Windows 8 Still Massively Unpopular: Nobody is Surprised

StatCounter, a company that compiles global statistics about technology, released the latest report on how many people are using which operating systems on their computers. Windows, Mac, and Linux all have their place. What was interesting (yet not surprising whatsoever), was the unpopularity of Windows 8. So few computers have Windows 8 installed, that Windows XP is on twice as many computers as Windows 8. Window XP is discontinued and no longer supported by Microsoft whatsoever. In addition, according to Net Applications, the number of people using Windows 7 has been increasing at a faster rate than the number of people using Windows 8. In other words, more people are switching to Windows 7 than to its successor. This startling conclusion has caused Microsoft to decide to bring back the Start Menu, which was removed in Windows 7 despite much controversy.

About 7.9% of all computers have Windows 8 installed, and 4.5% have Windows 8.1. Meanwhile, Windows XP is at 18.6%. Even Apple’s OSX has more users than Windows 8, which is unheard of for a Microsoft operating system. In addition to the raw numbers, it is also interesting to look at how market share has changed since last month. As mentioned, Windows 7 is increasing in market share slowly by surely. Windows 7 jumped up about 1.5 percentage points, and Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 combined have only gained 0.62 percentage points. That means twice as many people switched their operating systems to Windows 7 than did to Windows 8.

Usually people don’t change their operating systems, but since Windows XP is losing support and is discontinued, many are being forced to switch over. And according to the numbers, most people are opting to use Windows 7 as their new platform. Possibly as a result of its popularity, Microsoft has decided to bring back the Start Menu into their next Windows release. Removing the Start Menu from Windows 7 was one of the more controversial changes. The Start Menu continued to not exist when Windows 8 was released, although in Windows 8.1 a sort of hybrid “new Start Menu” was added. But with Windows 8’s decreasing popularity, it seems that was not enough.

Of course, there are probably many other reasons Windows 8 is unpopular, but Microsoft seems to be getting the hint. With any luck, the next revision of Windows will be well received by users and will gain enough popularity for people to switch over on their own will. The natural next step would be to allow Windows 8 “apps” to be used as normal desktop applications. In fact, this is something that was demonstrated as a proof of concept from Microsoft. Also, this article was written on a Mac.

About the Author

Tyler Romeo

Tyler is a staff writer for The Stute, and a fifth-year Computer Science major at Stevens. He is also involved in a number of other on-campus organizations, including the Student Government Association, the Honor Board, and the Anime Club.

  • Just wanna say something…. Microsoft, the answer is in your face….just make the start button, just do it!!!…

    • Just to make it clear..not just the start button…make the complete start menu..please!!

      • They actually announced a start menu at Build 2014, and it’s quite nice I might add. ^^

      • lodmot

        Microsoft announced a new start menu for Windows 8.1 a couple days ago at Build 2014. It also looks really nice. ^^

  • adam

    Umm… Win 8 and Win 8.1 are the same thing, just different versions. Their aggregate totals should be represented as one bar on the graph, not two distinct bars. So the top 3 OSes are all Microsoft’s. Gee, who would have thought.

  • and that’s one to grow on!

  • some guy

    Did you separate Windows 8 and 8.1, just to be able to say that Mac OS X has more users?

  • Mike Miller

    This article has several errors, the following statement is not true: “Removing the Start Menu from Windows 7 was one of the more controversial changes”. The Start Menu was not removed from Windows 7, it was removed from Windows 8! This is incorrectly stated in multiple places.

  • Mark

    The start menu and icon was removed with the release of windows 8 replaced by some aweful attempt to make the OS more tablet friendly and the word “start” was removed from the start menu icon at the release of Vista; nothing significant about the start menu changed over the course of Wondows 7.

  • MS_is_dead

    The problem with Windows 8 is NOT the lacking Start Menu — dozens of cracks like “Classic Shell” are freely available to restore the hidden menu. The problem is that there is no way to completely disable and delete one of the interfaces. Every task and every program requires the user to switch back and forth between two completely separate, unrelated, and disconnected interfaces multiple times. There is no easy way to do this, and obviously no sensible explanation for the need to step thru two disconnected interfaces.

    • Nick

      I’m on Windows 8, and I’m not constantly switching back and forth, most of my time on my desktop is spent in desktop mode, and I use the shortcuts in my task bar to open up the apps I need. On my Surface Pro, I live in the touch interface almost exclusively.

      I do with I had a touch screen desktop, because some operations just make more sense with a touch screen now that I’m used to having one on the surface.

      • Well, it’s because you know what you are doing.
        One of my friends that uses his computer very mildly, like check emails and skype with his friends and family and checks soccer scores once in a while bought a windows 8 laptop the other day.

        he installed Skype and he called me asking me why skype takes all the screen when he opens it. Every time he was opening skype he would force reboot his laptop to go back to the desktop when finished.

        I had to go and install the “desktop” version of skype on his laptop to fix that. So i went and installed a star8 star button and tried to make it look like windows classic again.

        So yeah, windows8 is not user friendly at all.

  • jim

    One size fits all has never worked in any situation. While touchscreens look cool in movies and TV and is great for surfing the net or watching cute kittens, there is some users that actually use the computer for
    productive uses.

    My youngest daughter creates 3D computer graphics and animation. She bought a more powerful PC to use in her work that came with Win 8 installed. It lasted a week, Win 8 was removed and Win 7 installed. She uses a graphics tablet in her work and did not appreciate the extra steps needed to get to her programs just to start them. Her, like myself in my CNC and machining work, a few icons placed on the desktop is all that’s needed. Any program needed is right there, ready to use without jumping through multiple hoops just to get to a program or utility.

