Windows 8 StartThinking of upgrading to Windows 8? Read this first. It may save time, money and heartache.

The numbers don’t lie. Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system is a bigger flop than Windows Vista. And everyone knows Vista was a dog.

Things looked dire in January. They got worse in February. Windows has never looked this bad. If Windows was a horse Microsoft would be walking to the gun cupboard.

Hurting PC sales

Windows 8 launched at the end of October 2012. When a new version of Windows hits, PC sales often get a boost. That didn’t happen.

It more than didn’t happen. Some say Windows 8 harms PC sales. IDC expected a post-Windows 8 launch bump in PC sales. It now forecasts a downturn.

While the PC buyer response to Windows 8 is lacklustre from PC buyers, it also isn’t a hit with upgraders.

Microsoft’s cunning plan

Microsoft’s idea of a single user interface for smartphones, tablets and PCs makes sense. Yet it doesn’t work in practice. Users don’t like it and that’s what matters.

Windows Phone 8 is at least as good as Android and iOS on Nokia’s Lumia hardware and other smartphones. The market hasn’t jumped. Microsoft’s share of smartphone sales dropped after Windows Phone 8 appeared.

While tablets using Microsoft’s Windows RT are impressive, there’s little evidence of surging sales. Some brands, like Toshiba, shelved Windows tablet plans. Samsung retreated from key markets admitting a lack of interest in Windows tablets.

Windows doesn’t register when researchers ask customers which tablet brands they plan to buy.

My Windows 8 experience seems typical

The Pro version of the software sold online for NZ$50 on the launch day – it seemed a bargain.

At first I thought I’d get used to the clumsy dual user interface and learn to love Windows 8’s wacky ways. I don’t. As soon as I can spare the time I’m going back to Windows 7.

It says something terrible about Windows 8 that I’ll be more productive moving back to the older OS. Update: It turns out that was a dumb idea. See downgrading from Window 8 to 7 is no answer.

What’s sad about this is I like Windows Phone 8. Nokia’s Lumia 920 is one of the best smartphones on sale. The Windows tablets I’ve seen, particularly while on the NZ Tech Podcast, look great.

Microsoft failed

Whatever else happens, Windows 8 is not a success. Flop is not too strong a word.

Microsoft gets another chance later this year. The company promises a new version of Windows. Will the company admit defeat and fix the awful user interface then? Maybe it will fix Windows 8 with a service pack. There’s no question it needs fixing.

Sales may improve for Windows Phone 8. Microsoft deserves success for building a decent phone OS. It is still too early to call the company’s tablet strategy. Maybe corporate sales will kick in, maybe a lower price will fix things. But yes, I think we can say it out loud: Windows 8 is a flop.