The question is, sold to whom? OEMs building systems they hope consumers might eventually buy? Microsoft has yet to break down the numbers into OEM, retail sales, or upgrades. And when it does, expect them to be served with a healthy helping of fudge, writes InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard.
Blogger Paul Thurrott, who is generally pretty gung-ho when it comes to Redmond products, reports that the company has not met its internal sales projections. He offers a few guesses as to why:
Microsoft's new whatever-the-F-it-is operating system is a confusing, Frankenstein's monster mix of old and new that hides a great desktop upgrade under a crazy Metro front-end. It's touch-first, as Microsoft says, but really it's touch whether you want it or not (or have it or not), and the firm's inability to give its own customers the choice to pick which UI they want is what really makes Windows 8 confounding to users.
The fact that Microsoft released two largely incompatible versions of Windows 8 at the same time and decided to compete directly with its OEM partners for customers has not helped, Thurrott adds.
Leonhard, who is not by any stretch of the imagination a fan of Windows 8, sees a few possible silver linings for Microsoft. One is the commercial availability of true Windows 8 (not RT) Surface tablets later this month, which may give Microsoft a fighting chance in enterprises that crave and fear the Apple iPad in equal measure. Another is the fact that most of the Win8 users haven't yet tried the Metro interface, which could work in Microsoft's favor. He writes:
If Microsoft can come up with a compelling reason for everyday consumers to actually use Metro -- yes, that's a big "if" -- there's certainly a lot of room for increased sales. Coming up with an app that everybody wants is one whole heckuvalot easier than coming up with a new Windows, and it looks like very few people have even dipped their toes in the Metro gene pool.
Then there's the whole "bring the Start menu back to Windows 8" movement, which doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. So maybe there's hope yet for Microsoft -- and for frustrated users like my friend Dave.
Are you now or do you plan to ever become a user of Windows 8? Confess your unsavory affiliations below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article, "The great Windows 8 debate," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.