Lenovo CMO: Windows 8 Not Yet Mainstream

Despite huge attention to Windows 8, one of its largest customers says the platform has not reached mass-market appeal.

Lenovo CMO: Windows 8 Not Yet Mainstream


On Thursday, Microsoft released its quarterly earnings report–and it was far from good news. Evident from the report was the struggle of its Surface RT tablet, which has failed to resonate with consumers. What’s worse, the PC market continues to slump, meaning more problems down the road for Windows 8, the company’s flagship operating system.

While Microsoft’s overhauled software is gradually growing in market share, it isn’t gaining steam fast enough. For one, Windows 8 adoption still pales in comparison to the adoption rates of Windows 7 and even Windows XP, Microsoft’s older operating systems that still remain immensely popular. To some, the issue is that Windows 8 simply hasn’t caught on with average consumers. “Where Windows 8 has not yet succeeded is achieving big, mass appeal,” says David Roman, chief marketing officer of Lenovo. “It’s difficult for people who are not very much into technology–or that are not early adopters–to see the appeal of Windows 8.”

Roman’s comments are significant because his company is the world’s top PC vendor. According to research firm IDC, Lenovo surpassed HP in the second quarter of 2013 in terms of worldwide PC shipments. With a 16.7% market share of the PC market, Lenovo’s success significantly depends on the continued adoption of Windows. But as IDC pointed out in its report, despite Lenovo gaining market share, PC shipments across as a whole are down a whopping 11.4%, indicating the industry is in decline.

“The numbers reflect a market that is still struggling with the transition to touch-based systems running Windows 8 as well as justifying ultrabook prices in the face of economic pressures and competition from tablets and other devices,” the report said.

According to Roman, there are “two extremes” when it comes to Windows 8 customers: the early adopters, among whom Windows 8 is gaining favor, and the mainstream consumers, with whom the software “is still in its growth phase.”

“Windows 8 is becoming more appealing to a more mainstream audience, but it has taken time,” Roman says.

What could accelerate adoption of the platform is more marketing of the hardware running Windows 8, rather than ads promoting the operating system itself. “As the product becomes more established, the hardware will take more advantage [of its features],” Roman says. “Laptops with touch, convertibles–it becomes easier to experience some of [Windows 8’s] better things and the more apps that are available.”


Toward that end, Lenovo this week introduced its advertising campaign to show off its Yoga 11S laptop, highlighting the device’s ability to fold from a laptop to a tablet-like form. And though the Yoga is a popular Windows 8-based product–Lenovo says it is the best-selling product on the Windows 8 platform–Microsoft need more adoption of its operating system before it becomes mainstream.

“There were a lot of expectations that [Windows 8] was going to be this dramatic thing,” Roman says. “[But] it didn’t happen as suddenly for the mainstream market.”

About the author

Austin Carr writes about design and technology for Fast Company magazine.