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PC Users Unlikely to Embrace Windows 8

Research firm IDC expects to see few Windows 8 upgrades on desktops and laptops, and it even predicts that users of conventional PCs won't show much interest in Microsoft's upcoming operating system.

Microsoft is facing a tough sell with the new operating system, IDC said, because it's trying to span two worlds by offering one platform for tablets and conventional PCs.

"Windows 8 will be largely irrelevant to the users of traditional PCs," said IDC. "We expect effectively no upgrade activity from Windows 7 to Windows 8 in that form factor."

Explaining the dour forecast, IDC analyst Al Gillen said, "Customers will be asking, What value does Windows 8 bring to my desktops and laptops?' And the only real value I can see is it provides access to the Windows app store."

Microsoft first confirmed in August that Windows 8 will feature access to a store; the store will open when the Windows 8 beta ships.

Gillen said that application compatibility issues, and the recent flurry of enterprise adoptions of Windows 7, will also hamper Windows 8 acceptance on PCs.

Gartner analyst Michael Silver agrees that Windows 8 will be a nonstarter in most enterprises; he has been quoted several times as saying "migration fatigue" is the biggest culprit. "After all the work on Windows 7 deployment, organizations will think twice about deploying [Windows 8]," Silver said in September. "They're looking for a little respite."

Windows 7 has indeed been aggressively adopted. The most recent figures from Microsoft show that the company had sold 450 million Windows 7 licenses as of September 2011, up from 240 million in October 2010.

Gillen was more optimistic about Windows 8 on tablets, but he said adoption depends on Microsoft's ability to convince developers to create new apps or rework existing Windows software for 8's Metro interface.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

Read more about operating systems in Computerworld's Operating Systems Topic Center.

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