Microsoft released its quarterly earnings report yesterday, and there was a bit of good news for the company’s Windows business. The company announced that it had sold 60 million Windows 8 licenses and that it was making more money off of the operating system than last year. Windows 8 is performing worse than Windows 7 and Vista, however, and Microsoft is putting the blame on its hardware partners.
In a report from The Register, a source close to Microsoft says that the company is blaming PC makers for the lackluster Windows 8 sales that the company has seen thus far. Microsoft says its hardware partners are not following the “clear and specific guidance” it gave on how Windows 8 hardware should look and operate, specifically the touchscreen input that it wanted in every machine.
PC makers are reportedly objecting to Microsoft’s accusations saying that its “guidance” would have led to expensive PCs that nobody would understand or want. It would have led them to the situation that Microsoft is in now with its Surface RT tablet – a lot of expensive product rotting on shelves. The manufacturers also blame the rise of cheap alternatives, like Android tablets, and a marketing campaign that didn’t properly explain Windows RT. In fact, the latter is the very reason that Samsung won’t be bringing its Windows RT tablet to the U.S.
All of this reeks a little of deja vu as Microsoft has occasionally been at odds with its hardware partners over the decisions it makes. The most recent was its secret development of the Surface tablet that was a complete surprise to hardware partners.
It’s not like any of this is going to suddenly destroy the long standing relationship between Microsoft and OEMs though. Both realize that they need the other to survive. The PC is still a popular piece of hardware even if global shipments are falling. Maybe what’s best is that both parties temper their expectations and aggressively market to its strongest allies – the power user, enterprise and education.
So, what is Microsoft going to do in response to sluggish Windows 8 sales? The Register’s source says the company will be rebooting the launch of Windows 8 alongside the launch of the Surface Pro tablet on February 9. It’s not known what form this “reboot” will take, but it could very well tie into the rumored Windows Blue launch scheduled for 2013.
It will be interesting to see how much of this pans out in the coming year. A reboot of Windows 8 this soon after the launch might be seen as a sign of Microsoft’s admittance that Windows 8 was a “disaster,” but it could also be the best thing to happen to the struggling operating system.