Samsung is again distancing itself from Windows 8. Last weekend, the president of the company's memory chip business said "the Windows 8 system is no better than the previous Windows Vista platform."
Jun Dong-soo, director of Samsung's memory chip division, also told the Korea Times
that the global PC industry is "steadily shrinking despite the launch of Windows 8" and that Intel and Microsoft's thin Ultrabooks have "simply failed" because of the Windows platform.
In addition, Samsung has now confirmed reports in the German press that it will no longer sell its Windows RT tablet, called the Ativ Tab, in Germany. A German tech news site is also reporting that the manufacturer will halt the tablet's sale in other European countries, but Samsung has not yet issued that confirmation.
Pricing, Form Factors
Tablets are arguably the key to Microsoft's personal computer plans. The technology giant needs to gain a foothold in the soaring tablet category, which is dominated by Apple's iPad but has a slew of fast-rising Android devices as well. Windows 8's entire interface appears to have been driven by the need to accommodate tablets' touchscreen interface. And, not incidentally, Samsung is the world's second-largest maker of tablets.
But the pricing of the Windows tablet remains an issue, in part because of Microsoft's licensing fee. In Germany, the Samsung RT tablet retails for U.S. $780, compared with U.S. $430 for the iPad. Additionally, the RT model does not run Windows legacy apps directly, and the total inventory of RT-specific apps is still relatively small.
Some industry observers are also noting customer confusion about Windows choices. There's Windows RT tablets' inability to run Windows legacy apps, as well as a wide range of form factors -- and names for the form factors -- for Windows 8 Ultrabooks, convertibles, hybrids, touchscreen PCs, and non-touchscreen PCs.
The dissatisfaction with Windows 8 among PC manufacturers extends beyond Samsung. Acer President Jim Wong, for example, said in January that "Windows 8 itself is still not successful," and pointed to the fact that the PC market has not revived since the launch of the new platform.
'Where's the Leadership?'
Acer's total PC shipments dropped by more than a quarter in the fourth quarter compared with 2011, while Chromebooks, which use Google's cloud-based Chrome OS, were as much as 10 percent of its U.S. shipments at the end of last year. Meanwhile, other PC manufacturers, such as Hewlett-Packard, are similarly testing Chromebooks and releasing Android tablets. The executive vice president of HP's Personal Systems group also said some not-kind things about Windows RT late last year.
Laura DiDio, an analyst with industry research firm Information Technology Intelligence Consulting, described Samsung's and Acer's comments as "very self-serving." She said it "behooves Samsung in particular to say that 'the PC is dead, long live the tablet.'"
DiDio also pointed out that the Samsung executive's disparaging remarks comparing Windows 8 to the "previous Vista platform" was a deliberate attempt to associate Windows 8 with the much-criticized Vista, and not to compare it with the immediately previous Microsoft platform, Windows 7.
Samsung wants "to bury Microsoft," she added, "not just gain independence from them." But DiDio noted that "a lot of this, however, is legitimate," because Microsoft has "done a bad job of marketing Windows 8" and explaining its difference from RT. More important, she asked, "Where's the leadership, the counterpunch from Microsoft?"