by Shane O'Neill

Windows 8 Adoption Predictions: Bad Times Ahead

Dec 07, 20113 mins
Computers and PeripheralsLaptopsOperating Systems

Windows 8 is definitely not a sure thing on tablets, and it might not even be a sure thing on PCs, according to analysts.

Windows 8, the OS that may or may not usher Microsoft into the tablet era, took two hard hits from top analyst firms this week.

First, IDC. As part of its 2012 tech predictions (in a report titled “Worldwide System Infrastructure Software 2012 Top 10 Predictions”), IDC listed Windows 8 as largely irrelevant to traditional PC users, adding that the OS will not present a persuasive case to upgrade from Windows 7.

IDC’s prediction that there is no real motivation to upgrade Windows 7 machines to Windows 8 is not surprising. But it still left a sting coming from a firm of IDC’s stature. (It’s worth noting that Microsoft has vowed to make Windows 8 upgrades the simplest and fastest ever).

The prediction makes sense. The new tile-based Metro interface of Windows 8 is clearly designed for the multi-touch capability of a tablet. While this design may be exciting on a tablet, it does not offer anything that would pull Windows 7 PC users away from what has been a satisfying experience.

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In fact, the Windows 8 Metro UI may be too much of a change, and will turn off Windows 7 consumers and enterprise users because it is so different looking.

IDC research VP Al Gillen said as much this week in a Computerworld story:

“Customers will be asking ‘What value does Windows 8 bring to my desktops and laptops?’ and the only real benefit I can see is that it provides access to the Windows app store,” Gillen said.

This week Microsoft announced its Windows Store at a San Francisco event this week; Windows Store is an app market for Windows 8 that will open to the public when the Windows 8 beta ships in late February 2012.

IDC also predicts that application compatibility will be an issue with Windows 8 mainly because ISVs will now have a new Metro UI to develop apps around and will have a hard time getting Metro-enabled. Enterprises, in particular, are just now upgrading to Windows 7. Migration fatigue is high and many will not be in the mood to take a chance on Windows 8 and its bold new user interface.

But even if Windows 8 PCs are bust, the new OS should be a blockbuster on tablets, right? Not so fast, states research firm Forrester in the report “Microsoft’s Shrinking Windows for Tablets.” While Forrester is bullish on Windows 8 as a product and believes Microsoft is doing a fine job getting hardware partners and developers excited about the OS, the research firm questions whether consumers will even care about Windows 8 tablets by the time it is available in the second half of 2012.

“Windows 8 hasn’t entered the consciousness of tablet buyers yet,” writes Forrester analyst and report author JP Gownder. “The cautionary tale here for Windows’ product strategists is that mindshare is low and falling — many months before their products will ever hit the market.”

The firm cites its own survey that shows plummeting interest in Windows tablets this year. In Q1 2011, 46 percent of thousands of online consumers surveyed preferred Windows on a tablet, and by Q3 only 25 percent felt that way.

In the same period, interest in iPads and Android tablets nearly doubled.

In the first half of 2012, Microsoft will be turning the Windows 8 volume up to 11. But as we wind down 2011, Redmond took a double whammy from influential tech research firms. And the long and the short of it: If Windows 8 fails in tablets and is a non-starter on PCs, the next two years could be a tough row to hoe for Microsoft.