A Samsung executive this week likened Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system to Vista, the widely criticised OS put out by Microsoft several years ago in between its far more successful Windows XP and Windows 7 platforms.
Microsoft launched Windows 8 last October to great fanfare as the successor to Windows 7 but the new operating system's failure thus far to revitalise the moribund PC market has emboldened critics like Jun Dong-soo, director of Samsung's memory chip business. Jun told the Korea Times that "Windows 8 has failed to boost demand for Windows-based computers," according to a review of the Korean-language article by Forbes.
"The global PC industry is steadily shrinking despite the launch of Windows 8. I think the Windows 8 system is no better than the previous Windows Vista platform," Jun reportedly told South Korean media, according to tech site Mobile & Apps.
The Samsung executive was particularly concerned with the lack of an uptick in memory chip sales in spite of the release of a new Windows operating system, traditionally a major event that helps to boost sales of new PCs. Jun cited "market research" that "indicates global PC shipments are on the decline" and singled out disappointing sales of ultrabooks - the fast-booting, thin-and-light notebooks championed by Intel - as particularly worrisome.
It's worth mentioning that Samsung, which makes tablets running Windows 8 and its ARM-optimised variant Windows RT, is less invested in Microsoft's Windows ecosystem than companies like Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, and Dell. Samsung is the top seller of smartphones running Google's Android mobile operating system and has been a key Google partner in the development of Chromebooks running Google's Chrome OS.
Aside from the discouraging numbers provided by research firms like Gartner and IDC, signs that new PCs running Windows 8 are struggling in the market have been adding up in recent weeks. A report out of Taiwan suggested that Microsoft is planning to slash the price of Windows 8 licenses for computer manufacturers in April or May.
Yet Microsoft itself has reported brisk sales of Windows 8 licenses, leading Forbes contributor Tim Worstall to guess that a problem for computer and tablet manufacturers like Samsung is that far more consumers may be purchasing Windows 8 licenses for existing computers than buying new machines.
"This time around, with Windows 8, there is no such bloat," Worstall wrote, referring to resource-hogging software packed in with previous rollouts of Windows platforms. "You can actually run on the same specs as Windows 7. Indeed, many say that it runs better than the earlier OS on the same specification of rig. Thus there's been no mad rush to upgrade systems and install yet more RAM. Simply because Microsoft has, this time at least, written a fast and efficient OS."