Not long ago I wrote a post on ways you can avoid Microsoft’s Windows 8 OS. That got some of you pretty mad, but some folks clearly shared my dislike for “Windows Frankenstein.” Apparently, the message from consumers and many tech writers is getting through to PC makers: Hewlett-Packard, one of the biggest PC producers, has just launched a marketing campaign touting its line of Windows 7 laptops and desktops.
Other PC makers advertise some Windows 7 PCs, but HP seems to be making a point of openly sticking it to Microsoft. In marketing material on its home page you see an ad for HP PCs with the cheeky headline: “Back by popular demand.” Adding insult to injury, it’s the very first thing you see on the page.
(Michael Thacker, HP’s chief spokesman, told me that the company isn’t sticking it to Microsoft but merely “giving some customers a choice they’ve asked for. It’s not unusual to sell a mix of operating systems.”)
In any case, the public’s dislike for Windows 8 has been well documented as PC sales plunged by 10 percent last year, according to IDC and Gartner. Not all, or even most, of that decline is attributable to Windows 8 hate; hot sales of tablets are a much more significant cause. Nonetheless, some thought the OS would help reverse the slide, but it has only made it worse.
If you go to HP’s website and click on the ad for Windows 7 machines, you’ll see that the selection is pretty slim: just five systems, versus nearly 70 systems with Windows 8 or 8.1. All of the Windows 7 PCs are equipped with Intel’s latest generation of microprocessors, known as “fourth generation” or Haswell, and are being offered at a discount of $150.
“A lot of people have a very bad impression of Windows 8, even if they haven’t used it,” says Bob O’Donnell, chief analyst with Technalysis Research. “Its reputation precedes it.”
Most businesses are still buying Windows 7 PCs, a fairly typical pattern since moving large numbers of users to a new operating system is a lengthy and expensive process, says O’Donnell. But continuing to sell consumer PCs with an old operating system is a noteable break from the usual pattern.
San Francisco journalist Bill Snyder writes frequently about business and technology. His work appears regularly in CIO.com and the publications of Stanford's Graduate School of Business and the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. He welcomes your comments and suggestions.