Windows 8 Update: Scarcity of touchscreens is hurting Windows 8

Dell deal on Windows RT, dubious Windows 8 sales numbers

Along with whatever other problems Windows 8 faces, Microsoft partners interested in making machines that  show the operating system off to best advantage are handicapped by a short supply of touchscreens, the top Windows executive says.

The company is hoping the problem will be solved in time to make alluring devices in time for Christmas sales, says Tami Reller, chief marketing and financial officer for the Windows division, as quoted in this CITEworld story.

[MORE: Windows Blue: A sneak peek

RELATED: DHS wants iOS or Windows-based biometric devices for rapid, remote identification of bad guy]

“We see that touch supply is getting so much better,” Reller says. “By the holidays we won’t see the types of restrictions we’ve seen on the ability of our partners and retail partners to get touch in the volume they’d like and that customers are demanding.”

Along with that area a slew of complaints about the Windows 8 user interface, many of which may be addressed by Windows Blue, the code name for the upgrade that is also coming out later this year, likely before the holidays, Reller says.

It’s still unclear what changes Windows Blue will include although rumors say the start button and start page so familiar in earlier versions of Windows will be restored. The specifics of Windows Blue – officially called Windows 8.1 – will be revealed at the Microsoft Build developers’ conference at the end of June, she says.

Although Reller didn’t mention it during her remarks at a JP Morgan tech conference in Boston, by the end of the year Intel’s Haswell chips should be in production offering a longer battery life, higher  performance and improved graphic processing for a range of devices such as ultrabooks, convertibles and tablets.

This is a convergence of events that Microsoft no doubt would have welcomed last holiday season just after Windows 8 launched in October.

Windows RT deal

Dell has come out with a Windows RT tablet for $300 - $200 less expensive than the cheapest Microsoft Surface RT.

That’s a limited time offering and is a $150 discount off the regular price for its XPS 10, which sports a 10.1-inch display and, like all Windows RT devices, runs on ARM chips. Another short-term option tosses in a keyboard/dock for an extra $50.

At that price the bundle is still significantly cheaper than an iPad and may grab a few potential Apple customers.

When is 100 million not 100 million?

Microsoft says it’s sold 100 million Windows 8 licenses so far and seems proud of it, but the number is being picked apart by people who note that the number of licenses sold might be far higher than the number in actual use.

According to a story in ComputerWorld the count of machines running Windows 8 could be closer to 59 million.

Why would Microsoft release the higher number but not release the number of machines that have activated the software? The obvious answer: that number is embarrassingly small.

Windows 8 is bad for this business

Buffalo, N.Y. -based Synacor blames Windows 8 for a 16% drop in search-engine advertising revenues for its content-portal services.story in the the Buffalo News. Part of Synacor’s business is to set its customers’ advertising pages into the start page of end users’ browsers.

Because Windows 8 defaults to Bing as the search engine and sets MSN as the home page, according to this

“That hurts Synacor because the company generates revenue every time a subscriber uses the Google search box on the start pages that it designs, while a reduction in page views also hurts Synacor’s advertising sales on those start pages,” the News story says.

The situation has contributed to a 5% drop in revenues for Synacore.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene

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