Microsoft's Windows 8 a dud - poll

2012-10-29 21:05

San Francisco - Microsoft bills Windows 8 as a "re-imagining" of the personal computer market's dominant operating system, but the company still has a lot of work to do before the makeover captures the imagination of most consumers, based on the results of a recent poll by The Associated Press and GfK.

The phone survey of nearly 1 200 adults in the US found 52% hadn't even heard of Windows 8 leading up to Friday's release of the redesigned software.

Among the people who knew something about the new operating system, 61% had little or no interest in buying a new laptop or desktop computer running on Windows 8, according to the poll. And only about a third of the people who've heard about the new system believe it will be an improvement (35%).

Chris Dionne of Waterbury, Connecticut, falls into that camp. The 43-year-old engineer had already seen Windows 8 and it didn't persuade him to abandon or upgrade his Hewlett-Packard laptop running on Windows 7, the previous version of the operating system released in 2009.

"I am not real thrilled they are changing things around," Dionne said. "Windows 7 does everything I want it to. Where is the return on my investment to learn a new OS?"

Microsoft usually releases a new version of Windows every two or three years, but it's different this time around. Windows 8 is the most radical redesign of the operating system since 1995 and some analysts consider the software to be Microsoft's most important product since co-founder Bill Gates won the contract to build an operating system for IBM's first personal computer in 1981.

Microsoft is hoping the way Windows 8 looks and operates will appeal to the growing number of people embracing the convenience of smartphones and tablets.

The consumer ambivalence, however, was even more pronounced when it came to Microsoft's new tablet computer, Surface, which was built to show off Windows 8's versatility. Sixty-nine percent of the poll's respondents expressed little or no interest in buying a Surface, which Microsoft is hoping will siphon sales from Apple's pioneering iPad and other popular tablets such as's Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7.

The results indicate Microsoft still has work to do to create a bigger buzz about Windows 8 and help consumers understand the new operating system's benefits, even though the company provided several previews of the software at various stages in the final 13 month leading to its release.

Not savvy

But the information apparently resonated mostly with industry analysts, reporters, technology blogs and gadget geeks.

Microsoft is in the early stages of an estimated $1bn marketing campaign that will include a siege of television commercials to promote Windows 8 to a wider audience.

That still might not be enough to sway longtime Windows users such as Mary Sweeten. She is 75, and not eager to learn the nuances of a new operating system. She, too, is comfortable with her current desktop computer running on Windows 7.

"I am not technologically savvy like all these young kids," said Sweeten, who lives in Camdenton, Missouri. "I like something I am used to and can get around on without too much trouble. Sometimes when you get these new (systems), you wish you could go back to the old one."

Windows 8 represents Microsoft's attempt to adapt to a technological shift that is empowering more people to use smartphones and tablets to surf the Web and handle other simple computing tasks. The revamped system can be controlled by touching a device's display screen and greets users with a mosaic of tiles featuring an array of dynamic applications instead of the old start menu and desktop tiles.

In an effort to protect its still-lucrative PC franchise, Microsoft designed Windows 8 so it can still be switched into a desktop mode that relies on a keyboard and mouse for commands.

Microsoft felt it had to gamble on a radical redesign to fend off the competitive threats posed by Apple, which has emerged as the world's most valuable company on the strength of its iPhone and iPad. Google is a threat, too. It has used its 4-year-old Android operating system to become an influential force in the mobile computing movement.

Despite the growing popularity of smartphones, Microsoft remains deeply entrenched in people's lives. The poll found 80% of respondents with personal computers in their homes relied on earlier versions of Windows versus only 12 percent that operate on Apple's Mac system.

Windows is even more widely used in offices, but 90% of companies relying on the operating system are expected to hold off on switching to the new operating system through 2014, according to a study by the research firm Gartner.


Jim Beske of West Fargo, North Dakota, won't be waiting long to install Windows 8 on the home computer he bought a year ago. He already has seen how Windows 8 works in his job as a network engineer, and he considers it to be a nice improvement.

"They have made it much simpler," Beske, 43, said. "I don't know about the tiling so much; that's something I think younger people will like more. But once people get in front of it, I think they will understand it."

Windows 8 also could appeal to consumers who still don't own a home computer. The AP-GfK survey found 22% of all adults fall into this category, including 30% with households whose incomes fall below $50 000 annually.

Beske is among a growing group who use both Microsoft and Apple products. Besides his Windows computer, he also loves his iPad.

Most survey respondents liked both Apple and Microsoft. Fifty-nine percent said they had favorable impressions of Apple versus 58% for Microsoft.

