In the roughly two months since the release of Windows 8, the adoption rate of Microsoft's latest flagship operating system appears to be trailing Window Vista, until now the slowest OS rollout in the software giant's recent history.
Data compiled by Web analytics firm Net Applications put Windows 8's online usage share at just under 1.6 percent through Dec. 22 as measured in relation to all desktop and laptop PC operating systems. Microsoft made its next-gen PC and tablet platform available on Oct. 26. Computerworld's Gregg Keizer tabbed back through the data to find that Vista, after the same period of time following its 2007 release, had shown up on 2.2 percent of all Windows systems (you can access the same data by clicking back through the Net Application report).
More bad news for Microsoft—the adoption of Windows 8 on PCs only grew by about 0.4 percentage points from Nov. 22 to Dec. 22. In the second month after Vista's release, adoption of the much maligned OS had doubled from the end of its first month, Keizer noted.
Net Applications also measures the online usage share of operating systems for all major computing system device types, including smartphones, tablets, and game consoles in addition to PCs. When you account for all of those hardware platforms, Microsoft's flashy new OS currently has about a 1.4 percent share of the overall OS market.
Other researchers and even some Microsoft OEM partners have recently warned that the uptake of Windows 8 was proceeding slowly in the early going, though Redmond said in late November that it had already sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses.
An overall decline in new PC sales in 2012 relative to corresponding growth in the sales of mobile devices like tablets and smartphones may partially account for the seeming discrepancy between Microsoft's story and that of some key hardware partners. It's not clear how many of the tens of millions of Windows 8 license sales the software giant has reported were for brand-new PCs, tablets, and a new class of hybrid devices versus upgrades on previously owned systems.
If Windows 8's initial adoption rate appears to be moving at an almost glacial pace, it's almost unimaginable that the new OS will follow Vista's disastrous path for too long. Nearly six years after Vista's release—and more than three years after the release of Service Pack 2, the bridge between Windows XP and Windows 7 has a meager 5.49 percent share of the desktop OS market, according to Net Application.
The analytics firm currently has Windows 7 with a 45.6 percent share of the PC operating system market while the amazingly enduring Windows XP—easily Microsoft's most successful enterprise product ever—was holding on to just over 39 percent through Dec. 22.
With Microsoft planning to pull in release dates of future-generation Windows platforms —Windows 9, code named Blue, could be coming as soon as mid-2013 —it may be that Redmond never again owns the market so fully with a single OS as it did with XP or even Windows 7 for that matter.
Even so, Windows 8 surely can't fare as poorly as Vista has ... can it?
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