With the release of software upgrades in the past, consumers were far more likely than today to reach into their bank accounts and spend on a new computer to go with the new operating system, The New York Times reported Monday.
A combination of factors has sneaked up on computer sales this time around, including some criticism of the Windows 8, a tight economy and the popularity of tablets and smartphones, which is stealing some of the thunder from personal computer sales.
"I think everybody would have hoped for a better start. The thing is, this market is not the same market that Windows 7 or Vista or even XP launched into," said industry analyst Stephen Baker at NPD.
"What you're seeing is not a retirement of PCs [personal computers], but a push-out in the replacement cycle. If people used to buy PCs every four years and are now buying them every five years, that could lower PC sales by 20 percent over time. That's substantial," said another industry analyst, A.M. Sacconaghi at Sanford C. Bernstein.
Microsoft spokesman Mark Martin declined to comment. Microsoft executives in the past have said Windows 8 sales are slow because it is such a departure from previous operating systems.
Reflecting the changing market, however, is Amazon's list of its most popular electronic products. Only five computers were in the top 100 this week with only one of those offering Windows 8 as an option and one running Windows 7, the Times said.