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

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.

  • Chibinho
    Well Said. The Problem is mostly there, at the salesman. Because we, are a minority, who cares about specs, windows and technical expertise. But the majority are people that just want a computer that works, and for the best price. And they trust the Clerk. If he says that Windows 8 is the worst he ever saw, they will believe in him. So Wrong. The managers should Control their Clerks. Or Better, hire Clerks that know what is their Goal. To Sell.
  • ingtar33
    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.
  • seller417
    too much too fast is absolutely the problem
  • CyranD
    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.
  • vmem
    this is a prime example of salespeople failing to sell, as are other examples people have cited. Yes, windows 8 has it's shortcomings, but it has things that it did right too, which you have correctly pointed out in the article.
    At the end of the day, all a sales person needs to say is "sure, it's very different, but try it and you might like it. if not, never fear, your beloved desktop is only a few clicks away"
  • Devoteicon
    One of maaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnyyyy.
  • itsderekdude
    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.
  • billgatez
    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.
  • dormantreign
    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.
  • jerm1027
    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.