Microsoft bet the farm on Windows 8. It doesn't matter whether you are talking about the Windows RT version that runs on their ARM based Surface tablets or the desktop version that runs on Intel processors (that can run your other Windows software). It has all boiled down to this for the Redmond company: Windows 8 must succeed in order for Microsoft to survive this decade of seismic shift to mobile operating systems.
The big problem with Windows 8 is that is is different than everything that came before it since Windows 95. When people see different, they often think, "more work", "harder to learn", or "have to give up what I'm used to". All of those thoughts are what behavioral scientists call "fear of the unknown". Windows 8 is different right out of the box so to even login or get started the user is forced to have to learn something new, and that isn't what most PC users want with their new operating system.
USA Today just released a survey showing that most PC owners aren't looking to aggressively switch to Windows 8. Matter of fact, many may make their next upgrade a Mac or an iPad -- 42% to be precise. This type of feedback must have Redmond pulling their collective hair out.
Going back to August 25, 1995, Microsoft's Windows 95 operating system update was a totally new way for PC users to interact with their computer. While it required relearning Windows, there were huge benefits in doing so. Windows 95 was vastly superior to Windows 3.0 and 3.1. Windows 95 worked much more like a Mac, and while most people liked how Macs worked, they couldn't afford a Mac or live with the incompatibility with software they already owned.
The Windows 8 launch was to duplicate the effect of the Windows 95 launch. Different OS? Yes. But vastly superior. Apparently Microsoft got the "different" part of the equation right, but they are struggling to convince people it is vastly superior. When people used Windows 95, they could immediately tell it was better than anything that came before it. It was remarkably easier to use than Windows 3.1 or DOS. Users who have tried Windows 8 don't get that same mojo from their dip in the Windows 8 water. PC users are asking many questions about Windows 8 surrounding one general theme: Why did Microsoft put their failed phone OS on their 23" monitor?...
A slow start to Windows 8 is a deathblow to the Redmond tech giant. This was Microsoft's last chance to make big inroads into the mobile market before Apple and Google totally blow through the mass adoption Tornado getting to the Early Majority and Late Majority phases of the product life cycle. Redmond was all in on Windows 8. The result: Epic fail.