You don't hate Windows 8

I nearly hurled coffee onto Nexus 10 this morning -- seriously had to choke back -- when seeing this ridiculous ZDNet headline: "Will 90 percent of users always hate Windows 8?" I immediately thought that someone must have done a shocking and provocative survey. But, no-o-o-o-o, writer Matt Baxter-Reynolds pulls the figure from his bee hind. He surmises this sensational figure based on absolutely nothing.

Coincidentally, I conducted two polls over the weekend designed to gauge Windows 8 sentiments -- what you really think about Microsoft's flagship operating system. I asked: "If Microsoft sold Window Vista, 7, and 8 side by side and you could buy the one you wanted most, which would you choose?" and "Is Windows 8 a failure?" We have a split decision on the latter, from good sample sizes -- more than 1,500 for the longer question and exceeding 1,300 for the other.

By the Numbers

Polls like this one are unqualified. We don't filter who answers but do presume that responses largely reflect the attitudes of BetaNews readership, which tends to be more developer- and IT-oriented -- the kind of customers most likely to use Windows already. The results gauge sentiment and surely refute any ridiculous claim that 90 percent of users hate Windows 8.

The distinction is important, because, based on actual adoption, the figure could apply to Windows Vista. I conducted the polls because a Samsung executive clams that "Windows 8 system is no better than the previous Windows Vista platform". That 90 percent figure, if accurate, would put Windows 8 in the same category of failure as Vista. Funny, I had already planned to share poll numbers today. The ZDNet story offers unexpected backdrop against which to cast the results.

To the longer question, the majority -- 56.55 percent -- would choose Windows 7, compared to 36.9 percent Windows 8. Vista falls below any reasonable margin of error to near zero (10 responses). The second question is perhaps more important, and the numbers are close: 44.8 percent say Windows 8 is a failure, while 41.53 percent don't agree. Given the sample size and unqualified responses, the numbers are statistically the same.

I can safely conclude based on not one but two polls that any assertion "90 percent of users hate Windows 8" is inaccurate. More than one-third of respondents would chose the operating system, which actually is a strong endorsement in context. That being: Most businesses only recently upgraded to Windows 7, and many IT shops put compatibility above all other considerations when deploying software. Meanwhile, IDC attributes sluggish fourth-quarter PC shipments in part to "limited supply of touch-enabled Windows 8 models", which is "out of step with the touch focus of Windows 8". As I asserted last week, the operating system really shines on a touchscreen computer.

Based on the other poll, feelings are clearly mixed about whether Windows 8 is a failure or success. Either can be measured many different ways. To reiterate, my poll seeks to gauge sentiment, as perceptions greatly influences purchase decisions. Do you buy a car with reports of bad brakes or choose another? Windows 8's reputation is crucial to its future acceptance -- or not.

What You Say

Comments are another great way to gauge sentiments, and you had much to say. "All this chatter about Windows 8 being another Vista exists and that will put people off buying a new machine; this is happening, look at the sales numbers of new PCs", derekaw comments. "Windows 8 offered no sales bump and PC sales are still in decline. MS made a mistake with Windows 8".

BetaNews reader nvic:

To answer the article title question: Windows 8 is worse than Vista on a PC, better than 7 on a tablet. It was made for touch, and does very well in that field, although I've yet to see a decent commercially available Win8 tablet beyond Surface (Pro).

In my opinion, part of the reason it's flopping is the bad rep from being sold to the wrong market (non-touch PCs) and being hated by its users as a result. They also removed or hid a lot of the stuff power users want in an OS, leaving those users out. Why should I pay to upgrade to a product that lets me have less control? Such limitations are expected on a tablet, but intrusive and unwanted on a PC...

For those who are curious how much it's disliked on non-touch PCs, I've helped downgrade 107 to date, and mind you I only do this on the side, I'm in college (IT student)...On the other hand, we've both had zero trouble recommending 8 as an upgrade for the few people we've come across who had x86 tablets running 7.

"Disaster is much too strong a word. It's not a disaster", johnrc2 comments. "There are simply some touch features that are not particularly useful on a non-touch machine, but other than than, it's a nice upgrade to Windows 7. I use Windows 7 on 3 desktops, Windows 8 on 3 laptops, and Windows 8 on one Surface Pro. Where's the disaster? I'm just not seeing it".

Steephill:

I use a computer 8-11 hours a day and upgraded to Win8 after the first couple weeks it came out. If anything it has increased functionality, rather than limitations. All the new functionality underneath the UI is great. All the Metro/Modern UI is is a full screen Start menu. You use it the same way as a start menu too, click the win key and start typing the program you want. I think the hate comes from, not it being bad but, it being different. Just like if you gave someone who was used to Windows a Ubuntu Unity laptop they'd hate the UI, doesn't make Ubuntu Unity bad. It's just different.

HornyToad (don't you just love these monikers): "Windows 8 is more stable, more responsive and generally easier and more pleasant to use than Windows 7 has ever been, in my experience".

"Windows 8 is great --when it's set up as windows 7", Benni Bennetsen opines. "So if only Metro had been an add-on that you could choose it would have success. Now it depends on knowing people who can change its look n feel or live with it, and I don't know anyone who likes Metro".

I do. On a touchscreen.

Noremacam expresses my sentiments:

Windows 8 is like vista, but I don't mean it is a failure. Windows Vista paved the way for Windows 7 with new technologies, and new frameworks. Windows Vista made windows 7 a success. Windows 8 introduced a bunch of new technologies and frameworks and it's suffering again. I'm convinced windows "blue" or whatever the next windows will be, will be massively better because of the work in Windows 8.

Since before the Consumer Preview, I have expressed in various stories that Windows 8 wouldn't be big. It's a transitional operating system coming when most businesses just upgraded to Windows 7 or are in process of doing so and when tablets capture consumer interests more. If Microsoft wants to make big changes in architecture, strategy and user experience, the best time is when the core market -- business -- isn't going to upgrade anyway. Windows 8 has always been about what comes next. But that doesn't make what's here bad.

What's the quote from Jessica Rabbit: "I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way".

Photo Credit: Joe Wilcox

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