Windows 7 still being sold on up to 93% of British PCs

Windows 8

PC Pro Exclusive: British PC buyers rejecting Windows 8, according to PC makers

The vast majority of British-assembled PCs are being sold with Windows 7, not Windows 8, according to several system builders contacted by PC Pro.

One company told PC Pro it was still selling 93% of its machines with Windows 7 installed.

Paul Redford, chairman of Manchester-based Computer Planet, has sold more than 500 systems in January, with only 20% of them running Windows 8. It’s a far cry from the sales figures he expected after the release of the touch-friendly OS.

"When Windows 8 was first released, as per Microsoft’s requests, we sold our systems with Windows 8," said Redford, who thought it would "soon become the standard".

His customers quickly began to specify systems with Windows 7, and said Windows 8 customers "took delivery and wanted to change back to Windows 7" – a process Redford described as a "nightmare".

Redford changed the default installation from Windows 8 to Windows 7 and now offers both systems on all of his machines. Redford is also "considering offering an open source Start menu [for Windows 8] with an option to disable the Start screen" as a free option for his customers.

Further concerns

Redford's Computer Planet isn't the only British firm struggling with the launch of Windows 8. One company told us that of the 1,459 machines it's sold so far in 2013, only 7% have left the factory with Windows 8 installed. A spokesman said that "Windows 7 fulfils the requirements" of its customers, and that driver issues and the unfamiliarity of the new OS was putting people off.

Another system builder said that only 26% of systems sold since the release of Windows 8 have used the new OS, and a spokesman delivered a damning assessment of the software. "Customers struggle to find their way around," he said. "I've had a few people ask why Microsoft didn't include a tutorial. Some have problems with driver and peripheral compatibility, and others find that simple things no longer work because Microsoft has changed something ‘under the hood’."

The spokesman also told us he’s had "positive feedback about the general look of the desktop UI", but added "customers want these basic improvements in a Windows 7-style system. We know of people who have returned to Windows 7 – I don’t remember this with people upgrading from Windows XP."

Three other companies told us that Windows 7 was still being included with the majority of their machines, with up to 80% of systems still shipping with the older OS installed.

"Sales in 2013 are 65% in favour of Windows 7," said one, explaining that "initial reactions after launch were negative thanks to media reviews influencing consumers".

Two firms also spoke about a lack of support from Microsoft. "A 'Windows 7' mode would be hugely beneficial," said one. "But it's [Microsoft's] way or the highway."

Another said: "[Microsoft] has blamed system builders – but it's out of touch, and doesn't understand that our customers are savvy" with regards to the new OS.

Positive future?

Peter George, sales director of Wired2Fire, says that PC sales at his firm are split evenly between the two operating systems, although he puts that down to "including [Start menu tool] Classic Shell because the interface has been badly received by desktop users".

George hasn't seen a drop in sales because of Windows 8, and he reckons that customers simply need to get used to the OS. "Every OS launch we've been involved in has been received negatively, but that's the nature of something new. I believe the lion's share of customers are happy with Windows 8 once they've become used to the differences."

Another PC builder shared Wired2Fire’s optimism, telling us that "when customers take the time to use Windows 8 they love it, and wouldn't have anything else". However, the source added that "if Microsoft included a guide or walkthrough, customers would learn how to use Windows 8 to its maximum potential."

A Microsoft spokesman said: "Windows 8 has sold 60 million licences to date, and this represents the cumulative sales of Windows 8 including upgrades and sales to OEMs for new devices."

The spokesman added that Windows 8 is following "a similar sales trajectory" to Windows 7.

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