Tequila Cronk of Herington, Kansas, is more of a Microsoft fan because she considers Apple's prices to be a "rip-off." At the same time, she can't justify buying a Windows 8 computer when her desktop and laptop computers at home are running fine on the earlier versions of the system.

"We will upgrade, but I am not going to rush out and buy a new computer just because it's got a different operating system," Cronk, 26, said.

Windows 8's release came at a perfect time for Hector Gonzalez of Kissimmee, Florida. He is so frustrated with the performance of his 3-year-old laptop running on Windows 7 that he is considering buying a MacBook laptop. But now he plans to check out the array of new Windows 8 laptops and may even consider buying a Surface tablet to supplement the iPad that he bought for his teenage daughters.

"Anything that is new, it's worth taking a look at," Gonzalez, 35, said. "That's the way technology is. There is always something new to replace everything else."

  • chaze.damonze - 2012-10-29 21:36

    Dude i'm still running XP, never needed to change yet... Microsoft makes good products, i dont doubt that, but that could be bad if its so good you stop purchasing their products...

  • nicholas.torr.1 - 2012-10-29 21:39

    I'm sorry, but the headline for this article is completely ridiculous. The "details" for the poll that was given show mixed opinions, and the fact that the operating system has only been out 3 days, means that conclusions that have been drawn about it could not possibly be so definitive. Whether or not Windows 8 is a "dud", will only be apparent in time, and certainly not from a bunch of Americans randomly asked questions about an operating system that pretty much only only geeks have used so far. Misleading headline, article filled with editorial opinion - Readers, get your IT news somewhere else. 2/10.

      Rooinek007 - 2012-10-29 22:29

      I was surprised the other day to read that the new york times officially endorses barack obama as the next president. I was surprised because I always thought newspapers were meant to be unbiased, objective deliverers of the news, but unfortunately it becomes more obvious all the time that the deliverers of the news come with a political and social bias. I think that most people dont realise how much power the news agencies have over what their opinions are, but I think that is slowly changing.

      frederick.nel - 2012-11-08 10:53

      Well said buddy @nicholqw could not agree with you more.

  • TheRealWitblitz - 2012-10-29 21:49

    I don't even want it for FREE.

  • sycomachinery - 2012-10-30 06:31

    This happens every time until the people becomes used to it, I even remember as far back as when DOS 5 came out everyone said it was crap, 2 months later everyone said it was great, I suspect the same will happen wit Windows 8.

      nicholas.torr.1 - 2012-10-30 10:46

      Exactly, remember the hordes of people that refused to upgrade from Windows XP? I had to use it again the other day, and couldn't believe how quaint and old fashioned it felt. :-)

  • paul.bester1 - 2012-10-30 08:34

    Microsoft should have taken what people loved about Windows 7 and integrated that into Windows 8. I personally think Windows 8 won't be a hit. Microsoft will need to make major changes, i.e: incorporating features from Windows 7, before people will accept it without question. One of the main reason for me not getting Windows 8 is the fact that they dropped the Aero theme as well as the desktop and Start button. If they had only given the user a choice between Aero and Metro...

      nicholas.torr.1 - 2012-10-30 10:45

      All the components of Win7 are still there, including the desktop. The start button has simply been replaced with the start screen, and while it takes a little getting used to, it is still an improvement in many ways. Like the author of the article, please try using the OS before making comments about it.

  • nogo4rajahdakine808 - 2012-10-30 09:14

    I had Windows 8 since the beginning of August (thanks to MSDNAA). Yes I agree, it was a STEEP learning curve for me to the point I regretted installing it on my laptop. However, never did I realize that it is SO MUCH FUN to use. Look at these screenshots of what a college student like me uses it for: People are too quick to judge. If it had an Apple logo slapped across it...

  • jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2012-11-02 13:31

    I just bought a notebook with Windows 8 but it does frustrate me when i try to write e-mails, the letters keep shifting to all sort of places, this also happens when I write in facebook, i have to rearrange everything back to where it is supposed to be. Can anyone let me know if this happens with others as well and how to solve this problem.

      frederick.nel - 2012-11-08 11:04

      I had this problem with my laptop at the start and its win 7. I got to do with your touch pad settings. I assume win 8 will be the same and is worth a shot. Go to control panel>mouse. Click on the device setting tab and look for something called "PalmCheck" and set that lower. Please let me know if this has helped you.

      frederick.nel - 2012-11-08 11:11

      Sorry once in the device settings tab click the "Settings.." button then look for PalmCheck.

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