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BLOG: Microsoft's summer from hell continues: Windows 8 growth stalls

Preston Gralla | Aug. 6, 2013
Things are looking bad for Microsoft as new research shows that the Windows 8 market share has essentially stalled. What else could go wrong?

Can the string of summer bad news for Microsoft get any worse? Yes it can. New research shows that Windows 8 market share has essentially stalled. What can possibly go wrong next?

The most recent report from Net Applications shows that in July, Windows 8 was running on 5.9% of all Windows machines, up only three tenths of a percent compared to June, reports Computerworld. That's only about a third of June's growth, and half of the six-tenths of a point monthly growth rate from November, 2012 through July, 2013. It's also the lowest growth rate in that time period. In essence, growth stalled.

That's very bad news for what is, after all, a relatively new operating system, which should be growing quickly. Windows 8 was broadly released less than 10 months ago, at the end of October. Part of the problem is that PC shipments have been falling — an estimated 11%, according to IDC. But one of the reasons shipments have been falling is that people don't appear to want Windows 8.

The bad news about Windows 8 is part of what has been a steady drumbeat of bad news for Microsoft this summer. The company's most recent earnings report was lackluster, and Microsoft announced that it was going to write off $900 million because of unsold Surface RT inventory. To try and help get people to buy them, Microsoft slashed prices on it by $150. And now Microsoft has cut $100 off the price of the Windows 8 Surface tablet, a sign that tablet isn't selling well, either.

Making matters worse, Asus Chairman Jonney Shih said of the company's foray into RT tablets that "The result is not very promising." He strongly intimated that Shih will abandon RT.

Can things get worse? Yes, they can, and have. Just last week, Microsoft lost a trademark infringement case in the U.K., and will have to rename its SkyDrive service. Microsoft has spent many millions of dollars branding SkyDrive, and now will have to spend many millions more rebranding it with whatever new name it comes up with. No word yet on what it will be. But you can bet on one thing: Microsoft won't be calling it Metro.

There's been plenty of other bad news as well, but no need to mention it all and pile on. Still, people at Microsoft must be feeling like one-time Mets manager Casey Stengel did during 1962, when the Mets lost a record 120 games — a team that has been frequently called the worst team of all time. His famous lament during the season feels as if it applies to Microsoft today. "Can't anyone here play this game?"

Still, the Mets improbably went on to win the World Series in 1969, and earned the nickname the "Miracle Mets." Could we see the equivalent in tech: "Miracle Microsoft?" The Mets back then were helped by two Hall of Famers, pitchers considered among the best in the history of baseball, Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver. If Microsoft is going to replicate the Mets' success, it's going to have to find equivalent tech leaders. Until then, the company just has to hope that its fortunes improve when summer turns into fall.


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