Microsoft’s Windows 8 Is Such a Mess Hewlett-Packard Is Now Teaching People How to Use It

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Confused by Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) Windows 8? You're not alone. Microsoft's hardware partner, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) , is going to great lengths to explain the operating system to potential customers, launching a website for such a purpose.

The decision to essentially do Microsoft's work for it highlights HP's dependency on Microsoft, although the company has been working to reduce it by strengthening its partnership with Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) .

Windows 8 adoption has been poor
Reception of Microsoft's latest operating system has been mixed. Recent data from Net Applications shows that adoption of Microsoft's Windows 8 continues to lag far behind Windows 7 even a year after its release.

Microsoft's hardware partners have not spoken kindly about Windows 8. Samsung's management blamed it for the recent decline in PC sales, calling it an "uncompetitive" platform. Although Google's Android powers the majority of Samsung's successful Galaxy devices, Samsung continues to offer Windows PCs and tablets powered by Windows 8. However, Samsung stayed away from Windows RT, explaining that it would have to do "heavy lifting" to explain the mobile-only operating system to consumers.

HP introduces "The Buzz"
Hewlett-Packard is doing that heavy lifting, but for Windows 8 in general, not RT. The company's new website, The Buzz, aims to explain to users how to "[get] the most out of the new Windows."

Browsing the website, one finds a bevy of articles explaining how to do such things as use multiple monitors, or add a touch screen to an existing PC running Microsoft's latest operating system. The videos are chock-full of HP products, and serve more or less as unofficial commercials, but the website's unifying theme is an educational portal for confused Windows 8 users. HP even suggests ways to modify Microsoft's default settings so as to make the experience better for mouse and keyboard users.

HP partners with Google as Microsoft emerges as a competitor
As one of the largest makers of PCs, HP has a stake in the success Microsoft's operating system. Last quarter, its personal systems unit, which is overwhelmingly composed of Windows PCs, accounted for almost one-third of its total revenue.

However, HP's reliance on Microsoft could be dangerous in the long-term, as Microsoft has begun to sell its own hardware. Microsoft's Surface Pro runs a full version of Windows 8 and competes directly with similar hybrid PCs from HP.

Perhaps to diversify, HP has embraced Google's operating systems with both hands. This year alone, HP has introduced nearly a dozen different devices powered by Google's Android and Chrome operating systems.

HP now sells six different tablets powered by Google's Android, at wildly different price points. The budget Slate 7 was available for less than $100 on Black Friday, while the SlateBook x2 is one of the fastest, most expensive tablets running Google's Android on the market.

HP is still a traditional PC company
Despite its recent embrace of Google's operating systems, HP still remains highly dependent on Microsoft for it success. Its new educational initiative is proof enough of that -- if HP can make Windows 8 easier to use, it might result in better sales of HP's Windows 8 machines.

But HP's decision to launch such a site is clearly a bad sign for Microsoft. If Windows 8 was a success, educational websites from hardware partners simply wouldn't be necessary.

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Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2013, at 10:29 AM, uncoveror wrote:

    HP should work with Google, pushing them if that is what it takes, to make a desktop version of Android to replace Windows, and I do not mean Chrome OS. That is just a browser, and chromebooks are a paperweight without the Internet. It needs plentiful local storage and local processing, not dependence on the cloud.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2013, at 3:00 PM, eldernorm wrote:

    There is another option. As Windows gets to be a big jump in complexity and "newness", many people are looking at Apple.

    Macs have the ability to run windows - 7 or 8. And you can surf the internet with out worry about virsues etc.

    Plus going Apple allows good access to mobile devices - iPods, iPads, Apple TV, iTunes. Hey once you go Apple, suddenly all the equipment just works.

    Not advertising for Apple but my friend makes the case for needing to be an engineer to do things with Windows. More so today than ever.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2013, at 4:17 PM, DavidNY wrote:

    Apple/Mac is too expensive for most. A better option is needed that would work on PCs. Maybe an upgraded version of Windows 7 that retains functionality and ease of use.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2013, at 5:01 PM, Frankxr wrote:

    Sam I have several comments I think can be of value -

    First- training collateral and courses are part of any new OS release and have been for the last 20 years. So the entire premise of this article is incorrect.

