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.