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Microsoft wants you to forget Windows 8

Gregg Keizer | July 29, 2014
Look to Vista for how Redmond will treat Windows 8 as it moves on to the next bright, shiny OS.

Time to go silent on Windows 8
There is evidence that Microsoft has begun deemphasizing Windows 8.

In his mission statement of July 10, CEO Satya Nadella mentioned no specific edition of Windows on the desktop, using simply "Windows" when he wasn't talking about "Windows Phone" or "Windows Server," or relegating Windows to secondary status in the newly-minted Microsoft he envisions. Windows 8 was also AWOL among the speeches Nadella and other Microsoft executives made the following week at the company's Worldwide Partners Conference, and was the subject of just three sessions out of more than 450 offered to attendees.

During this week's earnings call, Nadella referenced "Windows 8.1" just twice, both with the past tense. " In April, we released an update to Windows 8.1," he said of the refresh aimed to mollify enterprise users.

That's no surprise: Not only has Microsoft acknowledged that its share of all computing devices -- smartphones, tablets, personal computers -- now hovers at 14%, a far cry from its near monopoly as late as 2010, but the company certainly understands how poorly Windows 8 has performed even within the small segment composed of desktop and notebook computers.

The newer OS has outsold Vista, certainly, about 31% better according to calculations based on stated sales milestones that were then turned into per-month figures for Windows 8's first 16 months and Vista's first 19. But Windows 8 has lagged far behind its predecessor, Windows 7. The latter bested Windows 8 by 113% on a per-month basis calculated for its first 15 months.

Estimates from analytics firm Net Applications confirm that disparity between Windows 7 and Windows 8. When both have been judged at the same points in their respective post-release timelines, Windows 7 consistently accounted for more than twice the total active Windows user share of Windows 8.

Windows 8 has led in percentage of total Windows user share over Vista, but not by much: Last month, in fact, Windows 8's lead over Vista at the same point in each editions' career was the smallest ever, only two-tenths of one percent.

Putting an end to Windows 8
To ease Windows 8 into the past, Microsoft will likely make little, if any, noise about the edition's final update, slated for Aug. 12, reports say. That bump-up, probably to "Windows 8.1 Update 2," will be released with little fanfare and few noticeable changes, certainly not with the modified Start menu Microsoft previewed this spring at its Build developers conference. From all indications, that -- as well as other features to restore an emphasis on mouse and keyboard -- will take place with Threshold to let the company tout that edition as a clean break from its predecessor.


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