Windows 8 Is Not a Failure

Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) newest operating system, Windows 8, is gaining market share at a slower rate than its predecessor, Windows 7. This has caused some to proclaim that Windows 8 is a failure, but it's important to put the data into perspective. A single chart, like that shown in an article on Business Insider earlier this month, does not even come close to telling the whole story.

Source: Statista
In the first thirteen months after release, Windows 7 gained PC market share at a significantly higher rate than Windows 8. This seems like terrible news for Microsoft, but it's not as simple as that.

Fleeing from Vista
Windows XP was released in 2001. At its peak, more than 80% of PC users had adopted the operating system. XP was the first modern version of Windows, and it brought the personal computer into a new era. It would take five years for Microsoft to release Windows Vista, an OS plagued with serious issues and generally recognized as a flop.

About three years later, Windows 7 was released, and the operating system was a breath of fresh air compared to Vista. Windows 7 had the benefit of both Vista users abandoning the OS and Windows XP users finally being provided a real reason to upgrade. Windows XP and Windows 7 were released eight years apart.

Windows 8 came just three years after Windows 7, and with the former a perfectly solid and competent OS, there was little reason for users to upgrade. Windows 8 followed a more organic path, where market share was gained from new PC sales instead of XP users upgrading en masse. So, although Windows 8 has gained market share more slowly, Windows 7 had some big advantages working for it.

The slow-moving enterprise
Support for Windows XP is set to end next April, and it seems that enterprise customers have been choosing Windows 7 instead of Windows 8. Enterprise customers do not move quickly when it comes to upgrading PCs, and they often wait for at least two years after an OS is released to even think about upgrading. Windows 8 has been out for a little more than a year, so the lack of enterprise market share isn't really that meaningful at this point.

For Microsoft, none of this really matters. Windows licenses are still being sold, and regardless of whether it's Windows 7 or Windows 8, Microsoft is still locking customers into the Windows ecosystem. That's the important thing for the company.

Windows is here to stay
Enterprise customers have too much invested in Microsoft products to even consider switching to anything else. Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) has its Chrome operating system, which has gained a small amount of popularity with consumers, and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) has Macs, but the idea that enterprise customers are going to abandon Microsoft is ridiculous. Windows has been battling a completely free alternative -- Linux -- for years, and it doesn't have a single scratch on it. In enterprise, Windows is king, and that will not change anytime soon.

Google has been trying to push its Chrome OS into the enterprise space, with the idea that its apps, such as Gmail and Documents, are enough to sway customers away from Windows. Some companies have switched from Microsoft Office to Google Docs, but Office is still the de facto standard. Couple that with the fact that many companies use applications that are Windows-specific and mission-critical, and Google clearly has a herculean task ahead of it.

Some companies use Macs instead of PCs, but given that Macs are typically significantly more expensive, there's really no chance of Apple gaining too much ground on that front. Apple is pushing the iPad as an enterprise device, but this doesn't really replace the PC. If anything, it supplements it, and with Windows 8 tablets and convertibles on the market that can compete in terms of battery life, performance, and price, the enterprise iPad becomes a harder sell.

The bottom line
It's a fact that Windows 8 is being adopted at a slower rate than Windows 7, but Windows 7 benefited from the failure of Vista and an eight-year gap between Windows XP and itself. Windows 8 has no such advantages. Ultimately, what matters is not which version of Windows is being adopted, but that Windows is being adopted in the first place. Tablets have pressured Windows on the consumer side, but on the enterprise side, Windows is still king.

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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 16, 2013, at 11:55 AM, Fiat500S wrote:

    Linux

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2013, at 1:35 PM, OutdoorPhotoMan wrote:

    Windows 8 is a failure to me, because I refuse to use the screen formerly known as metro. I installed Classic Shell, which puts back your choice of start Menus. So basically, I moved it back to Windows 7.

    Windows 9 will be a success based on the failure of Windows 8!

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2013, at 1:52 PM, shockwave77598 wrote:

    If your product is roundly rejected by your customers, not even the target demographic likes it and people pay extra to get rid of your product (to put on an earlier version), then I'm sorry to say your product IS A FAILURE.

