Windows 8’s Greatest Sin

on November 1, 2012

Anyone who is in business knows that once you have made a sale, you want the next sale to become as seamless and as automatic as possible. This is why newspapers and magazines push subscriptions so heavily and why so many services, like cable, phone, electricity, etc, rely so heavily upon monthly billing. They know that customers are far more likely to continue buying their goods or services from their existing provider if the purchase of those goods or services becomes routine and automatic. When the customer is given no chance to re-think or re-evaluate their decision, there is far less liklihood that they will change that decision.

Perhaps Windows 8’s greatest sin is that it is going to force Microsoft’s current customers to have to re-decide; to re-evaluate; to re-think their current purchasing decision. And if you’re the incumbant, that’s never a good thing.


Netflix started a website that rented videos and delivered those videos to its customers by mail. Netflix introduced the monthly subscription concept to their service in September 1999 and dropped the single-rental model in early 2000. Since that time, the company has built its reputation on the business model of flat-fee, unlimited rentals without due dates, late fees, shipping or handling fees, or per title rental fees. ~ via Wikipedia

Netflix continued to expand their services by offering streaming video rentals. At the base level, Netflix was charging its customers a flat $10 for both its mail and streaming videos. Then Netflix committed a cardinal sin.

In the fall of 2011, Netflix dramatically changed its pricing. Customers could no longer continue to pay $10 and get both the mail and streaming services. Customers had to choose between paying $8 for the mail service or $8 for the streaming service or $16 for both. This forced Netflix’ customers to re-evaluate their subscription plans. And when they chose, many of them chose to cancel their subscriptions altogether.

On October 24, 2011, Netflix announced it had lost 800,000 US subscribers in the third quarter of 2011 and that more subscriber losses were expected.

Netflix’ decision hardly killed the company but it unnecessarily cost them approximately a million subscribers. By forcing their customers to re-evaluate and re-think their previously automatic decisions, they gave their customers the worst option of all – the option to opt out of their Netflix subscription altogether.

Windows Upgrades Were the Surest of Sure Things

Microsoft’s Windows has had a virtual monopoly on personal computing since the mid-ninties. Windows software comes bundled with most new PCs, so the vast majority of operating system upgrades were invisible, automatic and virtually painless.

There were fewer sure bets than that those who owned a Windows PC were going to buy another Windows PC. The only question was “when”. For most, seeking an alternative to Windows simply didn’t even enter into their minds.

Windows 8 Will Cause Hesitation

A new study by Forrester Research — as reported by Social Barrel — shows that only 33% of companies who responded to their new survey have plans to move to Windows 8, Microsoft’s latest upgrade of its operating system.

Ten percent of the respondents have no intention at all to upgrade. The remaining 40% of the survey respondents stated that they have no plans of upgrading to Windows 8 yet.

“Social Barrel” says the percentage decline is “massive” in comparison with companies that intended to shift to Windows 7 when it launched in 2009. At that time, 67% of the companies that participated in a Forrester survey intended to shift to Windows 7, with 28% either not considering the update or are totally skipping it. ~ MacNews

Windows Users Have Other Options

It’s a whole new computing world out there. In 2006, there were only PCs and a smattering of smartphones and tablets. In 2012, we have:

— Mobile devices outselling PCs
— The Mac and the iPad seen as perfectly mainstream
— Bring Your Own Device and computer decision making moving from the home to the workplace rather than from the workplace to the home
— iPad’s viewed as all the computer that some people need

Last week – two days before Windows 8 was announced – Apple introduced a new iPad Mini. But, in a surprise move, Apple also updated their third generation iPad to a fourth generation, and refreshed almost their entire Mac line.

Do you think that was coincidental? Or do you think that Apple was offering Windows’ existing users a clear alternative to Windows 8?

If I’m Going To Have To Learn A New User Interface Anyway…

Windows 8 is remarkable, daring, and innovative. But it’s also a departure from nearly everything that Windows’ customers have known Windows to be. Windows 8 is a radical makeover. It forces people to relearn how to use their computers.

And if customers have to re-learn how to user their computers anyway, then they might as well consider learning a new operating system. Like a Mac or an iPad.

If I’m Going To Have To Buy New Computer Hardware Anyway…

Windows 8 is designed for a touchscreen.

And if customers have to buy new computer hardware anyway, then they might as well consider buying a new type of computer. Or tablet. Like a Mac or an iPad.

If I’m Going To Have To Decide Which Type Of Computer To Buy Anyway…

Microsoft thinks it is giving its customer’s choice, but what it is really doing is foisting decisions upon its user base.

— Windows RT or Windows 8 Tablet?
— Surface or one of a plethora of thrid party hardeware options?

In the abstract, choice is always good. But when you’re trying to get an existing customer to re-buy from you, extensive decision making is the last thing you want.

If the customer has to decide between this Surface and that, between Arm and x86, between phablets and laplets, then the customer might just decide to exit the Windows ecosystem altogether. Because once you start to think about your options, you start to think about ALL your options, not just the options made available by Microsoft.


When you have an existing customer, the worst sin you can commit is to force that customer re-evaluate their past buying decisions. I’m quite sure that Windows 8 is going to sell a LOT of computers. However, many of those computer purchases may end up being Macs or iPads.