It's unexciting. Boring, really. That's what detractors of Microsoft's Windows 8 are saying. And those comments are showing up at the register, as retailers are also blaming slower than expected sales on a weak market.
It's a sign of the times. At one point a new operating system got people to buy new computers. But those days may be behind us. As 2013 approaches, consumers seem to be more into hardware instead of software. And that means tablets and mobile devices. Not the platforms that make them run.
And with a still-tumultuous economy, people are sticking with the computers they have, not rushing to upgrade. The numbers seem to back this up, as sales of Windows 8 are off 13% compared to 2011 Windows 7 sales, according to research firm NPD. Mix this with heavy competition from Apple, Amazon and a slew of others and it becomes less and less surprising that the PC business, which once dominated the lion's share of tech sales, continues to struggle.
It's a very real rivalry fought and won in retail dollars, and the first-born isn't winning handily any more. The shift in consumer mentality and sales is moving more and more to tablets and smartphones over computers. These devices are also essential to the long-term success of Microsoft, which redesigned its new operating system to incorporate a tile-interface made for touchscreen functionality, yet flexible enough for traditional laptop and desktop devices. But that change has been met with sharp thorns, as critics have been disappointed with the user interface in lieu of the new tile structure alongside the old desktop version.
Is this the death knell for Windows 8? Not so fast. There seems to be one more hope on the horizon: The introduction of a slew of new Windows 8 devices slated for 2013 launch. But that's a long way away in both retail and calendar time, so slower sales now are not a harbinger for a happy Microsoft holiday season.
Image courtesy of Microsoft.