After four months, Windows 8 is at a standstill

Some troubling market statistics paint a dim picture for Windows 8.

You want to give any new product the benefit of the doubt, especially in this economy. But after four months, an image is becoming rather clear with Windows 8, and it isn’t good. The product is pretty much at a standstill.

The latest stats from Net Applications, which derives analytics from more than 40,000 business websites, including operating systems used by the PCs that visit them, shows Windows 8 gained 0.4% of the desktop market from January. It grew from 2.26% in January to 2.67% in February. That figure is worldwide and mixes consumers with business users.

I think webOS is more popular.

Let’s put this in perspective. After four months on the market, Windows 7 had 9% market share. Not only that, but its share in the first two months of 2013 actually ticked up, ever so slightly, from 44.48% to 44.55%. It’s miniscule, but let’s face it - Windows 7 is off the market, technically speaking. It should not be gaining market share.

So how does this jive with Microsoft’s claim of 60 million licenses shipped for Windows 8? Well, judging by the numbers from Steam, it means only consumers are buying Windows 8. Steam is an iTunes-like application created by Valve Software to sell PC videogames from virtually every publisher except EA.

Because it sits in the system tray of millions of game PCs, it gathers its own analytics, although they are totally skewed toward home users and gamers. That said, it paints a very different picture: Windows 8 at 9.5% market share, with the 64-bit holding 8.9% and the 32-bit version at 0.7%.

Nine percent among consumers/gamers vs. 2.6% of a worldwide audience of consumers and business users. What to make of this?

It tells me the enterprise, Microsoft’s bread and butter, is rejecting Windows 8 thoroughly. They are likely buying a Windows 8 machine and putting 7 on it, if they are buying PCs at all. If Windows 7 went up sharply, then that would be a sign of unit sales. The fact that Windows 7 and 8 are barely moving means no one is buying anything. Could the lack of warranty support and the extra $100 charge for putting Windows 7 on a new PC be putting people off?

As it stands now, Gartner has reduced its worldwide spending projections for devices, which includes PCs, tablets, mobile phones and printers, to $666 billion in 2013, a $40 billion reduction from Gartner's previous forecast of $706 billion. The firm specifically said that reduction came from lower sales of “PCs and tablets.” Believe me, tablet sales are not the problem here.

The question now becomes how much more pain the industry is willing to endure for Microsoft’s intransigence. Microsoft could begin to reverse course tomorrow by allowing Windows 8 to boot into the old desktop by default and returning the Start menu, but it refuses and is taking down the rest of the industry with it. Will Intel, AMD, Nvidia, Dell and HP really stand by quietly and watch their sales drop while the public squeezes more miles out of old PCs running Windows 7, or even XP?

Your move, Ballmer.

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