As Microsoft announces that it has sold 100 million copies of Windows 8, we ask ourselves is this the end for the PC? Microsoft has celebrated the milestone for their OS that was launched late last year, the figure is more of a long term goal than a user frenzied rush to embrace Windows 8. Microsoft had always looked to be considering Windows 8 as a longterm project – especially as it is their first ‘real’ move into the world of touch screen computing (apart from Windows Phone). 100 million is a healthy figure, but a look at the month on month uptake of Windows 8 shows that their sales stagnate at 10 million copies a month.
Microsoft has faced a storm of complaints from hardcore PC users to basic consumers about the design interface of their latest OS. Windows 8 does away with the desktop and replaces the start menu with a start screen that would be more accustom on the likes of a tablet. And that is just it, Microsoft has built their OS for a touch screen generation – hoping, slightly desperately, that manufacturers would support them by upping touchscreen PC production. But this hasn’t happened. Microsoft is is expected to ship an update to their OS, codenamed Windows Blue, will bring wanted improvements to business and consumer users. The update will bring variety of form factors, display size compatibility fixes and the odd UI facelift.
“The Windows Blue update is also an opportunity for us to respond to the customer feedback that we’ve been closely listening to since the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT,” said Tami Reller, Microsoft’s chief marketing officer and chief financial officer.
Microsoft shipped two versions of Windows to meet ‘demand’ – Windows RT is Microsofts attempt to woe the budget market alongside their Surface hardware. The decline in PC sales has been attributed to Windows 8 and the sharp user learning curve needed to operate the system. Reller did not comment directly on the update but hinted at its official launch name “Windows 8.1”. Windows 8.1 is said to be coming to ARM and Intel based chips. Windows Blue will be available in the upcoming months and is said to address the user complaints that Microsoft has accumulated since its launch. Nevertheless the press have taken Microsofts apparent, general spring clean of their OS to a more serious level. The Financial Times echoes Microsofts “failure” with Windows 8 and highlights the likely public backlash they’ll receive. But for once, I think they may be right. Microsoft had been adamant that Windows 8 was ‘right’ for the PC and it was the future of the way we interact with a computer. If we are to believe Ballmer and his crew then the world isn’t ready for future computing. Microsoft have made a slip up and this will cost not just Microsoft but Steve Ballmer too. Microsoft will take major losses to their reputation and Ballmer will be in the firing line at the u-turn on their flagship product. Microsoft can sit tight and hope for the best, but the rumours now suggest it will likely try to regain some trust in the next Windows ‘Blue’ update. PC users have faced difficulties adapting to the new software and Microsoft made it even worse when failing to train staff in use of their own OS to be able to assist baffled users.
At a time when I find myself in the position for shopping for a suitable PC or at least PC components to repair our ‘old banger” of a desktop – it is quite interesting to study Microsofts once concrete relationship with the traditional PC fade away into more of a depleted marriage on the brink of divorce. Microsoft has strewn away the users who had remained loyal to them, fought through the woes of Vista and battled the many viruses and security loopholes. Windows 8’s biggest downfall is merely its shear incompetence in failing to provide for the user who doesn’t have a tablet PC. I for one will not be upgrading to Windows 8 once I have found myself a decent hard drive and will safely stick to the knowledgeable realms of Windows 7. Microsoft and Steve Ballmer have not yet realised the potential damage this u-turn may do to their company. But Ballmer better realise soon – it is his job on the line. Microsoft is hoping that the next update to their OS should remedy the mistakes and kiss the wounds better, we hope so too. We will wait to see if they can bring it back from the brink, or go apocalyptic.
Windows 8 Image courtesy of ungeeked, DevianArt.