Steve Ballmer

Paul Thurrott wrote a pretty impressive piece on his Supersite giving a very compelling theory about why Windows 8 has sold poorly over the previous holiday season.

In a beautifully written piece called “Explaining Windows 8 PC Sales Over the Holidays” he lays out this central theory – because of the Netbook and it’s low pricing, consumers have been conditioned to expect Windows hardware at the cheapest possible prices.

He alludes to data published by NPD about the past holiday shopping season which concluded:

Despite the hype, and hope, around the launch of Windows 8, the new operating system did little to boost holiday sales or improve the year-long Windows notebook sales decline. Windows notebook holiday unit sales dropped 11 percent, on par with Black Friday, and similar to the yearly trend, but revenue trends weakened since Black Friday to end the holiday period down 10.5 percent. ASPs rose only $2 to $420. Touchscreen notebooks were 4.5 percent of Windows 8 sales with ASPs around $700. Sales of Windows notebooks under $500 fell by 16 percent while notebooks priced above $500 increased 4 percent. Macbook sales dropped 6 percent while the ASPs rose almost $100 to $1419.

Paul says the following:

It’s not pat to say that the Windows PC market went for volume over quality, because it did: Many of those 20 million Windows 7 licenses each month—too many, I think—went to machines that are basically throwaway, plastic crap. Netbooks didn’t just rejuvenate the market just as Windows 7 appeared, they also destroyed it from within: Now consumers expect to pay next to nothing for a Windows PC. Most of them simply refuse to pay for more expensive Windows PCs.

He also says that:

In a privately distributed report, NPD concludes that “netbooks did an incalculable amount of damage to the PC market,” driving average selling prices down at an unsustainable rate.

So here’s what I got from Paul’s piece:

Because consumers were sold very cheap net books as Windows devices in the past, there is now a somewhat permanent association with low prices for Microsoft Windows products.

To that end, now consumers are conditioned to see PC’s as low cost devices and will not pay more for them.

Makes sense when you look at the data.

I asked around to get a little more feedback on the question of poor Windows 8 holiday sales.

About the Author

Onuora Amobi is the Founder and VP of Digital Marketing at Learn About The Web Inc. Onuora has more than a decade of information security, project management and management consulting experience. He has specialized in the management and deployment of large scale ERP client/server systems.

In addition to being a former Microsoft MVP and the founder and editor of, he is the CEO of a Pasadena based online marketing education startup - Learn About The Web Inc. ( and The Redmond Cloud (

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  • Marc Williams

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Well said..

    • Onuora Amobi


  • Sam Merriman

    Best Buy was a HUGE part of this shit. It’s almost like they sabotaged the rollout of Windows 8.

    • Onuora Amobi

      LOL, I hear that too.

  • george_szubinski

    What an unbelievable load of claptrap.. There is serious business opportunity in creating such crap theories based around dodgy biased stats … And joining the throng of bloggers who hate MS and have nothing better to do then write craplog…

    Opinions like these need to be stuffed into a deep dark archive….

    Compete boll!!!s

    • Onuora Amobi

      You have a problem with NPD? I didn’t make those numbers up.

      Thanks for the comment. 😉

      • george_szubinski

        Yes I do … I distrust stats intensely … Maybe other factors need to be considered and you need to examine how many tonnes of apples were purchased in comparison with wheat shortages … Oh and whether we will have another war…

        Nope… I have given MS a lot of grief over the very many years I have been buying their products and I prefer to rely on my instinct rather than statistics and fanciful doom forecasters… The end of the world didn’t happen and MS are looking good for both hardware and software…. It’s such a pity others don’t have my visionary skills….

  • John DrDog Bassett

    Windows 8 cost to much, and the money is not there, I have had windows 7 for only 13 mouths then you bring out a new operating system, the money is just not there for most of us.

    • Onuora Amobi

      That’s what a lot of people say…

    • Jase Wolf

      13 mouths? Lol

    • KerouakLives

      And for quite a few people, $65 is quite a bit of money for the hard disk ($45 for the download version). I had Win7 for almost three years, and all I can say is the experience was worth the price of admission.

