Windows 8 has less pre-release users than Windows 7 did- Does it matter?

Yesterday I spoke a little about the survey that allegedly claims most users prefer Windows 7 over Windows 8- even though most of these users haven’t even used Microsoft’s upcoming operating system. Today new drama is being spread, it seems that Windows 8 currently has just .33% of users running the new OS. At this same time in Windows 7’s pre-release life, it had 1.64% of users installing it.

Bottom Line: Windows 7 had five times more users by this point.

Before the media starts jumping to conclusions about this statement as well, let’s take a look back to the time when Windows 7 was launching for more clues about why it was so openly embraced.

Back when Windows 7 was launching….

Windows Vista had for all intents and purposes failed to make a splash in the marketplace. Vista (arguably) had its merits, but its negative aspects and slowness on many lower-end machines that packaged it led to a bad reputation. This lead to massive ‘downgrading’, where consumers would ditch Vista in favor of the older Windows XP.

By the time Windows 7 was arriving on the market, XP was feeling more than just a little dated. All the reports coming out on the net suggested Win7 was the coming messiah of the OS world and was a massive improvement over Vista. The time to finally ditch the archaic XP was near, and so it isn’t that surprising that many users jumped the gun to Windows 7 before its official release and left behind XP and Vista for good.

I was actually one of these users. I used Windows 7 for almost a year before its official launch, happily without much issue. I never owned or used Vista and loved the upgraded features and design on Windows 7 over from XP.

Did I ditch Windows 7 for Windows 8, though?

I’ve used several early versions of Windows 8 while writing for Windows 8 Update. About four months ago I stopped regularly writing here and at the same time managed to buy a new custom PC. What OS did I choose? Windows 7. For starters, I got a special promotional deal that included the CD key for almost nothing. Another reason for sticking with Windows 7 is that I liked Windows 8 but largely see little difference in performance and features.

Windows 8 IS better than Windows 7. Is it world’s better for non-touch devices? I’d say no. Sure, it has some major speed-ups for booting and shutting down. There are even some performance and bug improvements. But the upgrade isn’t that massive.

Windows XP to Windows 7, in contrast, was night and day. Most users are finding that Windows 8 is an improvement in the desktop/laptop world, but not enough to warrant an early jump to the new version.

Is that bad news for Microsoft? Nope.

Microsoft is a forward-thinking company.

I have a feeling that Microsoft secretly knew that Windows 8 wasn’t going to make a big splash in the PC world at first. The jump from Windows 7 to 8 isn’t that big on the PC. Windows 7 could easily have remained the main OS from MS for years on the PC.

So why even create Windows 8? It’s about thinking ahead, I’d wager.

New PC buyers will get Windows 8, and will get used to the new UI- a change that is likely going to stick and be present for a decade or more to come. I don’t foresee mass downgrading like with Vista, though I could be wrong. Other users will cling to Windows 7 as long as possible. That’s fine. The long-term plan was to unify the desktop and touch-mobile world in a big way in order to ensure Microsoft’s continued relevance in a world that is becoming more mobile and touch focused.

Windows 7 to Windows 8 is a HUGE night and day difference for tablet users. Windows 7 was less-than-stellar on tablet hardware. It just wasn’t truly meant for touch. Windows 7 tablet users will surely upgrade to Windows 8 happily.

Windows 8 will appeal to tablet users first and foremost. Windows 7 will continue to be the primary PC OS for a while longer. Eventually new technologies will roll out and Windows 7 will start to look pretty aged. Users will be forced to move on and will soon learn to adapt to the Modern/Metro UI.

In time, no one will even remember or care about this controversial change. That’s my take at least.

What do you think?

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