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back to article PC makers REALLY need Windows 8.1 to walk on water - but guess what?

An updated Windows 8 from Microsoft will NOT be the "miracle cure" for traditional PC makers in need of a sales and profits injection. And that's according to IT biz analysts Context. This is the second technology distribution channel watcher in a week to warn that Redmond's touch-friendly operating system tweak, namely version …

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It's not that hard to see the problem

Of course sales are down. Everyone who could possibly want a PC or laptop has one now. That state was reached years ago, so the industry kept running on upgrades. Now even upgrades are drying up as computers just aren't becoming obsolete as quickly as they used to. All that's left is population growth, replacements for failed devices and a slow trickle from those who finally decide their old P4 is past it. The boom years are gone.

Tablets will go the same way, eventually. But not for a while yet.

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Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

Yes the OS is irrelevant.

It's the fact that since 2007 or thereabouts folks just don't need to upgrade like they did.

If a customer comes to me with a old laptop that's got a dual core, 2GB of ram and a 160GB HDD and its in good condition I don't bother to tell them to buy a new one I just service it and tweak it and away they go. Probably good to go for another 2-3 years of Facebook use.

I wouldn't have said that to a customer in 2007 who came to me with a 2000 spec laptop.

I remember a time when I was upgrading my CPU every 4-6 months! Now its every 4-6 years. I can't be the only one doing this. This will have a knock on effect.

In fact a lot of the newer gear I'm buying these days is 'less powerful' than the stuff I bought a few years ago. Why? It uses less power but still get the job done.

It's the hardware that's the problem not the software. However, laptop manufacturers could pull their finger out to make the sub £500 laptop market a bit more interesting.

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Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

Yea people have all the PCs and laptops they need generally. They also tend to buy them as and when they need them. Not just wait till Xmas. If you laptop packs up you need a new one pretty quick, not wait for 4 months.

At Christmas last year most folks I knew were looking to buy tablets and smartphones to supplement the laptops and PCs they already had.

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Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

Classic example here:

Will buy at least on new Win8 tablet pc in late 2013/early 2014 when the Baytrail platform is out and prices have stabilized. Until then the old desktop and tablet pc will do. Why buy a C-Trail when the far more powerful/useful follow up is announced

Will buy a new unit for my parents in the same time frame. Again, wait for Haswell to hit the streets and then buy a non-Haswell notebook that drops in price on the "way out". Alternate is buy a Haswell tablet pc with dock for me and dad gets the core-i "sandy" tower I use now.

And since, despite repeated lies from certain sources, Win8 does not need touch or stylus the (actually non existing) lack of "touch devices" is no problem either.

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Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

Just think how bad the sales numbers would be without the replacement PC sales arising from organisations finally beginning to move from WinXP... This long-deferred investment (akin to the pre Y2K splurge) must be propping up sales, but I bet most organisations are looking to install Win7 and avoid Win8/8.1

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Devil

since 2007

Or even about 2002.

Huge massive difference between my 2000 laptop and the 2002 model. I'm still using the 2002 Model. 1600 x 1200 screen, 1.8GHz CPU. Internal Wifi, HDD, RAM upgraded though.

The 2000 Laptop (450 MHz PIII mobile and 1400 x 1050 screen) made the earlier one from 1998 look like junk.

I have a mix of Office XP and Office 2003 applications. And Libre Office. My replacement for XP will not be an MS OS, unless there is a miracle.

Before 2002 to 2006 you replaced perfectly working machines regularly and updated OS. (WFWG 3.11 far better Win 3.0, XP "better" than NT4.0, Win98SE better than any of the 3 Win95).

What compelling reason is there for Vista, Win7 or Win8 if you have a working computer with XP, OS X or Linux?

Newer MS OSes and post 2003 MS Office? See Icon

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Re: since 2007

Major problem today - can't get anything near as good as the screen you have in that "old" LT.

Instead of improving the parts you actually use (screen, keyboard, RAM) manufacturers have been bled dry by Wintel duopoly.