  • Patrick Santry

    You’re missing one big variable to the formula and that is enterprise rollouts. Microsoft owns the enterprise, more Windows machines are by far in the enterprise than Macs. Once the enterprise accepts the new OS, folks will be used to it at work, and then port their home computing environments over to it. Unfortunately for Microsoft, most IT managers I know are not going to be rolling out Windows 8 anytime soon, which wasn’t the case with Windows 7. They see Windows 8 as being too much of a change in the user experience and don’t want their help desks to be flooded with calls. Regardless of Windows Pro coming out, if Microsoft doesn’t do something to accomadate the fear of IT managers about having to have a huge support mess, then it won’t do well and they need the enterprise for Pro to take off.

    • Onuora Amobi

      Great point. I tend to agree…

    • Rex King

      Yeah, I agree and I disagree. I agree that no enterprise is going to roll out Windows 8 right away. I disagree that any enterprise jumped on Windows 7 out of the gate. This is not the way that enterprises operate. Here is an unspoken enterprise tactic. Let an OS become a main home user OS first before incorperating it into the enterprise environment. This means that users do not need to be trained to use it. This is the reason you dont find Linux in the enterprise.

      • Patrick Santry

        Linux use is extremely small, you need to look at the data. More people use PCs at work than at home. In the early days this was more common as folks did not spend the cash to purchase home computers, but were forced to use them on the job.

        • Rex King

          That is exactly my point. Linux usage is just too low to consider for use in the enterprise. Their agreements with MS mean that it is cheaper to continue using Windows than to train users to use a “free” OS. This doesnt mean they will jump all over the newest version of Windows no matter how well it is received by the media.

  • Arnold

    Please look at the most recent report from Ad- Duplex

    Windows 8 and phone 8 are rising.

    • Onuora Amobi

      Do you have a link for that?

      • Arnold

        Yes but your site does not allowed links. Always says it got to go through moderation and then I never see my posts go up.

        • Onuora Amobi

          Well send it and I’ll approve it this time.

  • IT_Consumer

    Windows 8 has an identity crisis. Microsoft made it to be something that would be great as a touchscreen tablet, in my totally non-scienfic poll at Best Buy, less than 5% of the offerings were touchscreen enabled. And it isn’t for business, because business doesn’t need Metro and all the constant social media updates pushed to associates desktops– particularly since Win 7 is a solid product that many just upgraded to. The genius that headed this up was right to step down. And what of RT? Really terrible? Win 8 without the ability to run most Win 7 apps. How about undercutting the iPAD? Nope, pricing is pretty comparable and very few decent apps. But hey, I’m wrong because the author of the article blames it on “netbooks”. Seriously????

    • Onuora Amobi


      Thanks for the feedback.

    • Kristján Guðnason

      I have to disagree with you when you talk about Windows 8 needing touchscreen to work. I´ve seen many laptops with multitouch trackpads and for me that integration can work very well with Win8. Touchscreen is not a must. Even so this constant nagging about touchscreens and tablets is getting old really quick. There are only handfull of shortcuts that need to be learned to function 100% in Win8 environment. Tiles can be rearranged or removed. Get over it and RTFM! (in all good manners)

    • Ray C

      I agree to an extent. I do think Windows 8 was geared more toward the tablet/touch market and trying to have commonality with Windows phone. That being said they’re ahead of the curve because tough is the way of the future. Touchscreen laptops and monitors are only going to get more popular. After using phones and iPads, I have to sometime catch myself and stop trying to touch the screen when I use a PC or laptop. Where they made the mistake was that Windows 8 APPEARS to have a learning curve. I didn’t understand RT at first. But now I get it. iPads and Chrome tablets really can’t do much more than RT. I never expected RT. I just expected them to just come out with one Windows 8, but they can’t ignore those people who just want a tablet to do the same simple things they would do on a phone.

  • WRB

    I got a Windows 8 upgrade license with a new windows 7 (cheap lenovo) laptop I purchased in October. I was ready to install it just for fun but when I started reading about all the conflicts with existing software and hardware I held off. I still have some software that won’t run on windows 7 even after working with it for the last year or so. I am a small business owner and I just can’t afford to have time wasted fiddling with a new operating system.

