Microsoft Windows 8 makes lukewarm debut: sales tracker

Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:56pm EST
 
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By Bill Rigby

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Consumer sales of Windows-powered personal computers fell 21 percent overall last month, figures released by a leading retail research firm showed on Thursday, indicating a lackluster debut for Microsoft Corp's Windows 8 operating system.

Many in the industry said Windows 8 might revive slack PC sales, but a report by NPD Group, which tracks computer sales weekly using data supplied by retailers, dampened those hopes.

On the same day, Microsoft announced pricing for its latest device designed to break Apple Inc's stranglehold on the tablet and lightweight laptop market. It is offering the Surface tablet running the full version of Windows 8 from $899, pitching it somewhere between Apple's latest iPad and MacBook Air laptop.

Since the launch of Windows 8 on October 26, Windows laptop sales are down 24 percent, while desktop sales are down 9 percent compared with the same period last year, making an overall 21 percent dip, NPD Group said.

Usually, a Microsoft release boosts PC sales because many consumers hold off purchases for several months so they can obtain the latest software immediately.

If the NPD's sales trends are borne out over the rest of the holiday shopping season, it would be a huge disappointment for Microsoft and PC makers such as Dell Inc, HP and Lenovo.

"After just four weeks on the market, it's still early to place blame on Windows 8 for the ongoing weakness in the PC market," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD. "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."

NPD's data neither includes Microsoft's first Surface tablet, which is only available in its own stores, nor takes account of sales of PCs to businesses, which has recently been a much stronger market.   Continued...

 
A Microsoft Surface tablet PC is displayed on a stand during its launch event with Microsoft Windows 8 in New York October 25, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson