OEMs continue to fail on the Windows 8 Launch

The more I wander around looking at Windows 8 in the retail channel the more frustrated I become.  There remains very little availability of systems that showcase Windows 8.  By that I mean, where are systems that make you feel you have to replace that old laptop or desktop that you are generally satisfied with?  For the most part stores are filled with very nice, but modest, revisions of the laptops/notebooks and desktops that were available a year earlier for Windows 7.  The myriad of announced, and in some cases heavily advertised, convertibles and tablets are AWOL.

On a recent visit to Australia I noted a tremendous amount of Windows 8 advertising by Microsoft, Intel, and the OEMs.  Images of the ASUS Taichi, Sony Vaio Duo 11, Dell XPS12, and numerous other convertibles and tablets filled TV screens, posters, and billboards.  Microsoft is heavily advertising the Surface, which in Australia is only available online.  I was hopeful that many of these advertised products had made their way into retailer and stopped at a few to check.

What a let-down!  Harvey Norman (kind of the Best Buy of Australia) had a couple of rows of laptops running Windows 8, but only a couple had touch screens.  Their all-in-one display was similar, with only a single system having a touch screen.  They had no convertibles and no x86 Windows 8 tablets.  The only tablet they offered was the ubiquitous ASUS VivoTab RT.  They had a brochure for the x86-based VivoTab but no actual device.  One might be forgiven for classifying Windows 8 tablets and convertibles as vaporware.

So the question for those watching Windows 8 adoption is this, what out there would drive rapid adoption?  There are plenty of goodies in Windows 8 for every type of system, but the real magic occurs when you throw in touch and new form factors.  When I walk into a retail store nothing says to me “your Toshiba Portege R705 is a dinosaur that you must replace”.

Today I think most Win8 adoption on new PCs is little more than a 1-for-1 replacement for sales of Win7-based PCs that would have happened anyway.  In other word, you were going to get a new PC in November whether or not Windows 8 was out.  Maybe you waited for Windows 8 since you might as well get the latest rather than deal with an upgrade later.  Or maybe you are taking advantage of deals as retailers unload Windows 7 PC inventory.

What you are not doing is saying is “even though I don’t really need a new laptop, I am going to get a convertible so I don’t have to carry a notebook and a tablet around with me all the time.”  You can’t say that because you can’t actually find one of those convertibles.  Vaporware?

I’m baffled by press, analysts, OEMs, and retailers who are complaining that Windows 8 isn’t saving the PC industry.  They still don’t get it.  Windows 8 couldn’t do a damn thing to make classic form-factor PCs so attractive that their sales would explode.  They represent a mature market with a steady to declining replacement rate as some scenarios are addressed by alternate form factors.  It is only by embracing the new form factors, including large screen touch-based devices, that the PC industry can reverse its decline.  And so far, other than Vapor, the PC industry has largely failed to do so.

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13 Responses to OEMs continue to fail on the Windows 8 Launch

  1. Tom says:

    The OEMs do deserve some of the blame, to be sure. But at this point, the retailers are holding things up far more than are the OEMs.

    Best Buy, for example, has been offered several hybrids. They refused to carry them. They simply don’t think there is a premium market for touchscreen PCs, and apparently they’re going to do their part to make sure that one never develops.

    This is why I keep harping on the theme of needing 2000 Microsoft stores … yesterday. Microsoft is running all of these ads, and most people have no place to try out a touchscreen Windows 8 machine. If it’s not actionable, then the ad money has largely been wasted. Much better to spend the money on making sure people can actually try out a Surface.

  2. I don’t think any great new Windows 8 form factor can make a serious dent in current situation. The reality is that everyone has a working Windows 7 PC and it makes much more sense to keep using it while adding an inexpensive tablet to handle the content consumption scenarios. The choice is to buy a brand new Ultrabook (hybrid or straight laptop) for $1000 or keep the Windows 7 PC that works fine and buy a Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire for $200 or an iPad mini for $330. If you want the Cadillac, get the full iPad for $500.

    My wife was in this exact situation. She has a 7 year old desktop running Windows 7. She wanted a new laptop but before we pulled the trigger, she said she’d like to check out tablets. Wound up buying her an iPad mini. She absolutely loves it and uses her PC about 75% less than before. She figures that 7 year old desktop will last her another 3-4 years because it works fine and gets so little use.

  3. Well i ordered my surface on october, 17th – and Microsoft still failed to deliver the machine. I’m non longer sure they even have any …

  4. Price is one reason, the incompetence of the Best Buys is another. I’m with Tom, “2000 Microsoft stores … yesterday.” Why are these retail stores taking so long?! Are they making money? Then lets get on it, and faster. My god how long are you going to let these outlets ruin the Windows experience.

    I saw 2 computers that I could highly recommend in Best Buy, the rest I could not. One was a $499 touch screen Asus Model Q200E-BHI3T 45. Did you hear that? Hey Mom, go get the Q200E-BHI3T 45! It’s like a Surface but harder to pronounce, shaped like a netbook and hidden in the corner. The other was an Acer for around $700 with a 14″ touch screen and a 128gb SSD.

