Windows 8 fell further behind the pace of Windows Vista's uptake last month, a metric company said today, even as usage share of the new operating system continued to slowly climb.
Statistics from Net Applications showed that Windows 8's January share was 2.5 percent of all Windows PCs, up from December's 1.9 percent. When what the analytics firm tagged as "touch" for Windows 8 and Windows RT were added, the January total rose slightly to 2.6 percent.
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Because Net Applications measures operating system usage share by tallying unique visitors to websites, the "touch" numbers reflected browsers -- overwhelmingly IE10 (Internet Explorer 10) -- run from the user interface once named "Metro" on Windows 8 and Windows RT.
Even so, Windows 8 share lagged behind the 3.3 percent share that Vista scored after its third full month of availability. In fact, last month's seven-tenths of a point gap between the two was more than double the difference of three-tenths of a point in December, indicating that Windows 8 is not only not matching Vista's pace, but failing further behind.
Windows 8's inability to match Vista's usage, first seen last month, is an ill omen for Microsoft's new operating system. Vista has been pegged a failure -- Microsoft itself has not bothered to mention the OS for years -- because of its lackluster adoption. Associations with that flop, rather than with the triumphs of Windows XP and Windows 7, increasingly paint Windows 8 as a failure thus far.
Another troubling sign for Windows 8 is that its gains month-by-month have slowed slightly since its release. In January, for example, Windows 8 grew by a smaller amount than it did in either November or December 2012.
On the brighter side, the operating system has increased not only month by month, but within January, week by week. During the week ending Jan. 26, for instance, Windows 8 recorded a usage share of 2.7 percent of all Windows systems, up from the previous weeks' 2.4 percent and 2.2 percent.
But Windows 8's prospects remain extremely dim when compared with Windows 7. By the end of Windows 7's third month of availability, the 2009 edition powered 8.2 percent of all Windows machines, or more than three times Windows 8's current share.
Microsoft has maintained that sales of Windows 8 licenses have matched those of Windows 7 at the same point in its release cycle. But Net Applications' numbers are at odds with that claim.
Some analysts have speculated that while Microsoft has sold approximately the same number of Windows 8 licenses as it did of Windows 7, the PCs associated with many of those licenses languish in OEM and retailer inventories, preventing them from being counted by Net Applications. Another possible explanation: Some who purchased a Windows 8 PC, with its Windows 8 license, have subsequently applied downgrade rights to run the older Windows 7.