The Late Microsoft Windows 8

on March 7, 2013

10x091098b5efaIn 2008, Microsoft’s Windows OS ran on 95% of all computing devices. By the end of 2012, Forrester estimated that Microsoft’s market share had declined to 30%.

In 2012 there were more Android devices sold than Windows devices. By the end of 2013, it is probable that there will be more iOS devices sold than Windows devices too. If so, by the end of this year, Windows will be only third in terms of OS sales.

Microsoft’s Profits

By the fiscal year ending June 2009, Microsoft had made $14.5 billion in profit. By 2012, that number had grown to $21.76 billion.

That sounds pretty good until it’s compared to Apple. Apple’s net income for the fiscal year ending September 2009 was 8.2 billion. By the end of fiscal 2012, its income had risen to $41 billion. Not only had Apple made up the difference between the two companies, in 2012 it lapped Microsoft, making almost exactly twice as much in profits as Microsoft had. The iPhone, alone, makes more profit than all of Microsoft and by the end of 2013 it is expected that the iPad, alone, will make more revenue than all of Microsoft too.

Microsoft’s PC-centric Problem


The purple portion of the graphic, above, represents income from Microsoft Office. The green portion represents income from Microsoft Windows. Microsoft’s problem is that both of those cash cows are located, almost exclusively, on desktop and notebook PCs and PCs are in decline both in actual and in relative terms.

In 2012, PC shipments fell 3.7%. And IDC just slashed its 2013 PC shipment forecast from growth of 2.8% to a decline of 1.3%.

Windows 8 was supposed to reverse the downward trend in PC sales but, if anything, it has made things worse.

The new operating system launched on Oct. 26, along with heavy advertising by Microsoft and its PC hardware partners, including Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Lenovo. But the response to Windows 8 has been “underwhelming” and worldwide PC shipments tumbled 8.3% in Q4, the most substantial decline recorded for a holiday quarter, IDC said.

The Plan

The plan was to create a single user interface for all Windows phones, tablets and PCs. By migrating Windows’ substantial user base in desktops and notebooks to Windows 8, it was hoped that users would become familiar with the unified user interface and then naturally migrate down from Windows desktops and notebooks to Windows tablets and phones.

The Reality

The reality has been quite different.

First, Windows phone sales have been a disaster. Despite the introduction of Windows 8 phone and the Nokia Lumia, Windows phones actually LOST market share in the recent holiday quarter.

Second, support for Windows RT is rapidly drying up. Acer delayed their RT offering, HP an Toshiba opted out altogether, Samsung refused to produce an RT product for the U.S. and now Samsung is withdrawing its RT product from the European markets.

Third, despite a massive advertising campaign, there is absolutely no indication that Windows 8 tablets are capturing the imagination of consumers. In fact, all of the evidence points to the exact opposite conclusion.


Source: The Yankee Group

The Yankee Group recently surveyed consumers, asking them which brand of tablet they intended to buy. The iPad dominated the discussion but if you examine the chart carefully, you’ll see that Microsoft and its hardware partners barely registered at all.


Source: Chitika

Further, in terms of Tablet Usage Share, Microsoft tablets are barely a blip on the radar. The Microsoft Surface, for example, shows up at Zero Point Four percent, behind even the discredited Blackberry Playbook.

Fourth, it appears that the growth in Windows 8 apps is rapidly declining.

When windows 8 was first released, there were 500 apps being added to the Windows 8 market each and every day. By December 27, that number had dropped to 415. By January 28, the number had dropped much further to 156.

Fifth, in a sign of how poor sales have been, Microsoft has started to discount Windows 8 licenses in order to spur the growth in Windows 8 touchscreen notebooks and tablets.


Microsoft is not in any danger. But their personal computing empire is.

Microsoft is making more and more of their money from their server and tools division, which is a good thing. But their income from Windows and Office is still huge and it seems that both are tied to the declining PC sector. And as Microsoft loses its monopoly position, its dominance over even the declining PC sector is waning too.

Microsoft will continue to make money on the sales of Windows 8 licenses but the goal of Windows 8 was to transfer Microsoft’s user base from desktops and notebooks to tablets and phones. That bid has, so far, failed.

Is it too early to say that Windows 8 has failed? Or is it already too late for the late Microsoft Windows 8?