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Opinion: Here's One Reason Why Windows 8 Sales Are Slow

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 138 comments

Microsoft shouldn't have to deal with retail salesmen prejudice against Windows 8 at point-of-sale.

I think I know one of the reasons why Microsoft and partner ODMs are having a hard time pushing Windows 8 products: store clerks.

Here's why.

My wife and I were strolling through Walmart to retrieve a huge number of items listed on her seemingly unending scroll of must-haves. It's all in her head of course, so I have no idea when the end will arrive, or how long it will take. All I know is that when she eventually stops in the women's clothing department (and she will), I'm bailing out and heading to the electronics.

Eventually my plan of escape worked, and I darted into the electronics area and worked through the HDTVs, the console games (I'm currently hooked on the 3DS XL which is a very cool handheld), PC peripherals and whatnot. I stopped in the laptop isle to check out what HP, Dell and other ODMs are selling in America's largest retailer. This is where I discovered that Microsoft is essentially doomed.

Checking out the laptops were an older gentleman and his granddaughter. After talking to him for a bit, it sounded like her laptop was having driver issues and the repair tool in Windows 7 wasn't fixing the problem. He didn't know me and I didn't know him, so I merely told him what the likely solution would be and he in turn said he had a friend that fixes computers. Everyone does, it seems.

Despite his friend, the gentleman was in Walmart's laptop isle to buy his granddaughter a new model – he'll just take the other laptop once it's fixed. A Walmart salesman was also on standby next to the gentleman, offering a bit of non-technical information about what he perceived to be the best of the ODMs offering products. The little girl suddenly chimed in, saying that she wanted her desktop unchanged, and that she didn't want the blocky tiles of Windows 8, pointing to one of the models on display.

Now here's the Microsoft killer. "Yeah, Windows 8 is one of the worst versions I have ever seen," the Walmart salesman told the gentleman.

My jaw dropped. Seriously? You have a wall of Windows 8 gadgets and you're telling them it's the worst version ever? It's this type of dedication at the point-of-sale that could be hurting Windows 8 overall. Sure, there are a lot of current and potential customers who are annoyed with the whole redesign. It was too much and too quick in my opinion, but it's still a great, highly secure and highly stable platform.

When the gentleman finally decided on a laptop and the salesman went to retrieve the keys, I told him not to listen to the Walmart worker (putting it nicely), and relayed my experience with Windows 8. I also showed the granddaughter how to quickly switch to desktop mode. There's nothing to fear with the new design: you simply hit a tile and you're somewhat back to normal. Purchase and download the $5 Start8 app from Stardock, and your Start button and Start menu are back.

Of course, Walmart made a Windows 8 sale that day, so all was not lost. I can't say I helped with the sale, because we now live in a Windows 8 world – the grandfather was intent on buying a new laptop no matter what version of Windows it had. But I have to wonder how many sales have been lost because of ignorant store clerks turning people away with their opinions. You damn sure know car salesmen aren't going to steer you away from a car because they don't like the installed radio.

I know I've covered a lot of topics about Windows 8 market share and how some ODMs are "disappointed" and whatnot. But I've also tried to relay that Windows 8 is just a step above Windows 7 with an added overlay that bridges mobile with desktop. What I will never say is that it's the worst platform I have ever seen, because it's far, far from that. Windows 8 is misunderstood, I think, and that should change in the immediate future.

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  • 51 Hide
    itsderekdude , May 6, 2013 7:24 PM
    I've gotta disagree. I put Windows 8 on my parents computer, and within 3 weeks, I had to make a trip back down to thier house and reload thier computer with Windows 7. They gave it a try, and loathed it. The fact that you have to use a 3rd party apps to make it appeasable is the prime example of why it sucks.
    If Microsoft had allowed me to make a choice of what UI I wanted during installation, and leaving an option to go back and forth, I would have already bought 5 copies from them. But they didnt, so I didnt.
  • 50 Hide
    ingtar33 , May 6, 2013 7:12 PM
    I've been in many computer departments since the release of win8... and never once have i heard a sales person say that.

    what i have heard is countless versions of this conversation...