    Microsoft made the mistake of basing their design on input from teens and tweens. While Win8 would be fine if all we needed to do was keep up with Facebook, it gets in the way of using our COMPUTERS the way we need to use them. And telling me "oh youll like using your dual 24" monitors like a tablet eventually" is not going to make friends or paying customers.

    Bring back windows 7 and have the Metro interface be optional with a setting. That's what your customers want, so start selling it.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2013, at 1:58 PM, JackSmith151 wrote:

    What the writer of this article refuses to acknowledge, is that Windows 7 IS STILL outselling Windows 8/8.1 to this very day.

    More Windows 7 licenses/computers loaded with Windows 7 were sold to consumers just last month than Windows 8.

    So when this author claims that "Windows 8 Is Not a Failure"....

    Then you KNOW that it's a lie.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2013, at 2:33 PM, RememberThis wrote:

    Why do you think Microsoft has stopped selling Win 7?

    Because they know that they have another Vista on their hands & will force users to use it no matter what!

    Win 8.1 or 8.2 will bring back the old interface. Why?

    They have no other choice!

    Microsoft makes yet another costly mistake & now you will pay for it!

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2013, at 2:40 PM, Elbowpong wrote:

    At this point, what does an OS need to do? It's basically little more than a program launcher and a means to organize your files. These days, people spend most of their time in a browser or program.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2013, at 2:47 PM, sfb5761 wrote:

    All you have to do is click on the Desktop icon on the Windows 8 screen and you will be right back in Windows 7, basically.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2013, at 3:07 PM, emilykulish wrote:

    I won't call Microsoft failed, but Windows 8 indeed failed, at least for desktops and laptops. Forcing people to use the new tile interface and removing the start menu are the most stupid decision made by some idiots at Microsoft.

    It is even more stupid that Microsoft has refused to fix the problem now, instead they plan to fix it in the next version, which is likely to be 1 year away...

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2013, at 4:07 PM, deltafool117 wrote:

    I love metro, I almost never use the desktop anymore. What good is the desktop? What does the desktop accomplish that metro doesn't accomplish faster?

    Looking for a program? Just start typing and it pops up. Accustomed to putting things on your desktop? Pin it to metro instead. The only time I go to desktop is if I need to move files around from folders to flash drives and vice versa.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2013, at 4:19 PM, ryanalexanderson wrote:

    All we need is games on Linux, and I'm good to go. Well, maybe Excel too. OO Calc doesn't quite cut it.

    Very exciting to see Steam OS happening. Between the awful Metro/Classic mashup of Windows 8 - why learn ONE new interface when you can learn TWO! - and Steam OS happening at the same time, this could be the time of a major Linux shift.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2013, at 5:07 PM, Craige4107 wrote:

    Windows8 not a failure?!? Are you kidding me?!? Now I know why it's called Motley Fool. Of course Windows 8 users are growing "organically", as you say. Customers are given absolutely NO choice!!!! And you seriously believe Windows is the main enterprise OS?!? Really???? As far as I know, LINUX flavors are running 70 percent of enterprise and business servers. Please know your facts before making such a blatant, pompom waving, blanket statement, in favor of Micro$oft, Fools!!!! You do yourself and your readers a disservice with such blatantly slanted articles such as this.....

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2013, at 6:29 PM, Lees2214 wrote:

    Yeah, and my A$$ doesn't stink either.

    Wait for WIN9.1 and you won't be sorry.

    Don't forget Ubuntu either...................

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2013, at 7:33 PM, okjerryds wrote:

    YOU ARE FAILURES....

    You can't develop an OS completely and you idiots are coming out with something new, and of course it's the same old thing, a system that does not work. Try taking your thumbs from your A-- and suck on them... Make an OS in its completion before you slap one another on the back... Programmers has such an altered ego that you can't tell them squat...

  • Report this Comment On December 17, 2013, at 8:51 AM, MSgtUSAFret wrote:

    What world are you computing in??

    "Apple is pushing the iPad as an enterprise device, but this doesn't really replace the PC"??

    As soon as I bought my IPAD they announced that XP was dead as of April 14.

    I the started traveling with it instead of my Dell laptop.

    Now I use it so much that I bought a Macbook Air 13" to replace the Dell 15" for my iTunes updates and will NEVER go back to MS. For a paltry $80 I got Office for MAC and now can use all my old word docs as well as the new Apple products.

