Confusion Has a New Synonym: Windows 8

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When Paul Thurott says it, you can trust it. Paul is the most ardent Microsoft blogger on the internet, and according to him the sales of Microsoft’s Windows 8 are well below the internal projections, to the level of being considered disappointing. On his website Paul says the following

Windows 8: It’s a floor wax. No, it’s a dessert topping. Microsoft’s new whatever-the-F-it-is operating system is a confusing, Frankenstein’s monster mix of old and new that hides a great desktop upgrade under a crazy Metro front-end. It’s touch-first, as Microsoft says, but really it’s touch whether you want it or not (or have it or not), and the firm’s inability to give its own customers the choice to pick which UI they want is what really makes Windows 8 confounding to users. I actually like Windows 8 quite a bit and can’t imagine switching back. But I do understand the complaints of customers who aren’t getting what they wanted or asked for.”

Windows 8 and Windows RT have been in the market now for about three weeks, and every stakeholder in Microsoft has one question: has the launch of Windows 8 been a success or not?

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has been keeping mum on this matter. Neither the OEMs nor the retailers are speaking up. The only statement from Microsoft has been that four million copies of windows 8 had been sold in the opening weekend. However, the truth is that four million copies of Windows 8 have been sold to retailers; this does not necessarily mean four million installs.

There is a reason why the sales of Windows 8 are not picking up as expected. The GUI of Windows 8 has been a drastic shift from that of its predecessors. Very few users are brave enough to be early adopters. In fact, for most of the users there is no particular reason to buy the new Windows, since there are very few applications available in the market for Windows 8 yet.

Many of the users are still not comfortable shifting from Windows 7 to Windows 8. Alex Wukovich, a Londoner who tried Windows 8 on a friend's laptop, agrees. "On a desktop, it just felt really weird," he said. "It feels like it's a tablet operating system that Microsoft managed to twist and shoehorn onto a desktop."

Tony Roos, an American missionary in Paris, installed a free preview version of Windows 8 on his aging laptop to see if Microsoft's new operating system would make the PC faster and more responsive. It didn't, he said, and he quickly learned that working with the new software requires tossing out a lot of what he knows about Windows.

"It was very difficult to get used to," he said. "I have an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old, and they never got used to it. They were like, 'We're just going to use Mum's computer.'”

If there is one thing that is greatly missed, it is the START button. Windows users are habituated to click the START button to access everything from storage to programs, from accessories to system utilities. But the START button is not the only change. It’s the complete look and feel that’s confusing.

Keith McCarthy, a copywriter in New York, has been using Windows for a long time now and is used to a certain way of doing things on his computer. However, it took him several minutes just to figure out how to compose an e-mail message in Windows 8, which has a stripped-down look and on-screen buttons that at times resemble the runic assembly instructions for Ikea furniture. 

“It made me feel like the biggest amateur computer user ever,” said Mr. McCarthy

But then there are also users who got used to the new Windows interface quickly and who loved working on it.

Sheldon Skaggs, a web developer in Charlotte, North Carolina, thought he was going to hate Windows 8, but he needed to do something to speed up his 5-year-old laptop. So he installed the new software. 

"After a bit of a learning curve and playing around with it a bit more, you get used to it, surprisingly," he said.

The market had high hopes for Windows 8. Many users were keen on getting their hands on the new OS from Microsoft, and many investors bought the shares of Microsoft with the hopes that the prices would keep rising. But with the sales figures not meeting expectations, Microsoft's share price has been falling, and may continue to drop. 

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With Black Friday and Christmas coming up, we can expect the sales of Windows 8 devices to spike. But it will take new users some time to accept the changes made to their favorite operating system. 

What makes it more difficult for the sales of Windows 8 devices to rise is the availability of better products in the market.  Windows 8 has been designed primarily for devices with a touch interface. 

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), with its revolutionary iPad and iPhone, has already captured the hearts of millions. Apple’s iOS 6 has also been facing some issues with certain applications like Maps, but those can be easily fixed. iOS 6, unlike Windows 8, is not drastically different from its predecessors.  Hence Apple’s products will always find buyers.

Microsoft’s biggest market is the traditional PC. Though PC business would not last forever, it would have been better if a much more user friendly version of Windows 8 was released for PC. Apple knows the game of psychology. It has Mac OS for traditional computing devices like Desktops and laptops, while iOS is for touch-centric devices like the iPad and iPhone. This makes it very clear 'What is What,' and there is no confusion.

When it comes to a touch-centric operating system, Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android is yet another favorite. There are many OEMs developing products with Android as the operating system. If we look at figures, then the total number of Android devices sold worldwide is much more than the number iOS devices or Windows devices. Android is an open source OS and is highly fragmented. Hence, it is not widely accepted for businesses. But when it comes to consumer products, Android devices are the world’s favorite. Products with Jelly Bean, the latest version of Android, are already selling like hot cakes. Also, Google’s new Nexus series of devices are gaining popularity among smart phone users. 

We have to wait and watch if Windows 8 will ultimately be accepted by its users. It is highly possible that the sales figure may touch the sky, within a few months, if users readily accept the new interface. However, it is also possible that user dissatisfaction may hit the goodwill of Microsoft badly, and the software giant may see many more bad quarterly results. Traders can make quick bucks in the coming days. Go ahead, play your money and reap the benefits of price fluctuation.


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