The sooner they're both gone, the better for manufacturers and customers alike. Sadly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

I can supply an anecdote about the desirability or otherwise Win8 phones. My lad is - shall we say; not exactly a thinking person - and has just busted his Win 8 phone. He now has a replacement, which is Android, ane even he is wondering why on Earth he went for the Win 8 experience in the first place.

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Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

"It's the fact that since 2007 or thereabouts folks just don't need to upgrade like they did."

Unless you are doing something that is processor intensive, you don't really need to.

The average user surfs the net and writes the odd letter. So, as long as it can display funny cat videos, it should be fine.

It is also the downfall of PCs. Phones and tablets do the surfing now and not many write anything longer than a tweet, so they don't even need a keyboard.

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Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

Well there is always the one in a million that actually likes/bothers to edit his home movies or the odd gamer. :-)

But yes for 90%+ of the worlds population the need to up the CPU ended some time ago.

Now replacing that HDD with a SSD that's another matter...

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Re: since 2007

Well I struggle to agree at 2002. I see many single core laptops from around 2005 with 80GB 4200rpm HDDs and 512MB of ram in them and they are unusable compared to a simple C2D machine from just a few years later. Not worth upgrading either. Folks think those machines 'work just fine' but then sit them next to a modern dual core machine and you just see how much time is wasting.

I always mandate that a dual core machine should be given a second chance but a single core goes to the skip/recylce ASAP.

I agree to an extent of Office 2003 My copy of 2003? From my cold dead hands....

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Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

... the replacement PC sales arising from organisations finally beginning to move from WinXP...

Don't know about your organization, but the PC sales from my organization moving from XP were exactly 0 -- we upgraded OS, not hardware. Apart from a few poor planners, I'd expect similar from most businesses -- if they've been following a 5 year refresh, all of their hardware would be fine for running Win7, so why waste money on new boxes?

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Linux

Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

So true I can get by on just a S754 AMD Ahtlon64 if I had to I even managed to play Black Mesa on that Rig to. I managed to come by a used C2D and have since used that. For the boost in Video Editing (i.e. being Dual Core) other then that. I fail to see the need to change One 2Ghz CPU for yet another. Just cause AMD and, or intel are feeling a pinch.

In some cases its the same thing with XP. Which begs the next question what happens then?

Me I made my decision to use Mint Linux, and have had no grounds to regret it...

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Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

Listen to this Man he speaks truth!

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Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

I bet most organisations are looking to install Win7

They will have lots of already-running software. None of which is touch-enabled, so a touch-sensitive device is useless. And the do not want to have to train users - they want a UI that is consistent with XP.

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Re: Yes the OS is irrelevant.

Not completely irrelevant. Yes, the hardware is the prime motivator and it has improved in quality and the need for speed increases has diminished greatly.

BUT, if you do want/need a hardware upgrade, does the OS entice you or repel you? I've looked at a couple of sales now and when I saw the Win 8 sticker, backed away as quickly as I could. I want an OS that for me, works at least as well as Win 7 did. Win 8 isn't that OS.

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Re: Not just wait till Xmas.

That actually depends a bit on the economy. If people in the consumer segment feel flush with cash, yeah they will operate that way. But if they don't, they'll limp by on the old system until it is Christmas time and give it as a gift to their SO or kids. Also, the manufacturers tend to put things on sale which also ought to drive up consumption at least relative to the rest of the year. That didn't happen.

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Mushroom

Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

No, the OS is NOT irrelevant.

It's true that the PC market is a replacement market, and that people are now only buying new PCs because their last PC has broken down.

But this particular PC user does NOT want Windows 8. To me, its value is NEGATIVE, in other words I will pay more in order NOT to have to struggle with its numerous deficiencies. If I didn't have access to corporate downgrade rights (ie Windows 7) I would buy something from Apple. Or something running Android. Or install Linux onto a PC that came with Windows 8, if that remains possible and if I cannot find any alternative.