    My IPAD, IPOD and MAC all sync to each other so whatever changes I make to contacts, calendar, etc are all reflected on each device.

    I loved XP - tried 7 and liked it , was will ing to buy a new machine but none are available with 7 and I refuse to be suckered into 8.

    BYE BYE Microsoft.

  • Report this Comment On December 17, 2013, at 11:18 AM, CrazyDocAl wrote:

    Look at history. 95 was a giant leap over 3.1, it took off. 98 was just a revamped version of 95. XP was an update that fixed a number of problems. NT was just a business version that never really made it mainstream.

    So now you have XP, a solid OS. M$ needed a way to sell something new. Along came Vista, nobody felt the need to replace XP so it was a flop. That left the door wide open for 7. After Vista 7 looked great. So 7 is another solid OS.

    M$ realized they needed to have one format (not OS) to make it seamless for people no matter if they are using a windows smart phone, a RT tablet, or a laptop. That's why 8 came about. To sell it they needed something to make it different than 7.

    8 is pretty good, I have a surface pro 2 with it and I'm slowly learning the new features of 8. M$ should have done a lot more to educate people. At the store I struggled with it since I still run XP. As I us it I realize that it's not bad, it just takes time.

  • Report this Comment On December 17, 2013, at 11:55 AM, sonnykohler wrote:

    I have to agree that Windows 8 is not a failure and that it will take some time for it to settle in. While initial release of 8 was somewhat of a failure in the office environment due to the touch screen nature and loss of the familiar environment, both 8.1 & 8.2 have gone a long way towards solving those issues.

    Of course we had significant pushback when we converted to Windows 7 (which, by the way only happened in the last year), now to Windows 8.1 & 8.2. We will adjust and it does ease use on our pads and smartphones so that we can more easily integrate in to the overall network.

    This is MS's history - release, issues, fix, we're happy (with the notable exception of Vista, of course).

    No IE? That is a completely different kettle of fish. MS is notorious for the IE updates and they often break the web applications we depend on. Examples: They have recently gone to 10 and now to 11 which make our Cloud Accounting (NetSuite, AMSI, etc...) systems and our Payroll systems (ADP, Paychex, etc...) completely unusable so we have to roll-back to 9 which often breaks our systems.

    Personally that is a much bigger issue than whether Windows 7 is better than Windows 8 or vice-versa. Whichever windows you are using generally does not affect your actual functional systems (particularly web based), IE does.

    Windows will work it out, but they need to get better with their testing before hand.

    May I ask whatever happened to Beta testing? I and my IT department would be happy to participate in a 6 month test for MS so they can see what issues may be encountered and I am sure that most of us users would.

  • Report this Comment On December 17, 2013, at 12:46 PM, urmomisa1hooker wrote:

    You know your a failure when you have to convince people your not a failure.

  • Report this Comment On December 17, 2013, at 3:20 PM, HighAZDesert wrote:

    Windows8 is the Obamacare of software. Full of things no one wanted, overly complex for users priced too high and you are forced to take it. MS stupidly turned their backs on their base of legacy users (say business LAN's) and flipped them the bird to do combat in the tablet market. Unquestionably one of the stupidest marketing moves, right up there with "New Coke". Not a failure you say? PC sales at their lowest level in years, very limited upgrades and now MS threatens (that is the correct word) to disconinue support for their older OS's to force this monstosity on the market. A classic lesson for future business school students in what not to do.

  • Report this Comment On December 17, 2013, at 11:07 PM, josejoseyomama wrote:

    Win 8 is a total steaming pile of stink. Nobody likes it and look at all the business that cannot install win8 pcs without a LOT of pain! Ubuntu and other linux solutions are becoming more mainstream as they provide a more stable and useable platform than microsoft. Microsoft should LISTEN to their customers rather than try to tell them what they want and need.

  • Report this Comment On December 17, 2013, at 11:32 PM, rcmpvern wrote:

    "XP was the first modern version of Windows"

    False.

    Windows 2000 was the first modern version of Windows.

    Like XP, 2000 was built on the NT kernel, with a user-oriented Desktop similar to 98.

    Notice how they used a user-friendly Desktop that was similar to 98 and 95.

    Another thing the author got wrong:

    "Windows 8 Is Not a Failure"

    In contrast to the success of W2K and XP, Windows 8 is a FAILURE.

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