At this point, it has become accepted that Windows 8 hasn't had a great opening act. Microsoft won't admit it publically, but the Redmond giant is cagey when it comes to reporting any numbers for its new operating system, and computer makers are all reporting less than stellar sales.
Acer is one such company. Declining PC sales have caused the Taiwanese computer maker to not only post annual losses for two years in a row, but also write off $120 million on the value of important brands like Gateway, Packard Bell, eMachines (which will be discontinued), and E-Ten. Total shipments were down by 28 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the previous year.
That's obviously not a sign of a healthy company. What's the problem? According to Acer President Jim Wong, it's as plain as day: Windows 8 just isn't that popular.
"Windows 8 itself is still not successful," he said to Bloomberg. "The whole market didn't come back to growth after the Windows 8 launch, that's a simple way to judge if it is successful or not."
Microsoft and Co. have struggled to sell customers on the new look and feel of Windows 8, a stark departure from the software maker's previous operating systems. Last week, reports indicated that Microsoft was pinning the blame on computer manufacturers who failed to create innovative touch-based devices for the platform. PC makers naturally pushed back.
Even grimmer is the fact that Acer has no plans to release a Windows RT tablet until it finishes assessing whether or not there's a market for one.
The one bright spot for Acer, though not good news for Microsoft, is that sales of its Google-based Chromebooks were up, comprising five to 10 percent of Acer's total sales.
"[Chrome's] value is that it's more secure," Wong said. "You saw that all the marketing and promotions were not as broad as Windows 8, so to reach this success is encouraging,"
Chromebooks have become especially popular with school institutions and students, thanks to their built-in security features and ease of use. Based on the Chrome browser, these computers essentially require an Internet connection to function at all. All functions must be performed through web-based software and all files saved via the Cloud, but the machines' ease of use has already won it many converts.