In light of that, it wouldn’t be untoward to describe Windows 8’s marketplace performance as a disaster: Not only does the platform continue to lag behind Windows 7 and Windows XP, but new data from Net Applications hints that it’s actually lost incremental market share over the past two months.
“While in June Windows 8′s user share came dangerously close to the sluggish uptake tempo of Windows Vista, in July Windows 8′s pace fell below Vista’s for the first time,” Gregg Keizer wrote on ComputerWorld. “That Windows 8′s uptake performance has not matched Vista’s is important because the latter, widely panned at the time, has earned a reputation as one of Microsoft’s biggest OS failures.”
Even if Net Applications’ numbers are off, the fact that Windows 8 hasn’t yet overcome Windows XP could be construed as something of an embarrassment for Microsoft, which has spent the past several quarters trying to convince the world to give up the aging XP in favor of a newer operating system. But even cutting off official support for XP hasn’t dissuaded millions of people and countless businesses from using it.
Windows 8’s marketplace failure also exerts a drag on the broader Windows ecosystem. When Microsoft first announced Windows 8, it had high hopes that third-party developers, tantalized by the prospect of Windows’ massive installed base, would build a wide variety of apps for the platform. Within a year and a half of Windows 8’s release, however, its Windows Store featured only 150,000 apps—not exactly a blockbuster number, when one considers the hundreds of thousands of apps populating the Google Android and iOS app stores. At the time, InfoWorld (citing data from MetroScore Scanner) even suggested that the number of apps posted to the Windows Store was on the decline.
Why did Windows 8 crash and burn so spectacularly? Pundits and analysts have widely blamed it on Microsoft’s decision to give the operating system a dual interface: In addition to the “traditional” desktop, Windows 8 features a Start screen filled with colorful, touch-friendly tiles linked to applications, the better to operate on tablets. Many customers who loved the desktop interface found the Start screen a confusing addition and decided to stick with their current OS rather than upgrade; meanwhile, those in the market for a new tablet didn’t find the colorful tiles a compelling enough reason to switch from their iPad or Android device.
But at least Windows 8 (combined with its upgrade, 8.1) has surpassed Windows Vista’s overall market share. Now that would have been an embarrassment.
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