    • Onuora Amobi

      That’s a concern for businesses – Taking the time to figure this all out.

    • WIllyThePooh

      For business, it’s always a good idea to try it with a test machine before moving your bread and butter one to a new system. Upgrade your home PC with the cheap license you get and see if it could run the software your business is running. Do parallel run is another option.

  • Victor Tashev

    Well, I bought a WP8 for my wife living in Bulgaria and here we usually don’t spend much on such stuff..besides Windows 8 is technology product not an iZombie sh* some guys are comparing apples to computers and wonder why the calculation didn’t come out 😉

    • Onuora Amobi

      LOL funny- iZombie.

  • Alfredo

    We are in the middle of a major change: migrating from notebooks and netbooks to tablets. Here in SouthAmerica every person who can afford, go and buy his/her tablet. I work in the education sector. Months ago I bought a Samsung tablet with Android to work in my universities classes, connected to databases and e-learning app. such as Moodle. At that moment I realized that Android is for games and social media. But when you really need serious tools to produce text, images, videos, and upload it to Internet, Windows is the solution. Now I am working with a Samsung tablet… and Windows 8. I think that the marriage of tablets and Windows 8 still has a lot of room to improve. And Microsoft should do it faster! I sadly remember my old HP Ipaq phone with Windows 6. It was marvelous. Before the Iphones, before the word “smartphone”, before all the avalanche of Samsung, HTC, etc… What happened to HP and Microsoft? How do they lost that initial advantage?

    • Onuora Amobi

      Thanks Alfredo!


  • Adam

    Hi Onoura-

    You cover this well in your article. I think it may be silly to say just”netbooks” caused

    a poor performance. Windows does seem to have raised the price of a new PC w/ Win8

    installed. So a consumer may wonder why that is. Windows was not positioned as a

    new “Desktop PC, Hooray!” or “you gotta see what this new Windows can do on a PC!”

    So what are they paying extra for? It may not be a fair question as it relates to Windows

    8, since hardware cost may have gone up or distribution costs, etc.. Stuff simply costs a bit more nowadays. Not Windows 8 fault.

    As this relates to Laptops/notebooks, yeah netbooks may have spoiled Consumer price

    expectations some, but I think most realize that this small thing does not = this bigger thing.

    Media coverage was not enthusiasticly in favor of Windows 8, and MSFT was poor in relating Windows 8 for anyone who is not an early adopter. For those who did venture into a bit of research, the question quickly becomes ” do I need/want to invest in touch?” for my PC.

    If not, then it seems windows 7 is still a good bet and “I have that now”.

    There are some nice benefits to windows 8 in my opinion, but none of this is really talked

    about anywhere but your site or a few others if one knows where to look. So there really is a lack of education for the consumer about Windows 8. This is true even for the hardware

    MSFT made FOR Windows 8- the Tablets. MSFT simply came out too soon with this OS.

    It should have been made as it was, but released only to Tablets at first, and those Tablets needed to be READY ! Underscore that a hundred times. Get a Good vibe going on those

    and WALA! guess what? We have a new AIO PC that makes Windows 8 rock! look no wires!

    Look you can touch it and make it go! Add wireless devices, again no Wires! Get all kinds of Apps! Wait unto you see the New media center work with touch and your TV! ETC…. and oh by the way-

    for those who want the windows 8 experience on your Current machines, you can do that Too! Completely changes the whole perception of what you are getting into.

    Simply stated- the message and delivery were all wrong for Windows 8.

    • Onuora Amobi

      Thanks for the feedback Adam.


  • Rodney Longoria

    I’ve had my Toshiba laptop for just over 3 years now, and under normal circumstances I would’ve bought a new one (with Win8/Touch screen) during the holidays. However, I’m currently job searching and have no income due to the economic crisis. I cannot afford to buy anything that doesn’t get me to a job interview or keeps me fed.

    I have a lot of friends pretty much in the same situation and how good a product is or not, perhaps has no bearing on the sales data. It could be the economy … hello!

