Microsoft’s Woes Mount as HP Brings Windows 7 ‘Back by Popular Demand’

| Analysis

Crisis AheadMicrosoft's woes continue to mount as one of its most important customers—HP—is bringing back Windows 7. The move is one of the most prominent rejections of Microsoft's Windows 8 strategy to date, and shows just how badly the PC industry is faring.

The Verge noted HP's move, reporting that the company was emailing customers with the news that "Windows 7 is back," accompanied by promotional material on the HP website saying that Windows 7 is "back by popular demand." That demand is so popular, HP will give you up to $150 off the price of your PC if you'll only, please, choose Windows 7, giving proof to the old adage that companies discount things that are in high demand. Or something.

Here's a screenshot from HP's Home section:

Back by popular demand?

Back by popular demand—now here's $150 if you'll please take it

HP's rejection of Windows 8 is so profound that you can only find mention of it under customizable options. This isn't just a rejection of Windows 8—more on that below—it shows how troubled the entire PC paradigm is. Windows PC sales are falling, and faced with that reality, HP's solution is to try and turn the clock back to a four year old operating system that Microsoft has done its best to pretend is no longer relevant.

Which brings us to the crux of the problem, Microsoft. The company designed Windows 8 not to be a great desktop operating system, and not even to be a great touch-based operating system. Instead it was designed to get Microsoft's customers to do what Microsoft wanted them to do, which is to use the same operating system on the desktop and their tablets.

The result is an operating system that is good on neither the desktop or a touch tablet, and customers are responding by buying other things, namely iOS and Android devices.

Windows 9 will be Microsoft's next attempt at slapping lipstick on this particular pig, but it's too late. Microsoft is facing years of decline due to the lack of vision at the top, and HP's decision to promote Windows 7 at the expense of Windows 8 is proof of that.

I only hope that whoever replaces Steve Ballmer can bring some vision to the company and turn things around, but I won't hold my breath.

Crisis ahead image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Pretty pathetic!  If this works to boost sales, maybe HP and other PC makers can go fully retro and bring back XP!  wink


I’m wondering how they can do this. I mean they have to buy the W7 licenses from MS. I’m surprised that MS went along with it. Maybe HP threatened to go Linux or something else if MS didn’t cave.



Quick thoughts:

1) Note how much like a cross between a MBP (keyboard and screen) and a MBA (thin chassis) the HP laptop is in your screenshot.

2) Businesses and workplaces, not personal consumers, are the main engines of MS Windows sales; personal consumers are only boosters that appear to be in process of falling away - at least in affluent markets.

The PC industry, with MS as its leader, should concede both its need to follow Apple’s lead for any sustained relevance in the private consumer sphere, and enterprise’s demand for security and ‘good enough’ OS performance to protect enterprise sector marketshare.

My personal view is that the incoming CEO of MS should have a three-point platform coming in, that encompasses both of the points above, and additionally takes a complete reset on its positioning for products and services in the post-PC era (beginning with acknowledging that it exists), in which it a) aggressively positions its Office cash cow, at competitive prices, on the iPad specifically but ultraportables generally, and b) takes time to figure where the post-PC era is headed and attempt to intercept, ahead of the curve, with new products and services that others are not offering or lack the skill set to offer.

It’s a steep climb, and undoubtedly the PC industry, beginning with MS, will have to jettison some dead weight to make the climb, particularly at the speed in which they have to make it, but when faced with survival, at least in terms of modern relevance, tough choices have to be made and quickly. The company and its kin are capable of it. They just need an articulated dose of cold harsh truth.


Some interesting observations there wab95!  Especially your observation re the similarity of a MBA/MBP cross to HP’s featured aluminum laptop.  It made me wonder whether the jet black computer next door isn’t meant to evoke the new MacPro!

But it was this comment that really made me smile: “The company [MS] and its kin are capable of it.” 

I have to respectfully disagree, as the company’s “Kin” was killed off shortly after it launched - it isn’t capable of anything!  wink


Touché, MacFrogger, touche!


The next MS CEO will have to slash and burn when he comes in.  He needs to be totally ruthless if MS is to survive, starting with a total reset of this ill-conceived common platform approach for PCs and smartphones.  It’s like they sold a new car that had hidden pedals and reconfigured hand controls.  It’s just nuts!  Why replace your bestselling product with a new version that baffles your existing customers?  Microsoft has just been one blunder after another, each one worse than the previous.


Our (large company) shop is just now upgrading to Win 7 - I wonder what will happen to corporations heavily invested in the Windows franchise when there is no feasible operating system to be force upgraded to in the future?

Windows 7 forever??

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