PC makers 'not thrilled' with Windows 8, holding off on tablets

Don't say we didn't warn you, Steve.

If the accumulating negative reviews for Windows 8 (here, here and here, among others) aren't enough to raise alarm bells in Redmond, maybe this will do it: a Wall Street analyst firm has issued a research note that says OEMs are giving Windows 8 a thumbs-down.

As part of an overall IT hardware report from the massive Computex show in Taipei, Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White noted the potential for a Q3 slowdown because OEMs are "not thrilled" with Windows 8.

RELATED: Will Windows 8 Cause a Notebook Price Jump?

QUIZ: Can you navigate Windows 8?

"During our conversation, we noticed a general lack of enthusiasm around Windows 8 for the notebook computer market and uncertainty around the success of the launch this fall. In fact, our contact will monitor the acceptance around Windows 8 before launching a tablet around the new operating system," he wrote.

White was writing from a hardware perspective, and noted that if Ultrabooks are unable to reach a price point of $699 or lower, he felt consumers will continue to opt for Apple’s MacBook Air. And that was before Apple introduced its new MacBooks that have everyone drooling.

He also noted that the OEMs are pretty mad at the leading HDD vendors because the company was told that HDD pricing isn’t expected to change much until the latter part of 2013. They had been expecting price cuts sooner than that.

While Windows 8 has been compared to Vista by some of the more cynical blogs, there is a pronounced difference between Windows 8 and Windows Vista, Microsoft's last operating system boondoggle. Vista was abysmally designed. Its memory management was atrocious and its performance stunk even on top-of-the-line hardware.

In the case of Windows 8, it's the mandatory adoption of a new interface that no one seems to like or find particularly user-friendly. Other elements of Windows 8 are fantastic. I love the new Task Manager and the system monitoring is excellent. So are the new media codecs that will greatly reduce system overhead. There's a lot in Windows 8 I really like. But it comes down to the Metro UI, which no one seems to like.

I've noticed two particular traits in Mr. Sinofsky: one, he delivers on time. He puts a stake in the ground and makes the deadline, because he knows the value of recurring contracts and getting products out on time. Two, he makes otherwise fine products really ugly. In that regard, he's the opposite of Steve Jobs, to whom he is often compared.

For example, I am writing this on Word 2003 because I detest the ribbon interface of Office 2007/2010, especially since the keyboard commands were changed. Things that weren't broke were fixed and I can't stand it, even though Microsoft has offered me free copies of the newer Office to get me to migrate.

Much of the opposition to Windows 8 can be fixed in one shot: Make Explorer the default interface, not Metro, and bring back the familiar elements like the Start menu and the minimize/maximize/close buttons. There's no point in shipping an unwanted product on time.

Over on Computerworld, Preston Gralla asked if Windows 7 will be the new XP. Yes, it will hang on in the market because people reject its successor. But it doesn't have to be that way. Microsoft is still in a position to avoid this. Hit the brakes, take six months, and make Explorer the standard desktop again.

And if you don't, don't say we didn't warn you.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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