    Customer - "Do i have to get windows 8 with this?"
    Salesclerk - "yes"
    Customer - "Nevermind then"

    Seriously... it's in different variations such as "can i get this with windows 7? no? then nevermind" or "can i get this with windows? that's windows? nevermind" or "do you have any computers with windows 7 on them? no? nevermind"

    And the sales clerk sighs tiredly and walks away. Recently i asked a sales clerk if they hear the question as much as it seems i do, and she said "every day, almost every other person." Which I might add is about what i've heard just from casually strolling around looking at the new computer tech as i do every other week or so (i build and repair systems).

    Considering this seems to be the general situation at the point of sales, it wouldn't surprise me if some minimum wage employees at Walmart might be frustrated and trash talk it... since that's all he's hearing from the customers all day.
  • 30 Hide
    CyranD , May 6, 2013 7:18 PM
    The fact that the sale person made the comment after the girl said she doesn't like window 8 could indicate that he was just trying to be agreeable. What I mean is for entertainment purposes I have talked to a sale person at best buy and the best product to buy always seems to be the one I show interest in. I have managed to make a sale person say the exact opposite thing they original told me within 5min simply by the comments I made about the products and the questions I asked.
    I think there a possibly if someone came in to the store saying how much they liked windows 8 suddenly the sale person would be saying how great it is.
    My point is simply most sale people selling computers in major chain store are clueless in general so this not an issue related to a misunderstanding of windows 8.
Other Comments
  • 50 Hide
    ingtar33 , May 6, 2013 7:12 PM
    I've been in many computer departments since the release of win8... and never once have i heard a sales person say that.

    what i have heard is countless versions of this conversation...

    Customer - "Do i have to get windows 8 with this?"
    Salesclerk - "yes"
    Customer - "Nevermind then"

    Seriously... it's in different variations such as "can i get this with windows 7? no? then nevermind" or "can i get this with windows? that's windows? nevermind" or "do you have any computers with windows 7 on them? no? nevermind"

    And the sales clerk sighs tiredly and walks away. Recently i asked a sales clerk if they hear the question as much as it seems i do, and she said "every day, almost every other person." Which I might add is about what i've heard just from casually strolling around looking at the new computer tech as i do every other week or so (i build and repair systems).

