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Microsoft is spending big-time bucks to get the word out about Windows 8 (reportedly to the tune of $1.5 billion). But are folks buying it?

A report out from Microsoft watcher Paul Thurrott seems to indicate things aren’t going that great, with Thurrott citing unnamed sources at the company who say that sales of Windows 8 PCs are below Microsoft projections.

And the report even includes mention of the dreaded “V” word: Vista. He writes that Windows 8 will likely do better than Vista, but points out a number of challenges facing the new OS:

The net effect of all this stuff, I think, contributes to a wait-and-see approach with Windows 8. And that is exactly the opposite of what Microsoft and even the broader industry should want at this time. In this way, the Windows 8 launch is much like that of Vista, where a nagging (and in that case, tech blogger-led) cabal of disappointed voices dominated the discussion at launch and torpedoed the product before it had a chance. Windows 8 is no Vista, in many ways. Until it is.

Of course, the report comes a few days after Microsoft announced that longtime Windows 8 boss Steven Sinofsky was leaving the company, something that Thurrot also cites, noting that the “timing couldn’t be worse.” He also calls Windows 8 confusing, noting that it is a “Frankenstein’s monster mix of old and new.”

The Windows 8 launch comes amid increasing pressure on Microsoft in the personal computer market. (Interestingly, a family member, and longtime Windows user, just reached out asking about Google’s Chromebook, one of the many competitors that Microsoft now has on the low end).

As we’ve noted in the past, Windows 8 is absolutely critical for Microsoft. It needs the operating system to do well, a challenge given that it marks a radical departure from previous versions. That transformative nature of the product could give some users cold feet, sticking with existing products or considering alternatives.

[Hat tip to All Things D]

Previously on GeekWireWindows 8 launch: Sinofsky defends ‘bold’ overhaul of Microsoft’s flagship product

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