Why is Windows 8 a Flop?

sinking shipAlthough I’m now primarily a Mac user at home, that had nothing to do with a dislike for Windows. In fact, I loved Windows 7. Shortly after its release, I installed it on both of my personal machines, and I was one of the early adopters at the office. In years past, I would have been eager to install Windows 8 on my remaining Windows machine and on my Windows 7 partition on my Mac, given my affliction with G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). I haven’t felt that urge for Windows 8, and it appears that most other users have felt the same way. Based on some recent data, it seems that Windows 8 is a flop. Why?

ExtremeTech recently reported on Windows 8’s dismal adoption rate.

In the month of February, according to Net Applications, Windows 8 gained 0.4% of the desktop market, moving from 2.26 to 2.67%. In comparison, Windows 7 had a market share of over 9% after four months of public availability. A growth rate of 0.4% is absolutely horrendous, and — if we assume that PCs are replaced every five years — actually below the natural attrition/replacement rate. If growth of 0.4% wasn’t bad enough, it’s also worth pointing out that it’s down from 0.5% in January — yes, Windows 8 adoption is slowing down. Windows 7, after a small dip last month, actually gained market share in February.

I’m not a sales analyst, and I don’t use Windows 8, so I’m not going to pretend to have a clue as to the reasons for the slow adoption. My guesses are just that – guesses based upon various reviews. Based on those reviews, I can speak to my own reasons for not feeling the need to kick the tires on Windows 8. Here’s my take:

1. People don’t like too much change. By all reports, Windows 8 is a drastic change from any prior version of Windows. Whether Microsoft is ahead of the times, or just missed the ball entirely, Windows 8 was too much of a move.

2. Mobile and Desktop should be two different experiences. Unlike Microsoft, I’m not sold on the idea that the mobile experience and desktop experience are interchangeable. I cringe whenever I hear that Mac’s OS X will gradually become more like iOS. The two experiences are different, and require different user interfaces.

3. Mobile is killing off the desktop. I’ve heard it and you’ve heard it. Mobile is on the rise, and the desktop is dying. Not good for a company whose bread and butter is the desktop.

4. Too expensive. After spending $20 for the latest OS X upgrade, I have a hard justifying spending 5 times that amount on a product with mixed reviews.

4. Bad marketing. I haven’t tried Windows 8, so points 1 through 3 could just be based on bad press. Am I off base, and Microsoft has just done a bad job at marketing Windows 8? Should I bite the bullet and purchase Windows 8?


I’m willing to admit that my opinion is uninformed, and I’m giving an opinion from the outside looking in, since I haven’t tried Windows 8. If you have tried Windows 8, let me know if I’ve completely missed the boat.

Image from mad maven via stock.xchng

Evan Kline

Hello, I'm Evan. I write about tech from my perspective – that of the average 40-something tech geek. You can also find me on Twitter and at my real-life job as a lawyer.    MORE ABOUT ME.


  1. Trust you meant “willing to admit” rather than “willing to omit,” especially since you’ve already admitted to offering guesses,

  2. I happen to agree that Windows 8 may be too great a leap from Win7. Until now each iteration of the GUI has been an evolution built on its predecessors. Win8 looks like (I am also not informed through use of the new version) an abandonment of the past that risks leaving many users by the wayside. I was happy to be an early adopter of Win 7, but Win 8 may just be the straw on the proverbial camel’s back. Mac and Chrome are looking better all the time.

  3. That was not much variety comparingly with Win 7 only Apps are new in that nothing else …

  4. I like Windows 8. I admit though, I had nearly a year of use in the pre-release to get used to it. At first, when I tried it, I was put off and a little weirded out by the colour scheme and the boxes and the drag up to get past the lock screen — I wasn’t using a touch interface, after all. Once I got used to it, however, I found I really enjoyed it.

    It’s on the machine my 4yr old uses a lot, and she really likes it as well. Very easy for her to get to what she wants, ans she thinks it’s pretty. :)

  5. I think you pretty much summed it up in the first point: “People don’t like too much change.” When people see the ads demoing Windows 8, they compare it to their experience with 7 or Vista, etc, and conclude “that ain’t Windows!”

    Interestingly though, I hear a lot of people who felt the same way but when they made a full transition to the new OS, they found that it was actually quite nice.

    So, it could ultimately come down to a marketing challenge for Microsoft.

  6. Hi…
    I have Windows 8, and i’m happy with it…

    Yes, the start screen is something new… but after a little time you will learn to use it…

    For the Launch Windows 8 Pro it was sell at 29.9. € (I’m Italian)

    Maybe, the reasons for the “Flop” of windows 8 are.

    Mobile wins over desktop, and in mobile Android and iPhone are the killing OSs.

