Poll: Scant demand for Microsoft's Windows 8

October 29, 2012 by Michael Liedtke

(AP)—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 U.S. found 52 percent hadn't even heard of 8 leading up to Friday's release of the redesigned software.

Among the people who knew something about the new operating system, 61 percent 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 percent).

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 Corp.'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 , 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 Inc.'s pioneering iPad and other popular tablets such as Amazon.com Inc.'s Kindle Fire and Google Inc.'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. But the information apparently resonated mostly with industry analysts, reporters, technology blogs and gadget geeks.

Microsoft is in the early stages of an estimated $1 billion 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 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 Inc. 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 percent 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 percent 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 Inc.

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 percent of all adults fall into this category, including 30 percent 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 percent 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 ," 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."


Associated Press Deputy Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta and News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.




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3 / 5 (4) Oct 29, 2012
I thought that win 8 would fall pretty hard ... but with the advertising for the laptop/tablet combo machines coming out... win 8 is perfectly positioned to be the OS that is ready for the future.

What else could these machines run...? Android on a laptop ... booo... its not a full OS and cannot do everything an OS can do , example you cannot compile a program in the Android OS.
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 29, 2012
For what market share they will gain in the portable devices, they will lose in laptops and desktops. As Scotty found out, we still need a mouse to do any productive work. What is windows 9 going to offer, a PC without a screen? EPIC FAIL
4 / 5 (1) Oct 29, 2012
you cannot compile a program in the Android OS

Then again: compiling stuff on a tablet is not really something anyobody does. So while it may be true it is nonetheless not a relevant argument.

We'll see how Windows 8 turns out. But as of now I'm still somewhat underwhelmed.

There's two groups of people: Those that consume content and those that produce it (i.e. who work productively with a computer). I can see where Windows 8 might appeal to the consumer group on the gadget/wanna-have level (but Apple's cornered that market pretty efficiently so it'll be tough going).

For the producer crowd a touch-centered OS isn't of much use.
1 / 5 (1) Oct 29, 2012
I'm interested in how Windows 8 interfaces with Xbox.
1 / 5 (1) Oct 29, 2012
I wish they would stop dicking with the user interface and come up with real significant improvements to things such as the file system... NTFS is dated... what I would give for a file system with built in file tagging and the ability to make folders that are auto-populated based on assigned tags.
2 / 5 (3) Oct 29, 2012
...its not a full OS and cannot do everything an OS can do
Linux is a full operating system. Android uses java for the GUI. GUIs are not part of *NIX operating systems just candy for the kiddies.
you cannot compile a program in the Android OS.
I can. You can't.
As Scotty found out, we still need a mouse to do any productive work.
Winblows should revert back to the DOS command line interface that made M$ great. No mouse needed.
1 / 5 (1) Oct 29, 2012
Try doing audio, video, photo editing with a keyboard just to mention a few. As much potential linux has, it's never orchestrated enough into a single direction. I see the same problem in the freeware community, lots of people reinventing the wheel instead of pouring their efforts into a single platform.

Microsoft is having issues, there is no doubt about that. Look at the price of their OS over time. Its a sign of their quality, please leave BOD jokes out as much as I enjoy them.

I think all Apple has to do is lower their hardware costs and we will have something more useful.
not rated yet Oct 29, 2012

Then again: compiling stuff on a tablet is not really something anyobody does. So while it may be true it is nonetheless not a relevant argument.

might be chicken and egg scenerio .. but the reason people don't compile things on a tablet is because they can't. Literally the android OS is not strong enough. But on slates ( tablets with full operating systems) you can compile programs. I restate my previous argument.

It is because of the limitations of the OS that tablets are just toys, but if the OS was more complete then they could become very useful machines.

--- @kocheynik

Linux is a full operating system -- android is not. It uses a subset of java and the complete language is not implemented.

- I ask you can you compile C/xlisp/C plus plus on an Android box, the answer is no.

dos prompt never went away ... and powershell is well powerful.

- i have no need for a mouse to be productive
not rated yet Oct 29, 2012
but the reason people don't compile things on a tablet is because they can't. Literally the android OS is not strong enough. But on slates ( tablets with full operating systems) you can compile programs.

Why would you want to compile on a system where you don't write code? I can't see anyone writing code on a tablet (that seems extremely masochistic to me. As I said: the market niche for that kind of capability seems non-existent).
So you write and compile elsewhere and then put it on the tablet.

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