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Chris Stephens (Vice President - Operations)

UPDATE: Windows 8 vs. Windows 7

Written on April 11, 2013 by Chris Stephens

Back in December, Brett brought some interesting information about the sales of Windows 8 vs. Windows 7. Yesterday some not-so-good-news dropped about the state of PC shipments in the last quarter.

So I thought I would do a follow-up because the last quarter here at Puget Systems has been great, contrary to the market at large. After reading the news yesterday I began to wonder how much of an impact Windows 8 really was having in the greater consumer PC market. I concede there are larger market forces at play here and the mobile market is a beast, for sure. But, there is a big difference in strategy among PC system builders.


Yes, as Brett pointed out, we still offer Windows 7 along with Windows 8, various Linux releases, heck, even Windows XP; you can pick your flavor. However, about 60% of the PC market is controlled by 5 companies. When you walk into your local retailer you will see rows and rows of their machines...almost all on Windows 8. After buying the bulk of 60 million Windows 8 licenses the major PC manufacturers had little choice than to open an ice cream shop with just one flavor: Windows 8.

So given a choice, what are people deciding to install? I ran some sales figures starting from when Brett's numbers left off up thru yesterday and here are the results:

As you can see there is still overwhelming demand for Windows 7. Personally, I am still running Windows 7 and let my upgrade offer expire. I have my reasons for sticking with Win7 and I am happy with my choice.

Did you make the switch to Win8 or not? What do you think, did Windows 8 speed up the decline of PC sales last quarter?

Tags: Windows 7, Windows 8, sales, Microsoft, PC

Windows 8 is goodness for those with tablets and even touch screens. But realistically, how many people have desktop touch screens, or even want to use one? Carpal tunnel in the wrists is bad enough - I don't need a new shoulder ailment due to reaching across my desk to control my desktop.

So, in the absence of a tablet, what does Windows 8 gain me over Windows 7? Not a whole lot. Technical folks can point to a few advantages, but these are irrelevant to most users and businesses. A lot of folks have told me they're waiting until SP1 comes out.

I think the Win7/Win8 issue has more to do with hardware than software. The hardware is in flux, as the industry is migrating to more tablet devices. We have good desktop PCs and we have good tablets, but folks are still waiting for good affordable hybrids that function equally well as desktop and as mobile devices. There are a few good products out there, but we've still got a way to go, especially in the areas of hardware and cellular affordability.

Posted on 2013-04-11 15:22:37
Avatar ChemicalDeath

Windows 8's is simply a dumbing-down of the UI. Microsoft has lost it's senses.

Posted on 2013-04-11 16:18:26

I have been running Windows 8 since it came out. After an install of a third party application called "Classic Shell" it performs much like Win7 just markedly faster. My games are snappier, apps load faster, etc. I have no issues with it now that the tiles are gone. They are still accessible, but hidden away for use only if I want them.

Posted on 2013-04-11 16:33:31

I use that program as well, here at work where I have Win8, and it definitely helps. It doesn't feel faster than my Win7 system at home, though... but then the system specs are somewhat different, so that might account for it.

Posted on 2013-04-11 16:48:26
Avatar Landers Hall

ViStart from lee-soft.com is what I use. Combine that with CCleaner and the "Wise Care" disk and registry cleaners, and I find that Windows 8 is not only useable, but way better than Windows 7, snappier, faster. I suspect it's an improved kernel combined with ditching Aero.

Posted on 2013-04-12 03:19:01

Windows 8 will improve, it just was not the best way to present the UI and switch between them. I am using Windows 7, Windows 8 and OSx. Apple has done the same with OSx in a way but you are first presented with the desktop and the icons (iOS style) come up only when you select that menu. It has an App store to quickly and easily install things you know should work and won't contain malware. So this is where Windows 8 also shines, my kids love Windows 8 on their desktop because now they can install apps, choose apps, etc. without the complicated start menu with nested folders and having to search the net for a decent app that they could install safely (we all know that is pretty hard). They only go to the desktop for IE, which is easier to use on the desktop than in the Metro UI, another mistake in Windows 8.