    A GUI designed for tactile fingering may be just right for cell phones, tablets, and stubby fingered PC users but for many productive users, it’s not quite good enough….

    The key word is ‘users’,…… not programmers, not IT pros, not computer geeks who spend every waking hour hugging their latest, high speed ‘my computer is better than your computer’ types, not people who’s sole use is to watch the latest ‘jackass’ video stunt….Besides, not every productive computer is connected to the internet, many are sitting in the corner, chugging away at some in-house task using the appropriate program designed for that task.

    Just as a mechanic will purchase and ‘use’ the correct tool that can do the job at hand, many use a computer as a tool to accomplish a task, many times, that task is part of their livelihood and could care less about what OS is used, it is the programs that are used to aide or solvetheir problems…. The ‘my OS can beat up your OS’ attitude means nothing and is more in line with the childish claim that ‘my dad can beat up your dad….’

  • Indeed. Friends don’t let friends buy Windows 8. It’s that simple. I advise all of my clients, both business and consumer, to buy business class PCs with Windows 7 Pro x64. Not a hard sell at all since most are already quite aware of what a disaster Windows 8 has been. They’re actually relieved they’re getting solid advice that keeps them running as seamlessly as possible.

  • Nick

    Win 8.x has more share than OSX, does that mean OSX is also massively unpopular?

    • antoinefis

      yes MAC os X is not very popular

  • Being a MS user since 3.1, and now at 7, I thought I’d have a close look at 8. After playing around one display set at a store, I gave up in disgust. Impossible to be productive immediately if I use 8.

    • Nick

      It took a little getting used to, but I forced my self to use it, because it seemed the direction MS was going, now I prefer it, it makes sense now.

    • Þoddi

      I guess I don’t understand why it’s so hard to be productive for some people. I find all my apps the same whey I did in Windows 7, I press the windows key and start typing. I’m actually quicker to find my most used apps now because there’s room for much more pinned apps on the start screen then there was on the start menu.
      Now if you’re going to talk about a bad feeling about switching between two different UIs, if you share the same background on both the desktop and start screen, then it doesn’t really feel like ‘switching UIs’, it just feels like the start screen is overlaying over the desktop.

  • I will not buy a system that so blatantly said fu to me a business user.
    I am very happy with win 7 and will keep it as long as possible. I am a heavy business computer user and I do not want all the weird gooey slick “app” interfaces and just so many things I hate about Win 8. Why should I buy a system I have to constantly find work around to get things done I have been doing for years?
    I hate touch screens anyway, and yes I know that is just an option. But they mixed up their base with this totally.

  • Tim

    For me, there’s just no real benefit to using Windows 8.x. I don’t have a smartphone, tablet or any device that requires a touch UI or cloud-based services. I’m not interested in buying crap from the Windows Store. I don’t use apps or Facebook or any other social media outlet. On top of all that, Windows 8 doesn’t run the programs I use. And yes, I checked Microsoft’s compatability website. So why exactly would I buy this thing? Windows 7 does what I want, when I want without any problems. That’s golden.

  • Tim

    Microsoft has spent an astounding $1.8 billion to convince the public that it needs Windows 8. Why? Because a fancy ad campaign is Microsoft’s best bet at hiding what Windows 8 really is; a product that restricts your freedom, invades your privacy, and controls your data. How? Windows 8 reports to Microsoft what is installed on your computer. This gives you the ability to duplicate your desktop on another Windows 8 computer, but also creates a privacy risk. And, because Microsoft knows what is being installed on your computer they can remotely delete any application. If only used to remove bootleg copies that’s one thing. What if it’s used to force you to use a Microsoft app instead of a third-party app — or worse.

    Windows 8’s new secure boot was marketed as a way to protect you from malware. But there’s also the potential to prevent you from installing any other operating system except Windows 8 on your computer. Microsoft hasn’t acted on that…yet. But they sure make it difficult to replace Windows 8 if you don’t have downgrade rights.

    Lastly, you need to use a Microsoft ID to take advantage of newer features, including the Microsoft Store and live icons. Again, this conveniently allows you to access your desktop and personal content on any Windows 8.x computer. However, this also means that your data is being stored in Sky Drive or One Drive or whatever they’re calling it where anyone can access it if they break your password (your ID is your email address — information that is public). More disturbing to me, you no longer completely control what happens to your personal information or how it is used.

    Maybe all that has changed with the latest versions, but I doubt it. And even if it has, I don’t care. For my purposes, Windows 7 works perfectly and there’s no benefit to changing operating systems. I don’t need or want any of the services, products or apps Microsoft is desperately trying to sell. And apparently, there are plenty of folks out there that feel the same way.

  • Tim

    My experience with Windows 8 was terrible right from the get go.

    I bought a new gaming laptop that came pre-loaded with W8. I didn’t like the modern UI, but thought I could live with it if the performance was there. It wouldn’t play my games. None of them. Even using the MS compatibility wesite. So, no biggie, I decide to uninstall it and downgrade to W7. Uh, yeah, sorry, downgrade rights are only supported if you have Windows 8 Pro. Great. So I had to remove W8 (it didn’t go quietly), purchase and install a new copy of W7.

    I was not impressed.

  • Sloth Demon