Windows 8 is Dead in the Water. Or is it?

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Four months after Microsoft launched Windows 8, its progress is, well … there is no progress. That’s if you believe one set of analytics. If you look at another set, it’s doing rather well.

The first measure comes from Net Applications, a Web analytics firm. Worldwide, it has sensors on more than 40,000 business Web sites and 2.5 million personal sites, such as blogs. From these sensors, it provides a monthly view of the global computing platform.

And the view on Windows 8 is bad. Net Applications puts its global use at 2.67%, up just slightly from the 2.26% in January. That’s growth on the scale of a redwood tree. In the same time period, Windows 7 actually ticked up marginally, from 44.48% to 44.55%.

But then there’s the other side of the coin. Steam, the game delivery platform from Valve Software used to sell videogames electronically, does its own set of analytics. The analytics are heavily skewed toward home users and gamers in the U.S., as opposed to the broad view taken by Net Applications.

Steam’s monthly survey shows Windows 8 sitting at a comfortable 9.5%, putting it ahead of Vista with 5.5%. Windows 7 in both 32-bit and 64-bit are hanging comfortably at 69%.

Vince Vizzacarro, executive vice president of Net Applications, says it’s not fair to compare the last two versions of Windows. “The mass media is saying [Windows 8] is a horrible flop, but I look at it that when 7 came out, Vista that was the flop. There hadn’t been a well-liked version of Windows launched in a while, so the built up demand is why Windows 7 did so well,” he said.

On the flip side, he echoes the sentiment of a lot of users. “I don’t have a strong desire to change out of Windows 7.”

He says the poor showing for Windows 8 is attributable to a slow market in general and Windows 8 not being a breakout product. “It’s not that Windows 8 isn’t selling at all, it’s just not selling faster than the rest of the market. Are they selling Windows 8? Yes. Faster than other products? Not by much,” he said.

As evidence he pointed to Mac use. Apple has been on a roll, although it’s iOS devices that are carrying the bulk of company sales. Still, Macs have enjoyed a renaissance of sorts and a bit of a halo effect with other hot-selling Apple products. Mac use in August 2012 was 7.13%, while in February it was 7.17%. So Apple is also in a holding pattern.

If anything is making a pitiful showing, it’s Windows RT, Microsoft’s tablet OS. For March, Net Applications has iOS with 54.9% of the mobile/tablet market, Android devices at 25.6% and the rest a mish-mash of platforms, mostly Symbian and Java. Windows RT is at an embarrassing 0.02%.

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