If Microsoft had chosen the Apple way, leave the start menu, and the desktop was the first thing you boot into. Then make the Metro(Win8) UI maybe a special icon on the desktop or start menu, I don't think we'd be having this conversation. Yes, tablets would still be making the PC market drop some but probably some that rejected Windows 8 might have stuck with it.

Posted on 2013-04-11 17:04:07

You are close to what I think should have been done. Yes, leave the Start Menu... but then have the choice of whether to default to the Desktop or new Start screen be select-able when setting Windows up. If installation detects a touch-screen, suggest Start but allow Desktop to be picked instead - and likewise if no touch device is found suggest Desktop as default but allow users to pick Start instead. Further, let them change that within the OS at a later time (this is currently impossible without add-on software).

Also, most of us used the 'nested start menu' for, what, 17 years? If it worked then why can't folks starting to use PCs today figure it out? Dumbing things down is not the right path to take. Likewise, people should learn how to find safe software online. Windows and app stores won't always be there to hold their hand, and learning safe internet practices is important!

Posted on 2013-04-11 17:08:52
Avatar Stephens_Chris

I think MSFT was shooting for creating a simpler UI but missed the mark. My opinion is that MSFT is so used to people "living with it" they thought they could produce a sort of conditioning of its users into adoption. Kind of like you can have anything on the menu you want as long as it's eggs/beets/carrots/spam/etc. What they didn't count on is when you are so disruptive to the environment you give competition the chance to snag customers with superior products. People looked at it and "felt" it was radically different and decided, "what the heck, if i am going to have to change anyhow..."

I guess my argument is that customers that may have hung on for 1 or 2 more buying cycles, which would have bought MSFT time, bailed early because it appeared to be so different anyways it "freed" them up to go elsewhere.

Posted on 2013-04-11 18:39:13

Finding the same quality free or cheap software online was failing horribly, especially for an 8 year old and 5 year old who can now find tons of great games and anything else within seconds in the Windows Store. Once they leave that and go to the normal desktop Windows environment for something to play, unless it is a flash game on a well known kids site (pbskids.org, disney, etc.) it is a disaster. Links that say download but download spam download managers, and finding the right link takes forever if you ever do. Shareware that was really for XP and just sucks. etc. The nested menu works for people who are used to it and those that get minimal stuff installed but once you have a lot of apps installed it is a mess. Uninstall links, help docs, etc. It does not work in the least for most people.

Posted on 2013-04-11 22:06:00
Avatar Sean Long

I chose Win7, for two reasons.

On the one hand, my prior machine ran on Vista, so Win7 would already be a step forward for me.

On the other hand, as a rule of thumb "don't be an early adopter for even-numbered versions of Windows". It seems to me that Microsoft has two "modes" of thought when working on a new iteration of Windows: "Refine and polish", versus "Revolution and Progress".

Odd-numbered iterations are generally the former; Win7 is a refined, polished, incrementally-advanced version of Vista. Even-numbered iterations, OTOH, are much more the latter - with Win8, they're trying to push their limits, trying radically new things.

Things that may not work out, or even work at all, the way they intended or planned.


Things I don't want to be a guinea pig for. So, for me ... Win9, maybe. But not Win8, not for at least Service Pack 1, or maybe even Service Pack 2. :)

Posted on 2013-04-11 23:21:01
Avatar mike

no. windows 8 is a joke. its windows phone gui with a hint of windows 7 desktop. i want a pc when i buy a pc not a joke

Posted on 2013-04-12 02:43:38
Avatar Preston_B

I had Win 7 installed on my first Puget machine, and to keep things basically the same, I asked them to install it on my new Traverse laptop. So, no, I have not switched to Win 8, nor do I have any desire to do so at the moment.

I do a lot of work in Photoshop and use a Wacom graphics tablet and pen for many image editing tasks. I find that CS6 and my Wacom play very nicely on Win 7, so, unless MS gives me any easy way to use a known desktop, a-la Win 7, I'll keep what I have.
I do like the suggestion that Aaron proposed: the Apple model. I think that would be step in the right direction for Windows.

I can certainly see where the simple Win 8 UI and the app store would be a boon for parents for the apps their kids like. At the same time, though, kids are really smart, and with guidance as far as to what they download, and from where, they will become more adept at working with a more complex OS and file system.