Microsoft is blind to this, and every day that goes by without Windows 7 or Windows 9-like-7 returning to Joe Public's marketplace is another day that Apple (in particular) eats further into Microsoft's home-user market. Folks DON'T NEED a new PC immediately, and they DON'T WANT one running Windows 8. Two different facts.

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Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

Don't know about your organization, but the PC sales from my organization moving from XP were exactly 0 -- we upgraded OS, not hardware. Apart from a few poor planners, I'd expect similar from most businesses -- if they've been following a 5 year refresh, all of their hardware would be fine for running Win7, so why waste money on new boxes?

The company I work for just gave us all new boxes, running win7. But our old boxes were all P4 types from about 2003, 10 years ago (with a bit more RAM thrown in along the way). But the principal still stands, I doubt we'll get another upgrade until 2023!

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Meh

Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

I would agree with you if my customers who are largely domestic and small business were telling me they didn't want Windows 8. Customers really don't mind. That's my fact.

So far the only ones that have said they don't want 8 at this time are the ones running Sage. That's because Sage doesn't currently officially support it. That's fine because Sage can be a pig to get working on a supported platform at times.

So far my experience of real world customers are not anti 8. They really don't care. The big question is "will it be faster then my old machine?" Hmmm its a 1.7Ghz single core with a 40GB HDD. Yes I think so.

Downvotes because I dared cross the "You are not allowed to say you had a positive experience with Windows 8" picket line.

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Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

Most organisations have done the switch in 2012. And at that time any smart IT went with Win7 since two month is not enough to test all applications on a new OS. Most XP still out there are "borrowed the OS on eMule" or "lab-equipment, no internet anyway" these days with the "dads christmas present 2013" deferred replacements thrown in. Any IT that considered a switch to Win8 earlier than April should be taken out and shot. takes a 4-6 month test period on the average.

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Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

Quite a few companies lease the boxes so they got "fresh" hardware in 2011/2012 and Win7 with it. Other hardware was getting long in the tooth or costly to upgrade anyway since companies skipped a cycle that is often three years (many skipped Vista)

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Re: since 2007

"I see many single core laptops from around 2005 with 80GB 4200rpm HDDs and 512MB of ram in them and they are unusable compared to a simple C2D machine from just a few years later."

Just rescued one of those for a charity I do some work for. It does have 1GB of memory, though.

It died trying to do Windows Vista updates. Lost the user profile (of the only user) so it was impossible to log in. The charity wanted me to buy a new one.

Since the laptop is only used as a resource for guest speakers, on the whole, and therefore just needs access to the Web, a mail client and the ability to display presentations, I stuck Mageia 3 on it just for fun, with LibreOffice, Firefox and Thunderbird.

Works perfectly. Several hundred pounds saved.

PAE and the ability to display presentations, I st

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Linux

Re: Yes the OS is irrelevant.

Win8 is definitely a turnoff. It's pushing something that you are not looking for if you are buying a PC in 2013. It's bound to be another "downgrade" situation like with Vista. People will want to make sure they can put something ELSE on the hardware.

Win8 tries to flush 30 years of accumulated end user experience.

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Linux

Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

Yes. Win8 is a definite negative. It also has the problem of being associated with devices where you can't install the OS of your choice. It doesn't matter if that "alternative" is Linux or Win7.

Microsoft's intentionally confusing marketing approach doesn't help.

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Meh

Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

You got that right, most people needs simply work well with a tablet. I use my tablet (iPad 1) for internet use about half the time, because its more relaxing and I can do it anywhere. I even respond to blogs and such - even thou my Quad-core i5-3570 with a 24" 1920x1200 monitor is in the same room.

I transferred hundreds of my VHS tapes into digital onto a single 2TB HD. I used an old 2Ghz AMD x2 CPU, it took many many months.... but it still got the job done. Not something for a tablet. But now that the videos are on a computer, I can stream those videos to any computer in my home :)

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Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

The same will not happen to tablets. Hardware that is perfectly capable of running a new version of the OS will be disallowed or crippled. Eventually downloading a game that works with your back level OS will be a challenge.

