'We couldn’t afford to make lots of product, lots of high-priced touch'
PC makers, though, are hitting back after Redmond's finger-pointing - countering that if they’d followed Microsoft’s advice they’d have ended up building very expensive tablets and would have been saddled with the costs of a huge piles of unsold units. Those who did buy Windows 8 PCs ultimately bought the cheap laptops not high-end Ultrabooks or hybrids.
One Reg source told us Microsoft isn’t blaming OEMs publicly, but doing so in private in meetings assisted with PowerPoint presentations. “There was a big debate, and we said: 'It’s not like that.' We couldn’t afford to make lots of product, lots of high-priced touch. We found people would look at nice high-end products and buy £299 devices instead,” the contact said.
The source also criticised the Hero PC and Featured PC programmes, calling the process "opaque".
The PC makers also blame Microsoft for sowing confusion with its Surface tablet. Among the manufacturers, it is perceived that the Microsoft-branded slab failed to educate users about the new touch user interface and distracted the software giant - leading to its failure to put adequate marketing muscle behind the launch of ordinary Windows 8 PCs.
The European launch of Windows 8 lacked the punch and focus expected by PC makers, as Microsoft focussed much of its efforts on the US and Surface.
“Microsoft is not blaming itself for not selling enough Surface, it’s blaming OEMs for not having enough touch-based product,” our supply chain source said.
The Reg asked Microsoft to comment on its sales in the final quarter of 2012. We also asked what the company believes is responsible for the fact Windows 8 didn't have a "significant" impact - as per Gartner's statement. El Reg also quizzed the firm on whether it believes more touch would help sales of PCs in Q1 and Q2 of 2013, and which steps Microsoft taking now.
Finally, we asked what guidance Microsoft had provided manufacturers.
In a statement attributed to Windows business planning general manager Bernardo Caldas, Microsoft said it works closely with hardware partners on a list of selected devices which it believes “people will love and that showcase the best of the Windows 8 user experience. This is not a new process for Windows”.
On those Q4 sales, Microsoft claimed 60 million Windows 8 licences had been sold to date - pointing to comments made by Windows division chief financial officer and chief marketing officer Tami Reller at a JP Morgan conference.
Microsoft did say that the figure of 60 million could be attributed to upgrades and sales to manufacturers – so not sales of actual PCs to the end user. Reller had claimed the 60 million was “roughly in line with where we would have been with Windows 7".
On the plans to help Q1 and Q2 sales and of a marketing reboot, Microsoft reckoned it was pleased with uptake of Windows 8 and said: “We work closely with our OEM partners to put a great hardware assortment that brings Windows 8 experiences to life at the center of our marketing campaigns – three key hardware refresh and selling timeframes for OEMs and Microsoft campaigns continue to be: spring, back to school and holiday.
"As market conditions evolve, we will continue to work in tandem with PC makers on creating successful and compelling campaigns.” ®