Why you can’t compare Windows 7 and Windows 8 adoption rates


There is a saying that I’m sure we’ve all heard before: “you’re comparing apples and oranges!” People like to break out this phrase whenever they catch someone trying to compare two things that are not comparable. Windows 8 and Windows 7 are like apples and oranges. They were made by the same company, and even share a name, but they are very different products that have arrived in very different situations. Analysts keep trying to compare adoption rates of these two products to see which one was more “successful,” and usually to claim that Windows 8 has failed. Not only is it too early to make that claim, but it’s based on a false comparison.

Adoption rates measure how much a new product is being used during its launch period. The problem with adoption rates is they don’t take into advantage the situation that existed when a product launched. Back when Windows 7 was released the previous version was Vista. Vista was one of Microsoft’s most complained about and despised products to date. It eventually was updated to be a much better product, but the damage had already been done. Vista was hated by a lot of users. Windows 7 adoption rates skyrocketed because people couldn’t wait to ditch Vista.

Now let’s look at the situation for the Windows 8 launch. Windows 7 was thought by many to be there best product yet. All the people that couldn’t wait to get away from Vista discovered that Windows 7 was actually really good. Still to this day people love Windows 7. If Windows XP has taught us anything it’s that Windows users will stick to something for as long as they can if they like it. For Windows 8 this isn’t a great situation to be released into. Most people who use Windows 7 don’t have any reason to stop. It doesn’t mean that Windows 8 is bad, it just means Windows 7 is that good.

As you can see it makes perfect sense why the adoption rates are so different. Of course people will adopt something new when the product they are currently using sucks. Of course people will be more hesitant to try something new when there is nothing wrong with what they currently use. This has been the battle Microsoft has had to fight with Windows 8. It’s not about convincing people that Windows 8 is good, it’s about convincing people that it’s worth switching away from Windows 7. Microsoft tried to do this by making the pricing much more affordable, and they tried it by giving incentives to new Windows 7 users.

You can say that Windows 8 has not been as successful as Windows 7, but you have to think about the different situations. Eventually Windows 8 will be the most used version of Windows, but with such a great previous version you can’t expect everyone to jump on it immediately. You can’t compare apples and oranges.

  • OK. But then is it fair to compare Windows 8 uptake rates with Vista? Because if it is, the stats show the uptake rate of Windows 8 is no better against the uptake rate of Vista than Windows 7. In fact, the relative uptake rates are about the same: in both cases Windows 8’s initial uptake rate has been about a third of the initial uptake rate of either Windows 7 or Vista.

  • WinSource

    That’s a much more fair comparison.

  • How about comparing the COST of the different versions… Even with it’s substantially low low price, windows 8 still didn’t get the same rate of adoption…
    Then too, both Windows 7 and Vista were “attractive”. They both looked good on the screen. Windows 8, in comparison, especially those hideous “live tiles” looks like it was designed by toddlers, using garsih colours and badly drawn icons that reminded me of the pictograph signs on the highway that allow the illiterate to drive. It’s frakking ugly.
    To most people, particularly when looking at it in a store, Windows 8 no longer has any attraction. I’d bet that most people don’t even play with it long enough to know there’s a desktop there. They just see ugly tiles, uglier background and move over to the displays with high-resolution photographic background screens…ie Ipads, Androids, Macs, and Windows 7 computers.
    Even if they get to the desktop, gone are the glassy aero effects and the 3d look… replaced by flat plain boxy frames. Again, ugly…

  • Holly Cline

    I actually recently switched from Windows 7 to 8. The live tiles and the background are customizable so it’s not “ugly” once you get it set up. True, the desktop and windows are not as “glossy” as 7, but it’s got a polished mod look that I would say is far from “toddler”. It’s not perfect, but I’m not sad I switched.

  • Well you’re just flat out wrong about Windows 8 being ugly. It has been regarded by many as a very well designed OS, just like Windows Phone. it is a beautifully modern design. The glossy icons of Windows 7 and Vista is a very dated and aging design. Just look across the web and you’ll see that many places are adopting the “Metro” style.

  • ” you are not the majority”

    Then why do you get 2.4 million hits when you google: “windows 8” downgrade


    5.6 million hits when you google: “windows 8” hate ?

  • There is a lot to dislike about it other than design. I’ve never heard of someone downgrading because of they thought it was ugly. That’s crazy.

  • what really is better?? what do u think guys?
    have u checked frinzee’s poll bout this?

  • crazycolaist

    your better off comparing it with IOS 1 or something else. while it might be a real OS its Microsoft’s first real shot and this type of game (app store the whole tablet thing etc etc)

    as you all know windows blue is coming out in winter so stop crying or moaning. and just let them do what they gotta do. cos all they can do is improve,


  • SijKo

    Windows 8 is another step in evolution. Operating systems take decades to mature. We’re now almost 20 years after the release of Windows NT 3.1. Windows is mature. And windows 8 is 3 more years of maturity than windows 7.

    The ‘old’ win32/desktop side of windows has been patched, optimized and improved (file explorer is just sweet) and anyone that has a look at the task-manager knows that.

    The “Windows Store”/Start screen side of it (RT) is somewhat confusing if you’re looking for familiarity. It can be strange to see you favorite website in IE10-RT and without touch it is not as intuitive and easy as the familiar desktop…. It is nice to have a new source of games etc. But for office and most home users RT is not the thing to look forward to.

    What to look forward to in Win8? Performance, stability, efficiency, and a nice clean look of the desktop. New features like File History. Improved features like the File Explorer and IE 10 (although that is available for Win7 too).

    Under the hood it’s still ‘Vista’ or ‘7’, just a more polished, enhanced and optimized. It is foolish to compare it to Vista or dismiss it as a failure… That would make windows 7 an even bigger failure…

    Think of 8 as 7+1 :)
    If you’re not convinced that 8 indeed is an improvement over 7 after you’ve ran it for at least a few weeks, sorry to hear that and yes, windows 7 can still be installed and will be supported for a while… But don’t just follow the opinion of bloggers, commenters and bloggers blindly… See it for yourself first.
    I’m ‘on 8’ since it RTM’ed and I haven’t looked back.

  • Charles Clarke

    Should we count all the XBox One pre-orders for Windows 8 license sales?