    I have bought Windows 8 directly from microsoft.com, on january 2013, the system is very fast, light and powerful…

    Microsoft should sell at least basic OS at a low price.

  7. This kind of situation happened before,when Vista was introduced and users didn’t want to move from XP to Vista bcz XP operating system was better then Vista.

  8. Windows 8 is more different from the previous windows, as it supposed not to be like that different in GUI. Everything needs time to settle. I think the new window need much of our time to get use to it and start enjoying while using it. I used once and than came back to windows7. I dont have much time to learn operating systems. why not giving time to my own designing projects :).

  9. I really didn’t like Windows 8 when I first started using it. However, I have had a chance to play around with it a little bit and I really like it now. It takes some adjusting, but it has its perks.

    • I really wish it were cheaper. If so, I’d give it a try. It’s a secondary OS for me, though, so I can’t really justify dropping that kind of money. The price really isn’t competitive in a world of upgrades that are cheap (OS X) or free (Linux).

  10. I’m a power user and use 2 monster monitors. The whole idea of getting lots of screen real estate was to be able to have several resizable windows open and visible simultaneously.

    The new Windows 8 apps that will only operate full-screen (or that weird feature where you can create 4 sub-fullscreens) would make it impossible to use my machine for what I want it to do. In fact, on the largest monitor, full screen just looks ridiculous, you can’t even look at the whole window and follow your workflow.

    Microsoft’s endgame seems to be to get the PC user integrated into the smartphone/tablet closed world of “apps,” which must be bought only from the company controlling a closed “app store” ecosystem (MS probably has iTunes envy :)

    People who want to be productive, though, they don’t count.

    They’re not usefull mass-market sheep for the suits at MS who are panicking because they missed the captive app store train when it was leaving the station.

    Here’s a great evaluation of why Win 8 is so bad for productivity


    As John Dvorak put it “Has Microsoft developed a hatred for productivity?”

    • I wasn’t aware of the problem with full-screen apps. Macs have a similar issue, as you can only have one fullscreen app open at a time. You can expand more than one app to fill a screen, but can’t go into official full-screen mode with more than one app at a time.

      • I think full screen apps are a false problem…

        Windows 8 have the desktop as every windows….
        Desktop application work as ever…

        I have two monitor… un lcd 22 inch 16/9… and an old 17 inch crt as secondary monitor…
        I have desktop icons as always
        I can have multiple windows on my monitor as always…

        photoshop work as always
        chrome work as always or if you prefer you can use like a full screen app…

        I admit that the first time i used windows 8 i feel very frustrated… but it was a version in a laptop with many others software that often are installated in the oem versions by the manufacturers…

        when i have install my windows 8 in my pc…
        it went all good…
        all is working… and since i have installed i do not come back to win 7
        still present in another hard disk…

  11. I will be eager to know what direction MS takes with the next version- a massive step in a new direction, or a revision.

    • I did read something last week that said that Microsoft is bringing back the Start button in the next version of Windows. I guess that could be a rumor, though.

  12. I haven’t used Windows 8 yet, but I have heard the same: that it’s not as “functional” or “advanced” as Windows would like it to be. I’m keeping an open mind, though. Thanks for this info, Evan.

    • I’m trying to keep an open mind, too. For me, it’s really more about the cost – I can’t justify spending that when there are cheaper alternatives that I use more.

  13. Hey Ev – just discovered your blog – love it. Recently bought some new hardware for the biz this year, so can give my two cents. I thought Windows 8 would be a disaster, and hated the idea of a touch screen for business purposes. I need the ability to use a mouse for precision point-and-click – constantly updating spreadsheets all day and what-not. Started using Windows 7 earlier this year, thought it was a huge upgrade from my old XP environments (skipped Vista and all generations in between). Then purchased a Windows 8 preloaded Dell laptop with touch screen, and then a Windows 8 Dell without touch screen. Did NOT want Windows 8. But after a few weeks, behold, I actually LOVE Windows 8! I have learned just enough tricks to get around, and must say that I find myself using a combination of touch screen gestures on my laptop along with the mouse, for my Windows 8 touchscreen laptop. For my Windows 8 laptop without touch screen, it actually took a little longer but now that I figured out how to use the swipe gestures the right way, it really is quite easy to navigate and most importantly, I feel it increases my productivity. I am most concerned with 1) stability of system (no crashes) and 2) ease of use leading to better productivity. I can say that Windows 8 makes me very happy on BOTH accounts, whether I’m using a touch screen laptop or non-touch screen machine. I am quite amazed that I feel this way, as I have been a hater of Windows for many decades. But as I am Mac-adverse and need Windows office products for biz, I am forced to constantly use Microsoft products. Ultimately, I’m so happy with Windows 8 that I recently purchased a Microsoft Surface Pro laptop/tablet, and I can tell you in a different post how much I am thrilled so far with this purchase.

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