Most Windows users in the U.S. know about Windows 8 but few have immediate plans to upgrade to Microsoft's newest operating system. What's more, a third of Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP users who are ready to buy a new personal computer say they intend to switch to an Apple product.
Those are the findings of a broad survey of Windows PC users conducted by anti-virus firm Avast and released exclusively to USA TODAY.
The survey results underscore lukewarm response to Windows 8, which introduces a radical new PC user interface involving a touch-screen in addition to a keyboard and mouse. On Monday night, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer fired Steve Sinofsky, head of the Windows division, raising questions about design flaws or personality conflicts.
In years past, Windows software upgrades have coincided with improvements in computer processing speed, memory and graphics.
"It doesn't surprise me that people wouldn't be in a rush to buy a new PC just because it has a new operating system," says Gartner analyst Steve Kleynhans.
On Oct. 25, the day before Windows 8 went on sale, Avast polled 1.6 million users of its PC anti-virus product and got 350,000 responses, including 135,329 from U.S. Windows users. Some 65% of U.S. users replied from PCs running Windows 7, while 22% still used Windows XP and 8%, Windows Vista.
Six of 10 respondents were aware of Windows 8, indicating Microsoft did a good job of marketing the product in the months leading up to the Windows 8 launch, says Jonathan Penn, Avast's director of strategy. But only 9% of U.S. respondents said they would accelerate a decision to buy a new computer just to have Windows 8, while more than 70% said they planned to stick with what they have.
Reports of software applications designed for earlier versions of Windows not working well on Windows 8 haven't helped, says George Otte, CEO of repair service Geeks on Site.
Microsoft's large corporate customers are expected to be even slower than consumers in embracing Windows 8. Many are still deploying Windows 7 PCs, the 2009 upgrade from Vista. "Not having a 'Start' button will be a hurdle," says Karl Volkman, chief technology officer at Internet provider SRV Network.
Microsoft is not releasing sales figures for Windows 8. But a few days after the Windows 8 launch, Ballmer announced that the company sold 4 million Windows 8 upgrades and tens of millions of licenses to businesses.
Avast's poll of U.S. Windows users found 16% planned to purchase a new computer. While 68% indicated they would get a Windows 8 model, 30% planned to buy an Apple iPad, and 12%, an Apple Macintosh.
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