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Biz users, hard-up punters: Nobody loves Windows 8

Touch is for consumers but consumers won't touch lonely Microsoft OS

Windows 8 was never expected to set the business world alight in the short term - maybe not even in the long term - and indeed it hasn't, official sales figures from distributors reveal.

In the consumer PC space Microsoft and its hardware adversaries mates did a quick job of transitioning from Windows 7 kit, with roughly three-quarters of systems sold based on the latest OS by Christmas.

In December, excluding New Year's Eve, less than 17 per cent of biz computers that were shipped ran on Windows 8 compared to more than half of systems (53.3 per cent) in the like-for-like period with Windows 7.

One reason suggested by channel analyst Context's CEO Jeremy Davies is that many firms skipped Vista and and PC vendors sensed some pent-up demand for Windows 7 - causing them to shift gears more quickly.

"Vista was a raging cock-up," said Davies. "Microsoft learned lessons from it for Windows 7 in terms of pricing and versions."

He reckons major rollouts of Windows 7 only started in 2011 so it will be some time yet before corporations begin considering an OS upgrade.

"What benefit does Windows 8 offer for business users? Not much. Windows 8 is all about touch and touch is all about [appealing to] consumers," Davies told us.

"During 2013 we won't see much adoption of Windows 8 in business," he added.

This week Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu forecast that Windows 8 will help to drive up PC sales by around 2 per cent in 2013. Underpinning this slow adoption curve is the big change in the user interface.

He expects the growth levels of the Asian PC vendors to overshadow HP and Dell due to their "lower cost, strong volume growth in emerging markets, and initiatives in expanding channels and partnerships".

Yesterday, analyst Canalys revealed that Windows 8 had failed to "reinvigorate" the dash for growth in Q4 as global sales of desktops, notebooks and netbooks across all market sectors declined 10 per cent.

The analyst said Windows 8 was a big change from 7. Canalys' Tom Evans, research analyst, added: "Most consumers will be put off by the thought of having to learn a new OS."

Another barrier for hard-pressed consumers is the higher costs of touch-enabled PCs: "In the current economic climate, this will be enough to make people delay purchases and they wait for prices to fall," said Evans.

For its part, Microsoft this week said it had sold 60 million copies of Windows 8 - but this could include free upgrades from more recently bought Windows 7 machines, and it could also include companies with Enterprise Agreements which are entitled to deploy Win 8 but haven't necessarily done so. ®

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