    And the rabid press reviews are hard for these consumers to ignore. My Mom was telling me about some local newspaper “tech reporter” advising people to run from Windows 8. Yet every time I put it on display for my customers, they become instantly intrigued. MUCH harder than the last release coming off of Vista. A part of me wishes Microsoft would have had the non-touch laptops land in the desktop screen, and the touch laptops land on the touch interface because as you walk down the isle at Best Buy it is hard to tell them apart. Lack of education on MS part as well. The product is mostly solid.

  5. Kishor Gurtu says:

    At its current trajectory, Microsoft is going to end up like IBM – making boring things for companies as boring as itself.

    • krfujkfg says:

      You are obviously quite lacking in knowledge about IBM.

      Sure they may seem boring on the retail front, but you do realise they are still one of the world’s most amazing powerhouses for R&D right? Ever looked at how many technology patents IBM has had accepted? And for actual real stuff, not Apple style patents.

      As a hard core techie and software engineer I’d give my left testicle to work in their R&D divisions. Comparing Microsoft and IBM is just wrong.

  6. n says:

    There is nothing wrong with the current form factors. They have just failed on windows 8 because it’s awful to use, buggy, and not as open so advanced users don’t want it. Just like they don’t want touchscreens on their desktop machines. Because of MS’s screw ups with 8 Linux is becoming more popular, hopefully it will be more widely supported soon.

  7. Tim says:

    To add to the frustration, I also see multiple WP8 billboards in Atlanta and assumed there is a good presence of those in the stores. Not so. I made calls to multiple Verizon stores all said they’re not sure if they’ll carry the devices. So I went to Best Buy to make the switch from Android to WP8. I purchased the HTC 8x (and am very pleased with it) but it was a frustrating experience. No WP8 devices on display, one 8x at the counter with a team of people who didn’t know anything about the phone. When I asked to see the Nokia, they hadn’t heard of the Lumia 822 and said they didn’t have any in stock. Later, as they were trying to find another color of the HTC in their locked cabinets, they came across boxes of the Lumia 822. I emailed the store’s general manager, who replied and assured me the problem would be addressed.

    I’m glad to see Microsoft heavily advertising their Windows 8 products, but they need to have a serious conversation with OEMs and retailers or that advertising money won’t do much good.

  8. Allen says:

    MIcrosoft stores aren’t much help either even though they have higher quality sales people compare with Best Buy. The store dedicates so much space to Surface RT tablets but their sales people are all recommending customers to wait for Surface Pro because of PC compatibility. Now we are hearing Surface Pro has only 4 hour battery life because it is not using Atom. …Sigh…

  9. 81stcolumn says:

    So here in NZ I waited and waited and waited I have managed get my hands on maybe six or seven touch enabled Win8 devices. I finally bought on-line overseas………….

  10. Brian says:

    I was in Fry’s a few night ago. The first thing I noticed is that there is no easy way to distinguish a touch system from a non-touch system other than by swiping your finger on the start screen. I can’t believe that no one in MSFT marketing thought to create an easy to figure out “This PC Supports Win8 Touch” logo.

    I asked the sales guy about Win8 and Touch. First he complained about how he’d love to be selling the Surface (I had mentioned I was there to by a MicroSD card for my new Surface). Then he pointed out that they had only a handful of touch-enabled systems. He also complained that none of the systems had any internet connections and that the sales guys didn’t have logins. He said that they’d had some training, but “The OS doesn’t really demo to customers well without either a login or an internet connection”.

    Nothing there really stood out and said “hey, this is cool, you need a new PC”.

    Oh, and I asked about touch-enabled monitors (I’d love to put one on my work-horse desktop machine at home). He said that they had two, one was crappy and just expensive (around $400) and the other was really expensive (over $1000).

  11. pmenaduePeter says:

    I’m also amazed, but I am afraid not surprised anymore.

    PC OEMs were very very slow to embrace decent industrial design – and now that they are, they still make a number of silly mistakes:

    – Their model portfolio is so large it’s confusing to consumers, and doesnt allow them to get scale and volumes that allow them to compete at a supply chain level with Apple. HP, Lenovo, and to a lesser extent Dell are villians here – how many different Thinkpad models are there in addition to their other model families? Yes, I know choice is good – but too much choice isn’t helping. Apple can invest deeply in R&D for few models and have good volumes which help supply chain – buying better and volumes that support part manufacturers doing customisation.

    – The buying experience is difficult as you’ve outlined above – but it’s not just in stores – online also – I tried not so long ago to purchase a HP laptop and gave up it was so hard (glad I did!).

    – Model differentiation is confusing – so key selling points are lost in the noise or lack of clear marketing – too much detail isnt better.

    – The end experience – still too many PC manufacturers ship with bloatware, crappy packaging, stickers all over the PCs, lousy peripherals & accessories (How many new nice industrial designs are still complemented by a cheap big block power supply for example?)

    I recently got a Surface – and while it’s not perfect, it’s certainly much better at all of these points than most PC manufacturers (Distribution may impact volumes however)

    I would welcome a Surface laptop, but I can’t see why the PC OEMs cant lift their own game.

  12. Michael says:

    I don’t understand the complaints, there have been a number of reports that the Atom CPU from Intel was delayed meaning the only tablet OEMs can more easily display is the ARM based one or Core i5 which I can understand their hesitance in adopting as ARM can’t run desktop software and Core i5 pushes the price higher than what the average consumer is willing to pay.

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