    2nd - Google is also in the hardware business. Both Google and Microsoft are in fact responding to Apple's success at a vertically integrated offer to the market. Microsoft and Google are using their entry as OEM's as a benchmarking exercise and hedge against OEM's partners not delivering a quality experience vs. Apple.

    3rd- Google is engaged in a systemic process of services differentiation on its Android platform. For OEMs to gain certification they must ship Google services. this is a far more onerous requirement than what Microsoft has ever made of its OEM partners. Effectively its giving OEMs razors only on the condition that they use Google razor blades. The only way this makes sense if HP gets a piece of the associated service revenue. Net, Google is even more of a competitor to HP than Microsoft because it cuts off future service revenues whereas Microsoft only demands a 1 time upfront licensing fee.

    4th- There is this little phenomenon taking place called BYOD its part of a larger trend called the consumerization of IT. Training is part of that. I suggest you read more about it.

    5th- Samsung is in trouble. Their main differentiation in hardware is eroding. Like most other OEM's they have no really viable service model. This undermines their ability to control pricing. They are playing the field, but increasingly it looks like they will need to have a vertically integrated services play that is their branded version of Google/Microsoft/Apple equivalents. Net, their not about to promote alternatives from Google or anyone else.

    Finally, I suggest you familiarize yourself with the vertical integration of devices and services. Also research Google strategy/tactics and services business model. Once you understand all that you should revisit this issue from a more objective standpoint.

    Have a happy holiday reading more -

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2013, at 2:21 AM, RobertJG wrote:

    What's to teach?

    Install Classic Shell and use it like Windows 7.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2013, at 5:50 AM, garysco wrote:

    As a forever Microsoft user (and Certified MS Small Business Specialist) from MS-DOS to Windows 7 I will now say bye-bye to Microsoft. They have stepped on it for so long now there is no resurection. Management has gone idiocracy on us users and supporters and 8 is the proof. Unless you are a moron who can only finger paint and want all 3 rd party tracking of your actions Windows is no longer a desktop OS for any thinker. MAC? Yes, but bring money and know its restricions. Mint Linux is now a desktop OS that Windows should have been, it is free, and has a vibrant community of developers and support.

  • Report this Comment On December 17, 2013, at 8:46 AM, ft55555 wrote:

    @garysco lazy IT pros like you need to be weeded out. You probably milked Microsoft's cash cow for years, and the second Microsoft tries to do anything radical, you run for the hills. Good riddance to you. Have fun selling Linux hardware to small businesses.

  • Report this Comment On December 17, 2013, at 9:48 AM, ft55555 wrote:

    The "hybrid PCs" that you speak of are not hybrids. They are called "2-in-1s". Get with the program.

    "Hybrid PC" implies that a device is somewhere in between a tablet and a notebook, which is incorrect. OTOH, "2-in-1" implies that you get 2 devices for the price of 1, which is how these new devices are being positioned. 2-in-1s are being positioned as both a cost and convenience play.

    With a 2-in-1, it will cost you more than for either a tablet or notebook alone, but it's more economical than buying both a tablet and a notebook. And there's no question that maintaining one device that handles two different use cases is more convenient than having to maintain two single-purpose devices.

    The fact that 2-in-1s, as well as notebooks with touchscreens, are more expensive than their predecessors is the primary reason why uptake in Windows 8 has been slower than for Windows 7.

    Windows 7 also had the benefit succeeding a version of Windows that was less than well-received. Windows 8 has to follow the most successful version of Windows ever.

    Throw in two more factors as well: hardware longevity and Haswell delay. Hardware, particularly notebook hardware, is lasting much longer nowadays. Every generation of Intel's mobile CPUs has lower power-consumption than the prior generation, resulting in less overheating and longer hardware service life. As a result, new PC purchases due to replacement are slowing.

    For many tech enthusiasts, the promise of Haswell was very compelling and worth the wait. However, even now Haswell-powered devices are just trickling out onto the market. Haswell-based CPUs are currently reserved only for the highest-end devices that are out of most people's price range. When Haswell becomes more mainstream, the boost in battery life to the mid and lower-tier notebooks will give some reason for mainstream PC users to upgrade, despite there being so many reasons not to.

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