The latest edition of Microsoft’s software, Windows 8, failed to pack shoppers into the stores during the recent holiday season. Some of the customers viewing the Microsoft product in stores said that they were intrigued by the eye-catching design of Windows 8, but not enough to purchase a new computer at that time. Plenty of consumers seem to be content to make do with their current PCs until the shaky economy has visibly stabilized. The system’s unfamiliar design also appeared to be making some consumers cautious.
Microsoft and other companies that depend heavily on the computer business reported weak PC sales during this past holiday season. Acer, the No. 4 PC maker in the world, said sales of the company’s Windows 8 PCs had been less than expected. Emmanuel Fromont, president of the Americas division of Acer, said, “There was not a huge spark in the market. It’s a slow start, there’s no question.”
Sales of Windows machines have decreased from a year ago, according to research firm NPD. From late October, when Windows 8 made its debut, through the first week in December, stores in the United States sold 13% fewer Windows devices than in the same period last year. Those figures do not include sales in Microsoft’s own stores
Now, the company’s PCs also have to compete with less expensive mobile devices bidding for a share of consumer’s wallets. Smartphones and tablets have become serious rivals in the technology market. Tablets running Microsoft’s new, touch-friendly Windows have failed to emerge from the shadow of competing products from Apple, Amazon, and other device makers.
Stephen Baker, an analyst at NPD, said, “I think everybody would have hoped for a better start. The thing is, this market is not the same market that Windows 7 or Vista or even XP launched into.” A. M. Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, said, “What you’re seeing is not a retirement of PCs, but a push-out in the replacement cycle. If people used to buy PCs every four years and are now buying them every five years, that could lower PC sales by 20% over time. That’s substantial.”