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Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

But Windows8 is NO faster than Windows7. Other than its hybrid boot system is more than twice as fast. But get this, I put my Win7 computers to sleep... it wakes up in 1 second or so. I rarely reboot or powerdown my computers since I've started using Win7 (XP and older were never stable enough).

Hell, LinuxMint boots up as fast as Win8 on an HDD... And nobody should be running a 1.7Ghz single core anything for desktop use. The P4s were always slloooooow, even for WIn98.

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Holmes

Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

Sorry Nigel11, but WindowsOS has suddenly become irrelevant! That is exactly why MS has made such a radical change to Windows by coming up with a NON-Windows UI.

Let me explain: If we go back to 2005 with Windows XP being used in 95% of personal computers (Mac at around 4%, everything else under 1%) and NOT including servers which were/are mostly Linux. Then as we see, Windows *IS* the OS to have. Everyone bought WindowsPCs and with Vista in 2006 being the performance dog it was - people had to spend a lot of money on CPU and memory to run that POS.

FastForward a few years to 2009: Windows 7 is out, its leaner... but hardware is a lot cheaper. Quad core CPUs are $100, 4GB of RAM is under $100 (When Vista came out, 8GB of RAM would have cost you $400~600 - Hell, when I built my i5-3570K PC last OCT, I paid $75USD for 16GB of RAM).

The iPhone 3GS and Android 2.0 entered market causing the smartphone market to really explode. Microsoft sales of Win7 is excellent, the Netbook sales are becoming popular. Microsoft controls about 94% of the PC market.

Then in 2010 (5 months after Windows 7 went public), something happened. Which Microsoft and geeks said was a "fad" and laughed it off.

The Apple iPad. Which ran iPhone software out of the gate. Its was $400~700 depending on configuration. Netbook sales tanked instantly. Then the iPad 2 came out just when Android tablets started coming out... which were sub-standard to the iPad1 and couldn't compare to the iPad2.

Over the course of 2 years, as people bought tablets - they actually LIKED them. Sure, they were not as WORK savvy as a notebook, but for most people, it was an excellent portable device. Some of those same people started using their tablets over their regular computers. (( In one of my offices in which all desktops and notebooks are Win7, everyone *I mean EVERYONE* has an ipad and/or an iphones)). I know people who DON'T use their notebook computers anymore, just the tablet.

I have a few notebooks in my home, but they require a power cord - their batteries at best worked for 2hrs and I'm not going to spend $100 replacing them. Ever tried using a notebook on a sofa while laying down? You can't. If I want to look up something I see on TV, I can press a button and start searching in seconds... with my notebook - I'd have to either power it up or wait for it to wake up.

There is a trend here, and MS researched this big time. They dumped WinPhone6 to come up with WP7 that is totally incompatible with WP6, etc. It looks kind of slick (I ran an a WP7 Launcher on my Android 2.x phone). But in reality, it was WP6 under-the hood and has problems. WP8 will come out a year later and burn WP7 users - in the mean time - MS is like the titanic, too big, too slow to move. No tablet OS while iPad sales are 5~10m per month... Apple has out-sold the Xbox360 in 2 years, each one a profit.

Now, 2013: Many people use their phones and tablets AS THEIR PERSONAL COMPUTER. My wife uses her phone 95% of the time, rather than her notebook or my iPad. So yes, ipads, Android tablets COUNTS as computers... and here is the thing...

Most people NEVER liked Windows. I sure as hell didn't. Win7 is the first MS-OS I actually liked. I loved my Amigas, MS-DOS was always garbage. Windows3 was never an OS and is pure garbage. Win95 was functional hell. XP was finally a stablish OS. But no, people just wanted access to WEB/MySpace > Facebook and MS Office... the rest games. But, Microsoft makes consoles and help kill PC gaming, so less reason to buy a WindowsPC if the games you want is on a console! (Halo3? Gears of War 2~3? etc ) Yes, us people who use computers to MAKE things, like the PC and IT IS needed for the tools we use. Which is what most PEOPLE don't do.... hence, the tablet or smart phone works just as well - but far more portable.