    Considering this seems to be the general situation at the point of sales, it wouldn't surprise me if some minimum wage employees at Walmart might be frustrated and trash talk it... since that's all he's hearing from the customers all day.
  • 2 Hide
    seller417 , May 6, 2013 7:14 PM
    too much too fast is absolutely the problem
  • 27 Hide
    iknowhowtofixit , May 6, 2013 7:14 PM
    Kevin, the problem isn't the tiles or the sales people. The problem is that Metro introduces even more steps for geeks and admins to get to the settings within Windows. Instead of being called "Windows", this version should be called "Box", because you feel very closed in when navigating the Metro interface.
    If settings and advanced options were actually incorporated into the design of Metro, instead of having to go to desktop mode to get any "real" work done, I would be much more accepting. But, I guess in M$'s eyes, "Who needs options when you have pretty colorful tiles to grab your attention?"
  • 30 Hide
    CyranD , May 6, 2013 7:18 PM
    The fact that the sale person made the comment after the girl said she doesn't like window 8 could indicate that he was just trying to be agreeable. What I mean is for entertainment purposes I have talked to a sale person at best buy and the best product to buy always seems to be the one I show interest in. I have managed to make a sale person say the exact opposite thing they original told me within 5min simply by the comments I made about the products and the questions I asked.
    I think there a possibly if someone came in to the store saying how much they liked windows 8 suddenly the sale person would be saying how great it is.
    My point is simply most sale people selling computers in major chain store are clueless in general so this not an issue related to a misunderstanding of windows 8.
  • -1 Hide
    Devoteicon , May 6, 2013 7:24 PM
    One of maaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnyyyy.
  • 51 Hide
    itsderekdude , May 6, 2013 7:24 PM
    I've gotta disagree. I put Windows 8 on my parents computer, and within 3 weeks, I had to make a trip back down to thier house and reload thier computer with Windows 7. They gave it a try, and loathed it. The fact that you have to use a 3rd party apps to make it appeasable is the prime example of why it sucks.
    If Microsoft had allowed me to make a choice of what UI I wanted during installation, and leaving an option to go back and forth, I would have already bought 5 copies from them. But they didnt, so I didnt.
  • 9 Hide
    billgatez , May 6, 2013 7:29 PM
    Judging all salesmen based on one Walmart employee Who does not give two s**t's weather you buy the product or not because h is still going to get payed is ridiculous.
  • 14 Hide
    dormantreign , May 6, 2013 7:30 PM
    I work at wal-mart selling these things, and i agree with the associate windows 8 is crap and i'd have told them the same thing. I hate the interface and so does the other nan and pops that buy into it coming back mad at me because of it. Its a horrible design and should have been for tablets only. An as for adding a 5 dollar app to bring the start button magically back, try telling a 60 year old how to do that. Microsoft has shot themselves in the foot with 8.
  • 22 Hide
    jerm1027 , May 6, 2013 7:30 PM
    Are you fucking kidding me!?
    "Windows 8 sales are bad because of salesmen"
    Windows 8 received a lot of flack way before it went on sale due to the crappy interface, and the sales were poor out the gate. Microsoft hasn't done a anything to change it, and they still insist on shoving their blocky UI down our throats. Some people don't want their computers to resemble an over-glorified smartphone.
    Plain and simple, people don't want to fight their operating system to get it work - that's why it's getting bad sales. I don't care how many under-the-hood "improvements" there are; if the interface (you know, the way you interact with the machine?) is bad, then the experience will be bad.
    If you have well-informed opinions, please share them, but this is a pointless piece of crap that makes you seem waaay out of touch with anything tech-related. In fact, it makes you seem like a fan-boy by using a very minor issue as a scapegoat instead of admitting that the software is flawed.
  • 8 Hide
    xcaninox , May 6, 2013 7:31 PM
    The salesman is right, he is telling the truth and i am trully glad he said that. Windows 8 is a piece of crap, and congratulations to this guy, he deserves to be promoted. And i'm not even kidding.
    to finish, i'm gonna bump alchemy69's question, are you getting paid to write this shit? cuz seriously you don't even need to be hard-core to dislike Windows8, even the littlegirl didn't like it imagine a hardcore like me, i would broke my mouse in 30 seconds and the screen in 60.
  • 11 Hide
    ingtar33 , May 6, 2013 7:33 PM
    Quote:
    If you have well-informed opinions, please share them, but this is a pointless piece of crap that makes you seem waaay out of touch with anything tech-related. In fact, it makes you seem like a fan-boy by using a very minor issue as a scapegoat instead of admitting that the software is flawed.


