Windows 8 is off to a slow start

Analysts at the NPD Group say Microsoft’s flagship Windows 8 operating system is off to a “slow start.”

According to Stephen Baker, the consumer Windows PC and tablet market didn’t get the boost it desperately needed from the launch of Windows 8 in the US.

“Since October 26, Windows device sales have fallen 21 percent versus the same period last year,” Baker confirmed. “Notebooks, which have been weak throughout most of 2012, saw that trend continue as they fell 24 percent. Desktop sales have fared better this year, dropping just 9 percent.”

However, Baker did emphasize that it was likely far too early to place the blame on Windows 8 itself for the general weakness of the PC space, as the operating system has only been on the market for just four weeks.

“We still have the whole holiday selling season ahead of us, but clearly Windows 8 did not prove to be the impetus for a sales turnaround some had hoped for,” he said.

Indeed, since its launch, Windows 8 has captured just over half (58 percent) of Windows computing device unit sales, compared to the 83 percent Windows 7 accounted for four weeks after that launch. Then again, Windows 8 tablet sales have been almost non-existent, with unit sales representing less than 1 percent of all Windows 8 device sales to date.

“The bad Back-to-School period left a lot of inventory which had a real impact on the initial sell-through rates for Windows 8,” noted Baker. “The strong performance of Windows 8 notebooks with touchscreens, where Windows 8 truly shines, offers some reason for optimism. These products accounted for 6 percent of Windows 8 notebook sales at an average price of $867 – helping to re-establish a premium segment to the Windows consumer notebook market.”

Interestingly, the average street price of Windows-powered devices also jumped from an average of $433 to $477 in 2012.

“Windows 8 notebooks have seen a nearly $80 rise in selling prices versus the prior year, propelled by the aforementioned strong performance of touchscreen devices and a solid uptick in the pricing on mainstream notebooks…. Windows 8 desktop ASPs were also strong with selling prices up nearly 10 percent, driven by the same factors as notebook sales,” Baker added.