So again, 2013: Microsoft now has less than 24% of the computer market (not including servers). The IDEA for Windows 8 / TIFKAM / Metro is that Windows was always too hard to use, so they dumbed it down. They want to bring back the USERS to Microsoft. The idea is this: People will Love or learn to use Windows 8, which means they will LOVE Windows 8 tablets and phones. The LOGIC is sound, the execution was not.

Microsoft FAILED to understand the form-factor and function of tablets vs desktop/notebook computers (read above). First, Metro *IS NOT WINDOWS*, there are no Windows in Metro. Metro is not a desktop-oriented UI... nobody ASKED for it.

So, what MS did was take Windows 7, fixed it up a bit - took out some junk (good things), then they made it UGLY, then they bolted on TIFKAM and showed it to the world. Many were not impressed. I myself thought the logic of Win8/Metro was a good idea, UNTIL I USED IT. So now people are NOT buying PCs or buying Win7 when they can. (I have one un-used Win7 disc/lic to use if I ever need it as I migrate to Linux). Yes, the economy is poor. Even Apple desktop sales are down a bit. If that was true, Windows8 PC sales should be down by 5~6%, NOT 14+%! MS chose to ignore the warnings from us... but they offered upgrades for $40, even from the beta version! Win8Pro has never EVER been this cheap! Even cheaper than Win3.1!

Microsoft has gone stupid and no easy ways to fix their problems. They are slow-middle-management no-talent types which is how you come up with crap like Windows 8. Office 2013 is blinding white ugly mess to go with ugly Windows8. Even IE10 for Win7 has been "Win8-skinned" for some stupid reason. So its UI elements doesn't match the rest of the system. This is childish and stupid on their part. Think Apple would be stupid enough to do this? (iOS7 UI is not a good sign - but thats another story).

I've had clients buy extra copies of Office 2010 while they could. I've had one ask me to locate him an Office2010 as he just wasted $400 on office 2013 and doesn't like it. He's SOL... perhaps ebay, he can buy it for $400+, as its sold out in stores.

So, other than a platform to run Office 2013 and a few other business programs - WindowsOS has become irrelevant! By 2014, WindowsOS should be under 20% PC market.

This is what happens when we have a choice. Microsoft deserves to fail... they did it to themselves.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

Eadon - ever heard of the term "Correlation does not imply causation"

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Re: It's not that hard to see the problem

So in summary there are many effects that are causing the drop in PC sales of frankly any type.

1. We are pretty much all cash strapped... Governments, Companies and individuals all are

2. Hardware is lasting longer....... or perhaps we see no genuine advantage in following each and every minor tech upgrade.

3. The PC market is staturated in terms of both supply and a declining demand

4. The green agenda is growing so people are recycling and exploiting older technologies as there is no compelling reason for change.

5. Windows 8 is therefore a train wreck in slow motion as a result of all of these factors; its the wrong product at the wrong time in the cycle of the global market. What I mean by this is when most of your User base are still happy with XP or Windows 7 and the hardware manufacturers haven't yet created the market for touch screen PC's and Laptops........ why oh why would you launch Windows 8.....................

Answer.................

Cos you are Micrososft and you believe that you can walk on water and create the market on your own......... I believe the Yoof's call that an "EPIC FAIL"................... bye bye Balmer!!

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Re: since 2007

Aside from that fact that XP will be taken out and shot in early 2014? Well the fact that a 2002 hardware is itself getting long in the tooth and costing quite a bit to keep running in case of a notebook (Batteries have a 3year/1000 cycles average lifetime, displays age and die, fans die...) and will likely not be fully supported by Win7 or 8.

OS-X may work - on Apple hardware. And even that is not granted, if Apple does not deliver the new version or Mac-OS and the last you can use gets retired - see XP.

