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Windows 8 Market Share Sees Christmas Growth

Windows 8 picked up over Christmas, but is growing slower than Vista did after its launch

On by Tom Jowitt 0

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer will be anxiously eyeing up the sales and shipment figures of Windows 8, as Redmond seeks to reaffirm the desktop proposition in the eyes of the consumer, against the tablet pretenders to the throne.

And the latest figures from Net Applications could offer Ballmer some crumb of comfort, but tinged with some unsettling news: although Windows 8 usage is growing, it looks like it is not growing as fast as Microsoft’s disastrous operating system, Vista, did after its launch.

Good and Bad

Net Applications measures the penetration of various operating systems globally by watching 40,000 websites and seeing what OS was used to access them. The good news for Ballmer and Microsoft is that according to the Net Applications’ latest figures, Windows 8 seemed to enjoy a good Christmas after it grew its market share to 1.72 percent as of 31 December. This is still a long way off the 45.11 percent share enjoyed by Windows 7, but it is still relatively early days for Microsoft’s latest operating system.

The ancient but very popular Windows XP stubbornly remains around with a 39.08 percent market share, while its less liked successor Windows Vista maintains a 5.67 percent market share.

There is little doubt that Microsoft has been keen to stress the uptake success of Windows 8, and in late November it revealed that one month after the launch of the operating system, it had sold 40 million Windows 8 licences.

But these claims were tempered by some worrying reports. In late November Net Applications revealed that only only 1.19 percent of the computers it tracks for usage statistics were running Windows 8, compared to 45.54 percent running Windows 7 and 39 percent running Windows XP.

But even more concerning for Steve Ballmer is the realisation that Windows 8′s 1.72 percent online usage share is still less than the 2.2 percent that Vista had in the same two months after its release. Microsoft for its part is currently remaining quiet about the actual shipment figures so far of Windows 8.

Matters have not been helped when a survey of 50,000 Windows 8 users by Forumswindows8.com, a Windows 8 help and support site, revealed that more than half still prefer Windows 7 over Windows 8.

Drag Factors?

There have many suggestions as to why Windows 8 is not experiencing a massive uptake at the moment, for example weak economic outlook coupled with corporate indecision over whether to upgrade their ageing Windows XP desktop fleet to Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Another factor could be that Windows 8 has been designed to make use of touchscreens, and not many users are prepared to invest in the necessary touchscreen monitors for their PCs (or the extra cost of touch-enabled laptops). And the Metro interface (now renamed simply “Windows 8″)  is said to take some getting used to.

Late last year the President of Fujitsu Ltd, Japan’s biggest provider of computer services, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying that the company would miss its annual shipment target for personal computers amid slow demand for Windows 8. Initial appetite for the software, introduced in October, was “weak,” Fujitsu President Masami Yamamoto, reportedly said. He blamed slumping demand in Europe amid the ongoing debt crisis.

This stance was backed by a recent report from London-based researcher Context, which found that  adoption of Windows 8 has so far been slow across businesses in Western Europe.

Microsoft is trying hard to convince the market to upgrade by offering very reasonable upgrade prices for users upgrading to a newer Microsoft operating system.

Microsoft is also hoping that its Surface tablet offering will convince those thinking of jumping ship into the tablet camp, to remain in the Microsoft fold. But sales of the Surface device remain patchy despite a massive advertising blitz, due to a combination of a modest retail presence for the devices, coupled with what some observers feel is too high a retail price for the machine.

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Tom Jowitt
Author: Tom Jowitt
Freelance TechWeek Reporter
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