Harry McCracken for Time:
Windows 8 was never (primarily) about driving PC sales for the 2012 holiday season. It’s a long bet on a future in which most PCs have touch capability and many of them are tablets. As such, any current conclusions about how it’s doing are hopelessly premature.
Sure, it’s a long bet in that anything and everything is a long bet. But the issue here is threefold.
First, Microsoft clearly has their own internal goals when it comes to sales. What Paul Thurrott reported based on his sources inside the company is that they’re “well below” those numbers and find the actual numbers “disappointing”.
Second, this is one of the pillars of Microsoft’s entire business. You can’t just say, “we’ll see if sales will come”. If they don’t, even at first, we’re talking about millions and maybe even billions of dollars that may be evaporating before our very eyes.
Third, do we really expect the numbers to get that much better? Why? I guess you could argue that businesses will get pushed hard and sold on the idea of upgrading eventually, but it’s going to be a very long road there. I would not hold my breath.
That leaves consumers. Are they going to talk themselves into Windows 8 over time? Again, why? Because touch becomes more mainstream? It’s already mainstream — on phones and tablets. I believe Microsoft made a fundamental miscalculation in trying to cram the touch elements and legacy point-and-click elements together in Windows 8. That’s the problem.
Maybe you think new PC sales are going to push Windows 8 over the top? Yeah, those numbers continue to go the wrong way. Why does that change? Certainly not because of Windows 8, as we’re seeing.
I was talking to a friend yesterday who was visiting a Microsoft Store for the first time. It was more or less empty, he told me. A giant store filled with products not being touched. Meanwhile, right next door was a small Apple Store that had a queue for people waiting to go inside. One store, sure. But this is how it’s playing out. Again, I just don’t see why that changes.
[via Daring Fireball]