Windows 8 adoption said to be ‘lower than Windows 7, more like Vista’

The news that Windows 8’s adoption rate is better than its predecessor, 7, is good news for Microsoft–until you hear what it’s being compared to:

Windows Vista.

A variety of problems plagued Vista when it was introduced in January 2007. It was the first new version of Windows since the enormously popular XP was released in October 2001, and the world had changed much since then. Unfortunately for Vista, many of those changes didn’t make it into the released version…or, regarding system security and DRM, were applied with a very heavy hand.

The world was indeed a different place then…there weren’t all the choices in 2007 that there are now–no iPad or iPhone, or similar fully-featured smartphones and tablets. There were just desktops and laptops…a few smartphones allowed web surfing and email, but it was slow and nowhere near the functionality of today.

The speed of its adoption was in part because it was the first new version of Windows in six years. There was much excitement over a new shiny OS with Aero, a new GUI that rivaled what Mac users had been using for years.

But it wasn’t until many had already adopted it that the ugly stories began to appear. Devices that worked fine with XP weren’t found by Vista, or didn’t work properly–or at all. Security was so tight with User Access Control and Digital Rights Management (DRM) that it could be a real headache to run new software or media.

Here’s a better list of what was perceived to be wrong with Vista.

PCWorld.com’s article by Gregg Keizer reports on Windows 8’s adoption in this excerpt:

After a month on the market, Windows 8’s usage uptake resembles 2007’s Vista—ultimately a poor performer for Microsoft—rather than the eventually successful Windows 7, a Web measurement company said Saturday.

According to Net Applications, 1.2 percent of all Windows PCs ran Windows 8 during November, more than double its share the month before.

While Windows 8 uptake rate edged Vista’s first full month—that OS ended February 2007 with a 1% share of all Windows systems—the new edition actually jumped less than the problem- and perception-plagued Vista. From January to February 2007, Vista increased its share more than five times, compared to the doubling of Windows 8.

The difference may have little to do with the two operating systems and all to do with economics and choice: The global economy was significantly more robust in early 2007 than it is now, and five years ago consumers had few alternatives to a PC, since smartphones and tablets were then just a gleam in engineers’ eyes.

Windows 8’s gains last month were lackluster compared to Windows 7’s in late 2009. By the end of that upgrade’s first full month at retail, it had captured 4.3% of all Windows.

Windows 8’s November gain was its best-ever since Net Applications began tracking the new operating system. Even so, it fell further behind Windows 7’s pace. In 2009, Windows 7 added 2 percentage points in its first month after launch, while Windows 8 added only seven-tenths of a point, less than a half as much.

In fact, Windows 8 may have trouble keeping pace with Vista. By the end of Vista’s second month, it accounted for 2.2 percent of all copies of Windows. To equal that, Windows 8 will have to add another full percentage point to its share in December.

Net Applications’ statistics corroborate other data that showed Windows 8 has not prompted consumers or businesses to buy new PCs. Last week, the NPD Group said that in the four weeks since Windows 8’s Oct. 26 debut, U.S. consumer PC sales had dropped 21 percent compared to the same period in 2011.

NPD’s conclusion: Windows 8’s introduction not only failed to boost PC sales, but it also did nothing to slow the year-long slide.

The usage data also bolsters analysis of Microsoft’s assertion that it sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses — a number the company said is “in line” with Windows 7’s first month. Experts did not dispute the 40 million, but noted that many of those licenses were tied to PCs that had not yet been sold to customers, and so Microsoft’s number did not represent Windows 8’s real-world use.

Other versions of Windows kept to their long-running trends.

Windows XP lost eight-tenths of a percentage point last month to fall under 40% for the first time since its early years. XP, which is slated for retirement in less than 500 days, accounted for 39.8% of all personal computers in November, or 44.5 percent of all Windows machines. Vista also slipped by one-tenth of a percentage point as its share continued to slip toward zero.

And Windows 7 remained flat, ending the month with a 44.7 percent share of all PCs and 48.9% of all Windows PCs. November was the first month since March that Windows 7’s share did not add gain [sic] at least half a percentage point.

The bulk of Windows 8’s increase last month came at the apparent expense of XP, but the data may be misleading. It’s possible, for instance, that some, or even many, of the lost XP-powered systems were replaced by ones running Windows 7, and that because Window 8 upgrades are more likely to come from Windows 7, that there were two transfers of share last month: One from XP to Windows 7, another from Windows 7 to Windows 8.

Some of Windows 8’s adoption issues ironically can be traced back to Vista. Users became very cautious following its failed existence–which in turn helps to explain why XP is still around.

It wasn’t until Windows 7 that users slowly began to embrace a Microsoft OS again.

It’s too soon to declare Windows 8 an abject failure, as Vista has been popularly characterized.

But the clock is ticking.

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