When Microsoft launched its newest operating system, Windows 8, last year, it had high hopes to take the market by storm. However, its reception was more like that of the much-maligned Windows Vista debacle of a few years back. Nonetheless, Windows 8 has found a niche where it's doing quite nicely.
Part of the problem with Windows 8, according to a report in InformationWeek, is that it was designed to function best on touch-screen computers. But most of the OS installations have been on previous generation hardware that is unable to fully take advantage of the touch interface. This is particularly true in the corporate realm.
Another part of the problem is that corporate IT departments are quite happy with previous iterations of the venerable Microsoft operating system. Windows 7, Windows 8’s predecessor, has captured 47.5 percent of the market, while the old faithful of computing, Windows XP, is still used by almost 40 percent of corporations.
When Microsoft drops support for XP in less than a year, there will be a flurry of corporate upgrading. The jury is out on whether those upgrades will be to the proven Windows 7, with its familiar user interface, or to the touch-oriented Windows 8.
The bright spot for Windows 8, though, has been the tablet market. Though Microsoft was an early-mover in the tablet market, it lost interest and pretty much let the tablet lie fallow — until the company received a wake-up call when Apple introduced the iPad and it became a phenomenal success.
Microsoft is now making up for lost time. In the first three months of this year, 3 million Windows 8 tablets were sold, and the OS captured 7.5 percent of the tablet market. As InformationWeek puts it, "This number is, by no means, a home run; Apple sold 19.5 million iPads during the same period, and Android is poised to surpass Apple for industry's overall lead."
But it is more than respectable and a bright sign for the future of Windows 8, at least in the tablet realm, InformationWeek believes. To put Windows 8 acceptance into perspective, its 7.5 percent share of the tablet space is around double its overall market penetration. Windows 8 fell short as a paradigm-busting replacement for Windows 7 but has staked out a respectable place in the tablet market.
The bonanza may come soon, as new entrants are being introduced into the industry's fastest-growing race for small, cheap devices, currently dominated by the Nexus 7, iPad mini and others. And Microsoft has confirmed the rumors that 8-inch Windows 8 tablets are coming next.
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