changes Microsoft’s made to the OS.

In the broader scope, I think this passage from Wingfield’s piece is most insightful:

Amazon’s list of its 100 best-selling electronics products offers a telling overview of the must-have devices for this holiday season: tablets like Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD and Apple’s iPad. On Friday afternoon there were just five computers on the list, all laptops, including two from Apple that cost more than $1,000. Only one laptop on the list came with Windows 8 as an option, while another ran Windows 7.

Windows’s relevancy (and ergo, Microsoft’s) is slowly but surely waning. The market share numbers are safe for the desktop and Office, to be sure, but the distinction here is subtle but crucial. Microsoft is playing catch-up, and it can’t rely on its legacy monopoly (i.e., Windows) forever. Apple, Amazon, and Google are the major players now, while Steve Ballmer is disillusioned into thinking his company’s products are still relevant to consumers.

(via MG Siegler)