The Register reports a rumoured blame game playing out between Microsoft and its OEM partners concerning why Windows 8 sales have not taken off in the hoped-for manner.
A separate source at a major Windows 8 PC maker confirmed frustration is simmering inside Microsoft, and the blame is settling on PC makers. He said [Microsoft] "is pinning the blame on the manufacturers for not having enough touch-based product".
PC makers on the other hand:
PC makers, though, are hitting back after Redmond’s finger-pointing – countering that if they’d followed Microsoft’s advice they’d have ended up building very expensive tablets and would have been saddled with the costs of a huge piles of unsold units. Those who did buy Windows 8 PCs ultimately bought the cheap laptops not high-end Ultrabooks or hybrids.
This is a silly discussion. I agree that not enough tablets were available at launch. On the other hand, the OEMs are correct: the market for high-end expensive hybrids is limited, and rightly so as they are not good value for most users.
What both sides seem to be ignoring is that Windows 8 was always going to be a hard sell. Microsoft made a conscious and deliberate decision to create a new tablet platform and bolt it on to desktop Windows in order to establish it. The added value for users who just want to run Office and other desktop apps is small, while the cost in terms of learning to find your way around a new Start screen is significant.
This could yet work out well for Microsoft. As the platform matures and better new-style apps appear, Windows 8 will become more attractive. Further, as users discover that Windows 8 is not really hard to use, the reasons not to upgrade will diminish. In theory, users will gradually be able to spend more time in the touch-friendly user interface rather than in the desktop, making pure tablet use of Windows 8 (no keyboard or mouse) more attractive.
The counter-argument is that Windows may never shake off its desktop inheritance and that the Metro-style platform will never be important.
Maybe Microsoft should have communicated "let’s have a low-key launch and build this slowly" rather than spending big on marketing in the hope that nobody would notice these issues.
It is true that there are big and long-standing problems with the way Windows machines are designed, built and marketed, problems that have caused Microsoft to create its own Surface devices (I am typing this on Surface RT) and to copy Apple by opening its own stores, selling "signature" PCs with third-party rubbish removed.
In addition, Microsoft made inexplicable mistakes with the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT, such as building a mail app that is barely competent – one app that almost everyone will try and which could have been used to show off the potential of the new platform. Check the reviews; there is even something odd about the few five-star ratings.
That does not mean that the subdued launch of Windows 8 is mainly Microsoft’s fault, or mainly the fault of its partners. The reasons are more obvious and more fundamental.