Why did Windows 8 fail?

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While most of us at one time or another have used Windows, many of us don’t remember (or don’t like to remember) using Windows 8. exploitation that was a big step forward for Microsoft failed to get traction?


While there are many reasons why Windows 8 fell flat, one stands out: users couldn’t adapt to the new interface.

Let’s see what made Windows 8 a go-to product for many users and why it ultimately failed.


What is Windows 8?

Released in 2012, Windows 8 was Microsoft’s sequel to Windows 7. Windows 8 marked a departure from the traditional Windows user interface by emphasizing touch-based interface elements like a Start screen.

Essentially, Windows 8 was meant to be the next evolution of Windows, one that would transform the operating system from a desktop affair into one that would also be at home on a tablet.

But, as we now know, Windows 8 fell flat.

Why did Windows 8 fail?

The failure of Windows 8 was the result of a fusion of design and usability issues. From the poorly designed user interface to the unwarranted removal of basic features like the Start button, Microsoft dropped the ball with its 2012 operating system.

The Start menu is one of the basic features of Windows. Every version of Windows from Windows 95 has a Start menu except Windows 8.

With Windows 8, Microsoft removed the Start menu and replaced it with a touch-enabled Start screen. As you’d expect, removing the Start menu didn’t sit well with users.

To begin with, users knew how to use the Start menu. Removing the feature and replacing it with something that required significant relearning effort on the part of the user annoyed many customers, especially Microsoft’s enterprise customers.

Additionally, there was also no Start button on Windows 8, which resulted in a confusing UI design.

2. Start screen has replaced the standard Windows desktop

When users first started a Windows 8 PC, they were greeted by the new Start screen and not the desktop like every other Windows version before or since. This confused many users accustomed to a desktop with application icons, a taskbar, and a Start button.

Additionally, the Windows 8 Start screen had a Live Tiles-dominated user interface. Live Tiles were application shortcuts that were implemented in Windows 8 to make the desktop operating system more user-friendly.

Live Tiles were an ingenious concept that replaced static app icons with dynamic rectangular shortcuts that could display real-time information such as weather and notifications. Unfortunately, Live Tiles was never popular and the developers didn’t support the feature much.

As a sign of how much users hated the Start Screen, Microsoft completely removed the Start Screen with Windows 10. Similarly, Live Tiles were also moved away in Windows 11.

3. Lots of sudden changes

One of the biggest issues with Windows 8 is the abrupt and sudden changes that Microsoft has implemented in the operating system. For example, Windows 8’s Metro UI didn’t resonate with everyone.

Additionally, the removal of the Start menu without warning, the removal of the Start button, and the introduction of a new UI design language, among others, were all drastic changes that caught users off guard.

As a result, few people were upgraded. According to a report by Net MarketShare in 2018, Windows 8 and 8.1 had a combined install base of 7% even less than Windows 7 which, at the time, had more than two generations.

In short, due to the sudden changes in user interface and functionality, Windows 8 required a significant investment of time and money to educate users and businesses about the new operating system. The bet did not pay off and Windows 8 never came close to repeating the success of Windows 7.

4. An inconsistent mix of old and new UI elements

Retaining Windows legacy elements in an effort to maintain compatibility and usability has long been a struggle for Microsoft. For example, years after the introduction of Edge, Internet Explorer was still hanging around Windows until 2022.

Even Windows 11, Microsoft’s next-generation operating system designed for a modern audience, still contains elements of the 90s.

The problem of retaining legacy parts of Windows was evident in Windows 8. The operating system featured a curious and often unpleasant mix of old and new user interface elements. For example, Microsoft introduced a new, modern Settings app in Windows 8, but the old Control Panel with the old UI still existed.

Although the situation has improved a lot with Windows 10 and now with Windows 11, Microsoft still has a lot of work to do if the company is to fully leave the legacy elements behind.

5. No clear vision and failed execution

Microsoft designed Windows 8 to be usable on both traditional desktop PCs and increasingly popular mobile computing devices, such as tablets and two-in-one devices. But Windows 8 failed in both market segments.

For starters, although touch-friendliness was improved over previous versions of Windows, it was far from a touch-enabled operating system. For example, due to the overly flat nature of the icons and typography, it was difficult to identify clickable targets. So many users have often found it difficult to navigate/search for specific features.

Essentially, Microsoft went too far in the tablet market with a confusing operating system and ended up disenfranchising desktop and tablet users.

Windows 8 gave way to Windows 10, a much better operating system

In 2015, Microsoft released Windows 10 without the unnecessary UI additions of Windows 8. The Start menu, along with a traditional desktop, made a comeback and has remained to this day.

That said, Microsoft hasn’t given up on all of its ideas about Windows 8.

For example, the Windows 10 Start menu is a combination of a traditional menu design with the dynamic tiles of Windows 8. It not only brought back the much-loved user interface, but also got even more useful features.

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