Windows 8 laptops can't command Windows 7 prices

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Tepid enthusiasm for Windows 8 is bad news for Microsoft, but it's good news for laptop shoppers.

Notebooks with 15-inch displays and running Windows 8 with Intel Ivy Bridge processors have been spotted in the wild selling for as cheap as $299, according to the bargain hunter site DealNews.

That price, which includes 6GB of RAM and a 750GB hard drive, is $100 less than the best deals available during last year's Black Friday weekend.

Many of the Windows 7 laptops still available are priced higher than their Windows 8 equivalents, an examination of several online retailers reveals. At the 10-month mark in their lifecycle, Windows 7 laptops with Core i5 Sandy Bridge processors and 15-inch displays were selling for around $400, a 34 percent drop from their introductory price, DealNews reports. By comparison, the price of similarly configured Windows 8 systems have dropped a whopping 46 percent at their 10-month mark.

Many of the Windows 7 laptops still available are priced higher than their Windows 8 equivalents, a glance at several online retailers reveals.

Some shoppers are seeking older systems in order to avoid Windows 8, which sports a new user interface that those buyers don't want to be compelled to learn. "This hesitation to adopt—and adapt—to the touchscreen-happy UI of Windows 8 may also explain why we're seeing such steep discounts on Windows 8-equipped Ivy Bridge laptops," DealNews asserted.

Discounts on Windows RT and hybrid-style systems have also been spotted at Microsoft's online store, but those discounts aren't at the extreme levels spotted by DealNews.

Adding to the woes of Windows 8 is the news that a new version of the operating system, code name Windows Blue, will be arriving this summer in time for back-to-school buying sprees. That could ignite even further deals on Windows 8 systems.

With a possible hardware refresh in sight, it's not surprising to see deals appearing for Windows 8 systems, according to Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst with the Enderle Group in San Jose, Calif.

As for tales of Windows 7 hardware selling at a premium over newer Windows 8 systems, that's a simple case of supply and demand. "There's a massive shortage of Windows 7 hardware because the OEMs were asked to stop making it last year," Enderle explained to PCWorld.

"For the folks who want to continue the old interface, they're seeking hardware that's becoming more scarce," he said.

Meanwhile, he continued, there's no shortage of the newer hardware that was produced in large quantities.

Windows Blue isn't improving matters, either. "Whether Windows Blue will be an update or new release hasn't been clearly articulated by Microsoft and that confusion doesn't help matters," Enderle noted.

He predicted that the next generation of Windows 8 hardware will be a lot better than the first systems running the OS. The processors will be more efficient and the machines will be lighter and cheaper.

"Typically, the first hardware out with a new operating system feels rushed," he said. "The second and third waves tend to be more refined."

"Folks that really want Windows 8 probably should wait until the second half of the year when the new stuff comes out," he added.

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