A few years ago, when Windows 7 was the next-gen operating system from Microsoft, study after study was bandied about in the technology press, talking about how this business and that business was looking forward to the release, and how they’d decided to skip Vista over all the controversy that surrounded it.
Jump forward to Windows 8, and Microsoft isn’t finding the waters quite so warm.
According to Forrester Research, only 33% of survey respondents were expecting to use Microsoft’s new software. At this same time in the Windows 7 launch frame, that number was 66%. Back then, only 27% of respondents hadn’t investigated moving to Win7, while that number jumps to 47% for Windows 8. Perhaps most devastatingly, only 1% of businesses had planned to skip upgrading to Windows 7 altogether – that number rises to 10% for businesses with respect to Windows 8.
The newspaper quotes a number of sources as saying that tablets have cut into the companies’ upgrade paths, with easier to use interfaces and less trouble for IT departments (it’s difficult for an end user to mess with core iPad software). It’s true for many others, too – keeping an older laptop and using a tablet has become a standard use case for businesses and consumers alike.
Also at issue is the fact that Windows 8 represents a dramatic shift in both experience and interface from prior generations of the operating system. Many users take issue with the drastic changes – from Start Menu to Start Screen, most notably – but then, many users always complain when a company makes a noticeable change to its software (how many people complain bitterly every time Facebook makes a minor modification, for example).
One thing that the article doesn’t mention, however, (nor do the surveys, as far as we can tell) is Windows Vista.
Vista was bogged down by numerous complaints from end users, from enterprise customers, from computer experts and computer novices, and was even struck by criticism from Microsoft executives. The software didn’t quite deserve all the hoots and hollers (more than a little bit of trouble came from the fact that chipsets were certified to run the OS that never should have been), but that’s beside the point – the experience poisoned millions of users against the OS, and as a result, businesses skipped the release by the bucketload.
Sufficient numbers of enterprise customers skipped it that when Windows 7 was released, a global surge in the PC market was felt by everyone in the industry. Windows 7 was well received by just about every person on the market. So many businesses upgraded their networks, in fact, that desktop growth actually outpaced notebook growth for the first time in years.
So it’s true – many customers are looking to skip Windows 8. But that doesn’t mean that Windows 8 is bad (it isn’t). It doesn’t mean that it changes the way people interact with their PCs (it does).
All it means is that Windows 7 is good, and nothing more.