The PC industry has been struggling for the last couple years, but amidst the gloomy forecasts and weak financials there has been one constant hope: Windows 8. The new operating system was supposed to trigger a wave of refreshes and relieve pent up consumer and business demand. Microsoft updates its operating system every three or four years (although that may be changing), so the new, colorful, touch-centric interface was seen as the industry’s savior.
Initial sales figures have not been encouraging. Other research firms have blamed Windows 7 inventory issues for the sluggish adoption of Windows 8 and our data supports that assumption. According to our retail data, nearly 40% of all PCs on shelves were running Windows 7 on December 1. In other words, Windows 8 only had 60% shelf penetration more than one month after its launch. Not impressive.
But we can go deeper and take a look at which brands and retailers have done well with the transition. With everyone looking to Windows 8 to boost sales, who actually got the new products on shelves? Using September’s Windows 7 PC shelf share numbers as our benchmark and comparing to Windows 8 PC share last week, we can get a good idea of which brands were successful in getting their new PCs on shelves for the important month of November.
Not surprisingly, HP has the largest share of Windows 8 PC placements in the retail channel. The company did an excellent job of getting Windows 8-based notebooks and desktops on shelves for the launch of the new OS in October and successfully cleared out older Windows 7-based models in the following weeks.
Samsung once again showed off its ability to bring products to market quickly and currently has a 6.9% share of Windows 8 PCs on shelves, up from its 4.2% PC share in September.
Losers: Dell and Acer
Dell has been extremely slow to gain new Windows 8 placements, particularly in the notebook space. Acer has some impressive Windows 8 placements but has struggled to get older inventory off shelves. Over a month since the launch of Windows 8, over half of Acer PCs in stores are still running Windows 7.
Winners: Staples and Office Depot
Staples has done a great job clearing out older Windows 7 products. Office Depot, which typically has a stable (read: out-dated) assortment of PCs, refreshed nearly all of its Windows 7 PCs at once. Now, 86% of the office store’s PC lineup runs Windows 8.
Losers: OfficeMax and Sam’s Club
OfficeMax and Sam’s Club still have less than half of their assortment dedicated to newer Windows 8 models. OfficeMax notably offered multiple Windows 7-based PCs on Black Friday, showing just how hard it has been to clear out older units.
We can hardly blame Windows 8′s slow start solely on inventory issues (although they don’t help). Some shoppers may still want Windows 7 machines. The new OS may be too big of a change for casual shoppers. Some of the new Windows 8 PCs, notably convertible ultrabooks, are still too expensive. Consumers may only make one large tech purchase per year and that is increasingly likely to be an iPad or smartphone. Those reasons are valid, but getting these new devices on shelves for casual shoppers to play with while they’re doing their holiday shopping should be a priority for both manufacturers and retailers.