Granted, some special cases exist (no internet connected hardware mostly) but those are rare

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New sales tactic needed

Relying on selling PCs based solely on the idea "It's got a NEW version of windows, that's better because it's ..... new" just doesn't work. It turns out that all the functionality that customers want can be got from Windows 2000 or XP. Since then the "features" that have been added are generally just bug fixes, security fixes, support for new hardware and 64-bit architectures. Sure, each version has been given a nice new shiny GUI, but from a "what will it do?" perspective, it's still just Windows.

If the only strategy PC makers have for selling there wares is based on the Windows version number and consequent increments in application version numbers, then they've got nothing.

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Holmes

And in other news...

Bear observed defecating in forest area; Pope wears white hat.

Raven is quite right in that most who want a laptop/computer already have one - but those who might be considering upgrading are looking at what is available and the OS with which it is supplied and are not, for some reason, being persuaded.

For some reason, laptop development in particular appears to have stalled: selling cheap computers with screens of insufficient resolution and containing insufficient memory isn't going to shift stock except to granny - and she's quite happy with the one she's already got. It's no good making them cheaper - make them better.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And in other news...

Exactly. Since my touchpad blew up I'm considering a new laptop. But I haven't bought one, simply because the available Windows 7 options aren't attractive at the moment. I will not buy Windows 8.

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Re: And in other news...

Indeed, we have an XP laptop in the lounge at present. When it dies we'll buy a shiny tablet to replace it. You really only need one actual PC in the house these days anyway, for the odd occasion when there's some proper work to be done.

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Re: And in other news...

go to Lenovo, they can ship out a Thinkpad within a week with Windows7Pro. Usually $450~1000USD

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We heard a train wreck a year ago

is it still on fire?

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Windows

Not the fire this time. It's over. You just had to listen.

Catholic bears defecate on pope in tree-infested areas etc.

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Re: Windows 8 METRO SCREEN OF MEH

You're boring now.

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Re: Windows 8 METRO SCREEN OF MEH

He's been boring for quite some time.

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My thoughts...

It’s a mix of things, but comes down to Windows 8 not offering what is wanted or needed, and hardware not requiring the same aggressive upgrade schedule as prior:

1) The competition for W8 is W7 and XP. 7 still works, and for me is the best Windows version. XP still works, albeit that MS support will die soon. This leaves a choice (bar the expensive pay for support route) for business or consumer – go from XP to 7 (evolution of interface) or go to 8 (revolution of interface). The latter does not appeal for the pain of “retraining”, hence 7 will “win”. 8 is wrong for that demographic

2) Touch is stupid on anything but a tablet/slate, I hate moving my hands off a keyboard to put grease on the screen, moving to a mouse (or trackpad) is easy, and doesn’t leave fingerprints to drive you nuts. 8’s Big Thing is the thing that hampers it.

3) Touch screens are not cheap, so putting it (pointlessly) on a laptop adds significantly to the cost for minimal usability gains, so why buy one?

4) Last year’s hardware is still easily good enough to run just about anything you’d care to throw at it. Hardware upgrades are now either on lease expiry or damage, not “we don’t have the processing power, and that “Turbo” button is fooling nobody”.

5) People are not spending money unless there is no alternative. Most of them have an adequate desk/lap top

MS needs to sort this out, just make a new OS that gives a compelling reason to upgrade. It will then sell. Sure, make it look stylistically similar across phones, tablets, desk/laptops, but don’t force a mobile OS into a desktop OS to try and lever your monopoly somewhere on an area you are weak in. Just make them similar enough to be recognisable. That’s something iOS/OSX seems to do well, they are clearly the same “family” but serving different purposes. The way to sort this – drop the Windows name and sack Ballmer. Find someone who knows what to do and will actually listen to the guys who know (and have the money) – the users.

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Re: My thoughts...

"go from XP to 7 (evolution of interface)"

Couldn't agree more. We still have several XP machines to upgrade over the next few years and win8.X is not part of the plan. A common platform makes support that much easier.

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Re: My thoughts...

Not only does W8 work beautiful without touch - it also needs a lot less mouse. So you can keep the hands on the keyboard a lot more.

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