Microsoft's aching Windows 8 hangover

If Microsoft was looking for relief from the Windows 8 headache, it didn't get it from the holiday sales figures

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Brendan Barnicle, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, told the New York Times that tablets were sapping the growth of laptops, which represent the biggest chunk of computer sales. "Tablets are doing to the laptop market what laptops did to the desktop market," he said. "They're not going away."

Yoshihisa Toyosaki, a Tokyo-based analyst at Architect Grand Design, is even harsher. He told Bloomberg News that "we can't be optimistic about the PC industry. ... PC makers' bet on Windows 8 has failed, as cheaper tablet computers are taking away customers."

In the background, of course, is the continued softness in the global economy, particularly in Europe. Even in the best case, many consumers and businesses would be slow to replace existing PCs. Microsoft has not given individual buyers a reason to spend money on a product that's more expensive, heavier, and a lot less cool than a variety of mobile devices. As to businesses, Microsoft's decision to radically change the Windows UI means that users will have to be trained and will likely need ongoing support -- hardly a selling point.

Surface RT barely on the radar screen for online usage
Measuring the usage of devices is not the same as measuring sales, but it yields some insight into the popularity of different tablets. Judging by a new report from Chitika, Microsoft's Surface RT tablet barely makes an impression.

Chitika compared tablet impressions (that is, requested Web pages) from non-iPad devices against iPad impressions for the second week of December. Chitika's chart shows that Amazon's Kindle Fire did the best of the non-iPad tablets, generating 4.88 impressions per 100 iPad impressions. To be clear, that means that for every 100 pages called by an iPad, 4.88 were called by the Kindle Fire. Samsung's Galaxy tablets came in next with 3.04 impressions, and Google Nexus tablets came in third at 1.22 impressions. The Surface RT scored just 0.22 impression out of every 100 iPad impressions.

The soon-to-be-released Surface Pro, which runs Windows 8, will probably be more popular, but given its relatively high price, it doesn't seem likely to garner huge sales.

The Christmas selling season brought no joy to PC makers
I've never seen executives of major PC makers rain on Microsoft's parade the way they have in the last two months. Part of the reason is probably pique. Microsoft irritated its partners no end by taking the unusual step of manufacturing its own tablet and becoming their direct competitor.

If Windows machines were selling well, they'd get over it -- but it appears they are not. I don't know what Steve Ballmer did over the holidays, but it's a cinch it wasn't his best Christmas ever.

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This article, "Microsoft's aching Windows 8 hangover," was originally published by Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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