Is Windows 8 off to a slow start? It depends on which manufacturer you ask. Dell CEO Michael Dell has said that demand for Windows 8 from consumers and enterprise buyers is "quite high," whereas Fujitsu president Masami Yamamoto has said the exact opposite – Windows 8 demand is "weak" and the company will miss its internal targets for PC shipments as a direct result of the new platform's lackluster appeal thus far.
Take a look at Acer, however, and you're going to get two sides of the same story. Acer's North American president, Emmanuel Fromont, was quoted in The New York Times last week as saying that Windows 8 demand remains low – partially the result of consumers being hesitant to adopt the new touch-based user interface.
"There was not a huge spark in the market," Fromont told the Times. "It's a slow start, there's no question."
Ask Acer's top dog, however, and you'll get a bit more optimism. According to Acer president Jim Wong (top), in an interview with Digitimes, critics are jumping the gun a bit in suggesting that Windows 8 might be a flop.
"In the past, market observers would accuse Windows of lacking innovations. And Windows 8 with brand new features [has] still been greeted with pessimism," he said.
He added: "Some observers believe the new interface and touch-screen control will dramatically delay adoption by consumers. But companies must take risks when introducing innovations, and therefore it is still too early to say whether Windows 8 is a success or not."
Wong hasn't been all that thrilled about Microsoft jumping into the hardware space with its Surface tablets – effectively competing against the very OEMs that it is simultaneously trying to woo with the Windows 8 platform. While Acer will release Windows RT-based devices going forward, Wong said that the company plans to focus mainly on x86 architecture, "since the major demand from Windows users is still related to data management."
Windows 8's focus on the "touch" experience for laptops will ultimately allow touch-screen laptops to win out over standard laptops, Wong suggested. According to Acer's own research, users only need to spend 20 minutes or so poking at their laptop's screens before they're "hooked" into wanting to touch the screens of other devices with which they interact.
In other words, touch screens are compelling. However, it might take around two to three years for shipments of touch-friendly laptops to ultimately surpass those of their non-pokeable competitors.