ReadWrite Survey: Consumers Like Windows 8 & Surface, But Prefer Windows 7

A survey of 2,000 Internet users say they’re impressed with Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Surface tablet - but they still like Windows 7 even more.

In fact, according to a poll conducted by Toluna QuickSurveys for ReadWrite, users even prefer Windows XP over Windows 8. With that said, more users indicate that they’ll upgrade to Windows 8 than not, and the numbers of those saying they would buy new Windows 8 hardware outweighed those that said they were not likely to do.

Not Scientific - But Useful Data Points

Toluna doesn’t claim that the results are scientific, and the findings shouldn’t be considered a guarantee of the projected outcomes. Still, the survey represents one of the few early data points that indicate the success of Microsoft’s latest offerings into the consumer market.

RW asked six questions following the launch of Windows 8, trying to determine how, or if, consumers planned to shop for Windows 8 tablets and software over the short term. We also asked if consumers found the Windows 8 “Metro” interface confusing.

Unfortunately, we don’t know how many of those respondents have actually used Windows 8, although the number would probably be insignificant. Therefore, the survey is probably most telling from the perspective of the pre-release information Microsoft has released on Windows 8 and Surface, via its blogs as well as the press, plus its billion-dollar marketing blitz.

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Clearly, those who own a Windows PC plan to upgrade it to Windows 8. Note that, at least according to the poll, the majority of users run Windows.  One trend that you’ll see consistently throughout the poll, however, is that there are still a great number of undecided consumers, meaning that both Apple, Microsoft, and other vendors have a chance to attract these customers.

Again, good news for Microsoft and for PC makers in general. Again, it’s hard to know how many purchases this will translate into, but the radical new touchscreen PCs and tablets are tempting consumers to open their wallets.

This was one of the controversial questions. Is Windows 8’s interface confusing? Users who downloaded and used the preview version undoubtedly became more familiar with it, jumping back and forth between the live tiles and the more traditional desktop. Here, the results seem to indicate that more users than not find it confusing, although Toluna garbled the response format.

However, the numbers are still there, just not organized into a bar graph. Conclusion is that substantially more people than not consider the Metro interface confusing.

A nice win for Windows, but look which direction the data is skewing. Towards Windows RT? No, clearly not. Instead, Windows 8 appears to be dominating sentiment, pulling purchasing sentiment away from the iPad and Android tablets, of those who indicated that they plan to purchase.  So many more, however, don’t plan to upgrade or buy a new tablet. Based on the market, that means that they don’t plan to buy a tablet. Another interpretation is that they already own an iPad and are happy with it.

One of the more interesting results in our mini-survey. The majority of respondents are either not sure or don’t plan to buy a tablet. But for those that do, the poll is breaking toward the Surface with Windows 8, not Windows RT. And this poll was taken on Thursday, the day of the announcement. While Thursday night’s lines indicate a strong response for the Surface RT, a number of you are likely holding out for the full-fledged Windows 8 version.

It’s also bad news for other OEMs that plan to release a Windows tablet. Personally, I would have expected most respondents would buy a third-party notebook or tablet, but maybe the Surface is just the product to beat at the moment. Certainly, from a volume perspective, it has the most reviews.

What’s surprising here isn’t that Windows 7 and Windows 8 are the preferred operating systems, it’s that there’s such a preference for Windows XP, now over 11 years old. And while an expressed preference for Windows 7 over Windows 8 isn’t that surprising, that Windows XP would top Windows 7 is.

Methodology

Again, this study shouldn’t be considered scientific. Here’s the methodology:  The survey was conducted online within the United States on October 25, 2012 among 2000 adults aged 18 and over, selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Toluna QuickSurveys.  

Figures for age, sex, and region were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in Toluna surveys, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated, the company said.

Survey respondents were about equally divided between the 18-34, 35-54, and 55+ age groups. Over 50 percent of the survey responders had had at least some university background. More women (63 percent) than men answered the poll, compared to 50.8 percent of the U.S. population who are female.

One more time: we didn’t set out to scientifically determine how Windows 8 or the Surface would fare. But until we have the first sales numbers back in a few weeks or months, this is one of the data points we have to go on. And so far, it looks like Windows 8 is on the road to success. The success of the individual Surface versions, however, could be a more interesting story.