Microsoft blasts PC makers: It's YOUR fault Windows 8 crash landed
Slab builders ignored Redmond, claims Reg source
Exclusive Microsoft blames PC makers for underwhelming Windows 8 sales over Christmas, The Register has learned. The software giant accused manufacturers of not building enough attractive Win 8-powered touchscreen tablets.
But the computer makers are fighting back: they claimed that if they’d followed Microsoft’s hardware requirements and ramped up production, they'd have ended up building a lot of high-end expensive slabs that consumers didn’t understand nor want.
The Reg has learned Microsoft provided clear and specific guidance on the hardware it wanted inside any machine running Windows 8 so as to show off and utilise the operating system's new capabilities, such as the touch-driven interface. Microsoft also gave its advice on the mix of high and low-end form-factors manufacturers should build, namely Ultrabooks, hybrids and simple laptops.
The Redmond giant had held a competition between competing computer makers, and the PCs it deemed the best were to be promoted under two labels: Hero PCs and Featured PCs. Microsoft wanted 10 Hero PCs to advertise globally and promised to pay retailers to display and promote 20 PCs on the Featured list.
However, the wheels came off that plan: Gartner said last week that during Q4 2012 Windows 8 didn’t make a “significant impact” on PC shipments and other analysts said sales of Windows 8 are lagging Windows 7.
Now Microsoft is planning to reboot its launch of Windows 8 next month. On Tuesday the company gave 9 February as the date for the US and Canada unveiling of the Intel-powered Surface Pro tablets. But sources tell us Microsoft is actually preparing for a February “relaunch” of Windows 8.
The Windows Pro Surface was planned to emerge in January, 90 days after Windows 8 and ARM-powered Windows RT Surface devices went on sale. That has clearly slipped.
Our well-placed source said that bad sales combined with PC makers “ignoring” Microsoft's advice has left Redmond executives fuming.
“Microsoft is very frustrated with major OEMs who didn't build nearly enough touch systems and are now struggling to find parts and ramp up. Microsoft says they provided very specific guidance on what to build,” our insider said.
Badge of honour: Vista revisited
When new versions of Windows are released, Microsoft usually gives minimum hardware specs for the operating system to PC makers as part of its logo programmes: machines that meet the requirements get an official Redmond badge to reassure buyers. It should be stressed that these specifications are always pitched as the minimum needed to get the OS running.
One recent example is the notorious "Windows Vista Premium Ready" and "Windows Vista Premium Capable" badges. That programme landed Microsoft with a lawsuit as litigants claimed Microsoft misled them on what “capable” meant. It emerged Microsoft had played fast and loose with its own rules to help Intel, classifying PCs as capable when they weren’t.
You can see the Vista specs here.
Windows 8, though, was a radical departure that Microsoft had to flaunt. It introduced touchscreen input; called for apps capable of running on ARM chipsets from Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and NVIDIA; and required PC makers install firmware capable of cryptographically authorising the boot up of the operating system.
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”.
Re: Windows 8 FAIL
Honestly I think it comes down to Microsoft attempting the 'we know best' route... again.
They did the same with the ribbon, they launch a new UI, force it on everyone. Some people adapted and enjoyed it, it attracted a few people from different crowds, but a fair portion of the existing market for office migrated to libreoffice or openoffice. They forgot that people have a choice and if they don't like something they can leave.
Enter windows 8, they push a new UI which is not suited to a desktop environment, or a laptop environment, or a business environment, but works well on tablets and phones. Some people have/will adapt. Some people may migrate over liking the new simplified interface. But a fair portion are going to say "NO" and begin looking elsewhere, macs and linux come to mind.
Yes you can re-enable the desktop mode as a main feature, but a lot of people don't want to have to go through several steps each time they use their computer just to get the environment the way they like. An OS is meant to 'just work' not 'just work, after you move the mouse here, click there, open run, go to regedit, change a 0 for a 1, reboot, go to the bottom left corner, show desktop mode"
And god forbid if they deem windows 8 a 'success' then they'll likely disable the desktop permanently (as they have done with the old taskbars vs the ribbon)
I used to use a lot of microsoft software, but every time they've forced a change on us I've chosen to migrate away to a free version with an interface I like, rather than one I tolerate. Right now the only reason I keep windows is for visual studio and games. And thanks to mono / WINE I may not even need it for that any more.
Some may like it, it's true. But Microsoft need to learn that they can't just tell people to like change and force it on them. They need to learn that not everybody likes change, not everybody wants a ribbon, or a touch interface, or to jump through hoops to do anything.
They can relaunch a turd as many times as they want, it's still not going to smell of roses.
Reminds me of the say "You can't polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter". Maybe that's what they are doing.
IT's what happens when you don't listen to your customers
I have to laugh. After all the negative reviews of Windows 8 and people saying consumers don't want it, they're now blaming the OEMs.
MSFT just don't get it.
Re: Windows 8 FAIL
I took delivery of a new windows machine six weeks ago. You have it spot on. It's not that the new UI was counter-intuitive to the point it was just difficult to use, but for work it was near impossible.
I can't imagine any corporation taking the hit on productivity by taking on this mess.
Form over substance
"As market conditions evolve, we will continue to work in tandem with PC makers on creating successful and compelling campaigns."
They should concentrate on creating a compelling product