    this poster's cursing aside he makes a valid point. It did read like a fanboy's defense of the indefensable.
  • 5 Hide
    bluestar2k11 , May 6, 2013 7:33 PM
    "There's nothing to fear with the new design:"
    Maybe nothing to fear, but it also has quite a pointless system to go with the fearlessness.
    You can pay 5$ to convert it to a windows 7 look, but why should the customer pay a penny to get a look they want? Assuming the average user can find what they're looking for to do in that jumbled mess of blocks. It's like trying to build a lego base without the instructions to them.
    Just because 8 is the new thing doesn't mean it's a useful thing. A lot of people touting 8 as a good OS forget the one little point: what is the point of this OS? It's new, with colourful blocks? Oh it goes 5% faster? Yay? 5% faster is maybe 3 quarters of a second, or 1, maybe 2 FPS if your lucky, only hardcore techies and gamers will care about that, it may do better on more powerful systems, but the average user doesn't have a more powerful system, and the colourful blocks is just absurd for the average user to learn and try and get around.
    Just because it's not the nightmare most make it out to be, which it sure looks like it is, it gives little reason for anyone to care about the pretty blocks on the screen, let alone understand them, because to them, it does look like a nightmare, and nightmares lead to headaches, and returning the item for your money back, and finding one that doesn't give headaches, which there's plenty of that online. This OS version is also impossible for any disabled user of blind and low vision software.
    Microsoft should have hired someone with a brain, kept their little blocks on their little phones and tablets that nobody is buying either, and put a desktop screen like 7 uses in for PC users, if MS is really die hard to have metro in there, should make it option in the control panel under display, and users can toggle on IF, and only IF, they wish to do so.
    Sometimes being too innovative is as detrimental as being stagnant.
    Windows 7 did everything right. Windows 8 wishes it did. Maybe Windows 9 will accomplish what 8 didn't, as everyone says, that seems to be the cycle for MS.
  • 2 Hide
    godftw , May 6, 2013 7:34 PM
    probably has nothing to do with it, i'd imagine it has more to do with microsofts own advertising. instead of selling the OS as touchpad geared they should have sold that as a clutch feature of a more optimized broader OS?
  • 4 Hide
    xcaninox , May 6, 2013 7:34 PM
    The salesman is right, he is telling the truth and i am trully glad he said that. Windows 8 is a piece of crap, and congratulations to this guy, he deserves to be promoted. And i'm not even kidding.
    to finish, i'm gonna bump alchemy69's question, are you getting paid to write this shit? cuz seriously you don't even need to be hard-core to dislike Windows8, even the littlegirl didn't like it imagine a hardcore like me, i would broke my mouse in 30 seconds and the screen in 60.
  • 7 Hide
    Fulgurant , May 6, 2013 7:47 PM
    Quote:
    Judging all salesmen based on one Walmart employee Who does not give two s**t's weather you buy the product or not because h is still going to get payed is ridiculous.

    This Bill Gatez guy might be on to something. :) 

    So let me get this straight, Mr. Parrish: instead of blaming the product and/or the slowing PC market for Windows 8's poor sales' figures, you argue that salespeople across the world have some sort of baseless bias against the product, which they then impart upon the consumer, and thereby hurt their own business?

    And this theory arises from a singular anecdote about a non-commissioned, low-wage salesman at Walmart?

    I mean no disrespect, man -- and frankly I don't know or care enough about Windows 8 to have a dog in this hunt -- but sheesh.
  • 10 Hide
    masterjaw , May 6, 2013 7:49 PM
    I think the salesman did the customers a great deal of service by telling the truth about the product.
  • 9 Hide
    vvildcard , May 6, 2013 7:57 PM
    Golly... how dare that saleman take the honest route and give his honest assessment of a product his store is selling. He clearly didn't go to salesman school where you learn to be as sleazy as possible and sell, sell, sell--no matter the cost or how big the pile of garbage is.
    /sarcasm
    I'm proud of the clerk for not trying to sell something he doesn't believe in.
    I'm sorry that the poor guy didn't have any viable alternatives to point his customers towards.
  • 5 Hide
    Unolocogringo , May 6, 2013 8:06 PM
    Windows 8 sux period as a UI.
    And yes I have tried it.
    Maybe for a phone or it would be ok.
    Trying to find all of the advanced setting is a nightmare.
    Will not let me run my monitor at its native resolution, tells me it is not supported.???
    At least win7 let me specify a custom resolution to get it to work. Viewsonic VX922
    Having to hover my mouse in the corner then type the name of the program I want to start. Then have to search for it because it is listed under the company name then the program name.
    Then trying to figure out how to teach my wife to use it???? When rearranging the desktop Icons throws her off.
    No thanks.
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