    • Onuora Amobi

      Fantastic point as well.

      The problem is, those excuses never seem to be valid for Apple products. If Apple are making sales numbers in the SAME economy….

      • Rodney Longoria

        Different class of buyers, Onuora (when talking about PC’s). But then again, even the article here says that Macbook sales dropped 6 percent.

        • Onuora Amobi


          Good observations.

          I just find it hard to swallow because there are tons of customers in Best Buy all the time, they just seem to spend time at the Apple and Android sections.

          All anecdotal but interesting nonetheless…

          • Rodney Longoria

            In the Apple and Android “PC” sections? Ah, I see! 😉

        • Robert Trance

          And 6 % is almost Apple’s entire public, LOL

      • WillyThePooh

        Actually, that’s why Apple brings out iPad mini to get to people with less money in their pockets. Also, you can get iPhone for $0 if you sign a contract. But for win8, I don’t see any deal during the holiday season. Not even from OEM. Probably they are busy trying to push all win7 machine out of their warehouses.

  • Larryalobo

    1) Windows Surface was not available in too many places before the holiday – hard to check out Windows 8 on a proper machine – there were not enough other computers/ tablets that worked well to show off Windows 8 and its abilties
    2) Windos 8 was a more radical departure and people felt lost or intimidated by learning new ways to compute, even if they were eventually better
    3) Too many bloggers and soothsayers didn’t think much of the change to Windows and said so loudly and often – only recently have many of them started to sing some praises after they got over their intitial negativity and gotten more used to how Windows 8 works
    4) Windows RT is not completely done and people juged the whole Windows 8 move by those limitations – maybe with Windows Blue or whatever comes, many thing will be worked out and Windos 8 Pro on a proper machine works quite well
    5) Need more apps and significant ones – need killer apps that are compelling. How Windows 8 lets you work well and differently should be enough but its an app world and people look for apps, even though they can do a lot of it without apps with the proper operating system.
    6) It has not been that long that Windos 8 was really rolled out and its still being rolled out – Its not just an improvement to Windows (like Vista was trying to be and Windows 7 was and became) but a new way of thinking of computing on all devices. It takes a while for people to adjust. Android and Apple have the focus for a while and people want things to work like that. We’ll see how well Microsoft sells Windows 8 benefits and style

    • WillyThePooh

      If Win8 looks exactly like Win7, it won’t sell well too as Win7 is too solid build. People won’t upgrade to something that looks exactly the same as they are using.

  • Jake West

    Those who can’t either teach or write. If your so smart why are you still writting blogs for a living, get out and produce something, even if you fail at least you tried at something. Yes, Microsoft has issues, but they are only in business, because they have a pulse on the market, in some segments 80+%, everyone aims at being on top, when they can’t they snivle or hire blog writers who can’t either, smuck…

  • wofie

    if microsoft wants a good windows make it work with all programs.

  • wofie

    wat i am talkinh about peeople cant keep thoring out softwhere and hardware just because of a new windows the averyge purson can not aford.

  • huizhe

    I bought a netbook with Windows 8. It’s OK for going to the Internet to check my email, read the news, and answer questions for my friends when we’re drinking coffee & shooting the breeze, but I can’t do any serious work on it because I can’t use MS Office 2003, and because almost everything takes twice as long (twice as many mouse clicks) on Win8 than on Win7. Give me Win7 any day. I’m sticking with that.

    • WillyThePooh

      That’s because you are using netbook, an underpowered pc. Win8 is as fast if not faster than win7. Try to run win7(not starter edition) on netbook and you will know what I mean. I put all my programs in live tile and it just need one click to start it. Could you use half a click to start a program in win7? I create a shutdown shortcut in desktop so that I could just one click shutdown the computer.

    • Rex King

      I agree with Willy, that is about all a netbook can do, expecting more is not the fault of Windows 8.

      I also really have to disagree with your twice as many mouse clicks. While this may seem to be the case at first, it really is because you are not making use of its efficiencies. Once you find all the shortcuts, it is really just as fast to navigate as Windows 7 if not faster.

