Is Windows 8 already in trouble?
New data from Net Applications paints a stark picture of early Windows 8 interest. The Web analytics firm says that Microsoft's new OS -- now entering its third month of its Consumer Preview -- powered a mere 0.11 percent of computers that went online last week.
It's a rate of adoption that has remained essentially unchanged since March. Not a good sign. By comparison, at this stage of the Windows 7 Preview, 0.26 percent of machines on the Web were running Vista's successor, according to this PCWorld report.
Windows 7 currently accounts for 36 percent of computers on the Web, according to Net Application's latest market share figures. Only Windows XP surpasses it, clinging to 43 percent.
One of Windows 8's top selling points is its touch-enabled Metro interface, Microsoft's stab at an exploding tablet market largely defined by Apple's iPad. It's an opportunity for the software maker, but at this stage, it's also a limiting factor.
Aside from a few convertible tablet PCs and all-in-ones from the likes of HP and Dell, touch-enabled x86 hardware remains relatively rare, negating the Metro UI's main draw. It works with clicks and mouse gestures, but that's a far cry from the tablet-like touch experiences it was designed to deliver.
And at the moment, consumers are largely shut out of the buzzed about, tablet-friendly version of Windows 8 called Windows RT. This variant for ARM-based hardware will ship pre-integrated, like how the iPad's underlying iOS operating system can only be acquired with the purchase of an Apple tablet.
Windows 8 also offers a traditional desktop view. Despite its polish and new features, it's hardly the quantum leap that Windows 7 was from Vista, the maligned successor to Windows XP.
So positive was Windows 7's reception that it became Microsoft's fastest-selling operating system in the months following its release. And the OS continues to perform well for the company.
Windows 7 and has established a strong foothold in the notoriously cautious corporate desktop market. Windows 7 business PC sales rose 8 percent in the last quarter, compared to the prior year. According to the Microsoft, roughly 40 percent of enterprise desktops run Windows 7 and it expects that number to grow over the next two years as Windows XP machines get phased out.
Ultimately, such tepid Windows 8 early adoption rates can be explained by a lack of an urgency to upgrade from Windows 7. Or perhaps they're waiting for the forthcoming Windows 8 Release Preview and the hardware to fully exploit it.