Windows 8: Does its 1-month report card read pass or fail?

Windows 8: Does its 1-month report card read pass or fail?
The operating system is just a hair over one month old, so now is the perfect time to take stock of the software’s public reception.

My, how time flies when you’re swiping through live tiles. Microsoft’s new-look Windows 8 launched exactly one month and one day ago, bringing the modern UI and mobile-style apps to the desktop masses on October 26th. So how has the system actually fared during its honeymoon period? Read on for the full synopsis of Windows 8 wins and losses.

Can you navigate Windows 8?

It can’t be all bad. Or can it?

Stephen Sinofsky: the gorilla no longer in the room

Many eyebrows were raised on November 12A when Microsoft announced that Stephen Sinofskythe president of the Windows division, a driving force behind Windows 8, and a long-time leader at Microsoftwas leaving his post, effective immediately. The odd timing and abrupt announcement led to a rash of speculation. Was Sinofsky fired or did he quit? Was it planned? Are Windows 8 sales that bad?

Neither Microsoft nor Sinofsky will talk about their divorce, but many analysts believe Sinofsky’s penchant for secretiveness and territorial mindset alienated external and internal partners alike, which proved troublesome in the new, cross-departmental world of Windows 8. It’s hard to believe Microsoft would dump Sinofsky over two weeks of (possibly) poor OS sales. Regardless of the reason behind the split, Sinofsky’s exitA was badly timed and led to a fresh wave of media focus on the negative aspects of Windows 8.

“I think it was unwise to fire the head of the unit during the launch cycle and during the critical 4th quarter,” says Rob Enderle, the president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group. “It was a dangerous distraction.”

Sinofsky’s departure may have been a dangerous distraction, but headlines alone don’t make or break an operating system. Indeed, sales figures define the bottom line, and Sinofksy has never been a household name. Nonetheless, the unceremonious exit of the Windows boss adds up to a net fail for Microsoft in the executive comings-and-goings department.

Windows Store: growing, but still unimpressive

As the Windows Store goes, so goes Windows 8. The fancy-schmancy modern UI and its glittering live tiles are all powered by new-style Windows 8 apps, and the only way to get these apps is through the Windows Store itself. Our pre-launch examination of Microsoft’s digital wares revealed a worrisome dearth of apps, along with a serious paucity of blockbuster apps, to boot.

One month in, the Windows Store is looking a bit better. Wes Miller, an independent Microsoft analyst at Directions on Microsoft and the curator of the WinAppUpdate website, recently announced that the Windows Store finally cracked the 20,000 app barrier, with new apps showing up at a clip of roughly 500 per day, post-launch. Only around 13,000 of these titles are available in the United States, however, and Microsoft still has a long way to go before it nears the 700,000-plus app selection of the entrenched Android and Apple markets. Still, the Windows Store is growing nicely.

The quality level of those apps is still a concern, however. The last post on Miller’s website is titled, “Windows Store: I’m holding out for a hero app,” in which he bemoans the lack of exclusive Windows 8 apps and says flat-out, “There arent a ton of stellar apps. It’s an observation that mirrors our own. Most of the available apps are ho-hum web wrappers, uninspired utilities or lackluster games.

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