      • Ray C

        Although I do agree with you. I think Microsoft could have made it easier to use Windows 8 or made the transition easier. I feel like whenever I use any tablet, there seems to be more steps involved in doing anything. Windows 8 does the original start menu in a different way, but it wouldn’t have seemed to different to some with an easier layout. Maybe the default Tile layout should have had less tiles like on a Windows Phone. Just enough tiles to cover whatever would usually be on the desktop and taskbar and maybe an ” all applications ” tile or one that brought up all your program just like the start menu would. They could have had different tile sets or groups. And I thought the same thing about more clicks originally until I read up on some Windows 8 tips. What Microsoft failed to realize is the average consumer wants that “hop right on and use it” feel. That’s why even though I work in IT, I purposely read no documentation or tips in Windows 8 before using it.
        If i didn’t have a case with a keyboard, I would almost never use an iPad I have. And I was ready to almost throw my test laptop out the window until I remembered about ALT+Tab. Why there isn’t a back button or virtual back button in Windows 8 or on every Win 8 tablet is beyond me.

  • Rex King

    In order to ensure a brand new product or one that has changed as much as this did to be an outstanding hit, it has to have great postitive publicity from all quarters. MS has a long ways to go before they will get this, if ever. Pretty hard when bashing them is still one of the cool things to do, even if it has diminished some over the last few years. Instead they got a lot of negative publicity even if much of it is unwarranted, they also didnt do themselves any favors.

    However, I think it would be oversimplistic to attribute the lackluster sales to a single reason. And I agree with most of the ones you list, but I think there are a few others as well. The answers are in the sales figures, but with the multiple contributing factors not as clear. Definitely the poor economy and the changed technological landscape have had big influences as well. This can be seen in the rise in sales of tablets and the decrease in sales of Apple computers. The fact that Apple computers didnt take as big of hit as Windows computers is an important factoid to prove that this is not caused by a single factor only and definitely not just a price factor.
    Windows RT devices being a new product entirely has no background to compare to decisively point to their problems. Therefore, you can only guess and state all reasons that could have been their undoing. Personally, I have come to see them as a dead end completely if they can not undercut the price of a Windows 8 tablet significantly. Intel is showing that ARM will not have a significant battery advantage very long at all, so without the backward compatibility, they have to compete solely on price.

    While the reasons are important and need to be taken into consideration moving forward, the unfortunate thing for some of the OEMs is that this is not a short term battle for MS as it may be for them. MS has produced a great product. I understand those who think that this isnt a significant improvement over Windows 7. But after using it for a while and putting it on a PC I built from scratch as well as updating an old laptop, I have come to use it enough to realize that it is indeed much better under the hood than Windows 7. This will take people time to realize. I had the same issue with Windows server in the past. I instantly saw a huge improvement in Windows 2003 over Windows 2000 Server, but the change from Windows 2003 to Windows 2008 seemed at first only cosmetic, after working with it, the improvements become obvious. I believe that after people become used the changes in Windows 8 the under the hood improvements will start to make more sense. Now MS needs to work to help improve adoption. Some of the things you talked about in advertising is important. But they really need to make a big improvement in their tutorial to help users make the most of a system they will be meeting for the first time. While this will work itself out in the long run, they definitely could speed up the process. Other things like the change backlash, they will just have to wait out. In the meantime, these complaints will have an impact on uptake speed which really cant, and shouldnt be avoided.

  • Raynor Schiene

    I think the other main reason could be the piracy.!!! I have seen here in my college although windows 8 is a huge hit believe me you find any other guy here will have windows 8 installed but when i ask from where did u get or how , they simply say torrents, pirated versions!!! around 100-200 guys must have win8 here but the thing is only 10-20 have original. now compare with whole world. This piracy has to stop!!

  • techno geek

    win8 wont sell big because of the Metro GUI & no choiuce for the traditional start menu with Microsoft planting their high heels deep (like the republicans) – gee thats a common sense observation. why is Apple experiencing strong sales? answer – they are open minded & they listen to their customers

  • Robert Trance

    Our entire family upgraded to Windows 8 Pro, on existing PCs. Everyone loves it every day more!