I am reminded of a quote by Albert Einstein, "The Universe should be a simple as possible, but not simpler".

I do think that MS over-reached this time, and that certainly is reducing PC sales, but the other market forces for highly portable devices such as phones and tablets is perhaps the greatest influence on the drop in PC sales. One thing I am curious about though: I wonder how many people bought PC's with Win 8 and then 'downgraded' to Win 7 once they found that Win 8 wasn't for them? Perhaps we'll never know.

Nice post, Chris, and a great topic for discussion by those of us 'in the trenches'.

Posted on 2013-04-12 04:26:35
Avatar Neville Sarkari

I'm using Win 8 on a desktop PC since October 2012 (no touch screen) and I'm happy. I've used it all since MS-DOS 2.1, so I don't mind change. Add to that a great new PC from the Puget folks, and I've had no real complaints about Win 8. That being said, I use it in the desktop mode about 98% of the time, and only flip to the tiles very rarely...

Posted on 2013-04-22 02:07:25
Avatar Preston_B

It will be interesting to see if the upcoming Windows 8.1 (Windows Blue) will intice folks to adopt Win 8.

Some reports I have read indicate that MS will include an option to boot straight to the desktop and there will be a return of the Start Button/Menu, while others are saying this isn't true.

Here's what CNET had to say: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1....

So, at this juncture, we'll just have wait and see what the changes are when the Preview is released in June. 8.1 is due for RTM this August.

Posted on 2013-04-28 15:01:56
Avatar Daniel Brown

If you hate Windows 8, maybe it's time to give Ubuntu a try. It's free, and you can try it on a live CD without even installing it to your hard drive. Just saying.

Posted on 2013-05-01 05:52:56
Avatar Bhess

I like Win 8 now but it took an aggravating week to get used to it. MS would have done themselves and customers a favor by putting some documentation in the box going over the changes and how to navigate the new OS.
No one puts documentation in anything anymore. Remember when computer games had maps and keyboard layouts?

Posted on 2013-05-09 00:59:36

I always wondered why they didn't have a little tutorial upon first boot up, showing you (interactively) how to use the main features. Something - almost anything - would have been better than dumping people into a new UI without any help.

Posted on 2013-05-09 16:10:40

We agree! We couldn't bring ourselves to accept the lack of UI documentation on our PCs, so we made up our own 1 page guide on Windows 8 in our packet binder we ship with each PC.

Posted on 2013-05-09 16:20:06
Avatar Stephens_Chris

Remember when you used to get a full-on manual?!?

Posted on 2013-05-10 21:00:26
Avatar MS

To be honest, I bought from Puget purely because of the ability to chose Windows 7. Had the "big players" offered choice, I probably would have just bought there as I have always done. In a very real sense, Puget gained a new customer (and likely a repeat customer) because of the WIndows 8 debacle.

Posted on 2013-06-02 04:00:58
Avatar mwcampbell

I chose Windows 8 Pro in the build I ordered today. A few reasons:

1. I'm a software developer, and a lot of the software I work on is for Windows. So I need to keep up with the latest.

2. Windows 8 Pro has built-in Hyper-V virtualization. I figure virtualization will be more reliable if it's built into the stock OS kernel, not a third-party add-on.

3. Though I still find the Start screen somewhat jarring, there are other aspects of the Windows 8 look that I like, such as the login screen and the all-around flatter UI.

I suppose I'm in the minority, though.

Posted on 2013-06-29 01:34:27
Avatar Kyle Hill

The other shoe that was dropped was compatibility. For most people setting up emulators is a pain and they don't always perform as good especially with 3D software/games that are heavy demanding like Sim City 3000 or 4 or some obscure games like New Adventures Of The Time Machine.

Or even more obscure some of Microsoft Kids programs back when they had a lineup of software developed in-house to work to the max on that OS.

Nobody wants an OS without software. It's like buying a toaster without any bread and you just do waffles in it which you'd be better off with a waffle maker. (Android)

Posted on 2017-05-04 14:31:54
Avatar Kyle Hill

With each OS compatibility is more and more limited. Damon Tools Lite 4.5 is not compatible with 10 and the new one you can't mount to SCI.

Posted on 2017-05-04 14:32:44