There’s just under one month to go before Microsoft puts Windows 8 on sale, and as most already know, it’s a dramatic change over previous editions of the PC operating system.

Radical changes to such an established product will inevitably divide fans, but one would expect Microsoft to still win over its dedicated, hardcore early adopters without too much trouble. This may not be the case though, and what’s more, it may not even want to.

A survey taken by Forumswindows8.com, a large online community offering support for Windows 8 users, shows that out of 50,000 people, 53-percent rank Windows 7 as their favorite Windows OS, while just 25-percent choosing Windows 8. Windows XP followed closely, as it took 20-percent of the vote.

Windows 7’s success was always going to be a thorn in Windows 8’s side, and it’s going to be difficult to lure everyone away from the best-selling version of Windows yet.

So what’s wrong with Windows 8, according to the survey? Strangely, it’s price at the top of the list, with 35-percent saying it’s Windows 8’s biggest weakness. A downloaded Windows 8 upgrade has been given a promotional price of $39 until January 2013, which is reasonable, and no other price has been confirmed yet. Microsoft’s Surface tablets are also price-less, as are many other Windows 8 devices.

The list continues with system requirements, incompatibility and instability all hovering around the 20-percent mark. This is a little concerning, because three of the major complaints leveled at Vista were incompatible software, bugs and hardware not being powerful enough to support it.

Is there any good news? Yes, at least half of those surveyed rank Windows 8’s easy installation and quick startup and shutdown times as major benefits, but Microsoft’s new Metro interface only gains 22-percent approval.

Changing customer base

What’s not clear though is how many are using Windows 8 on a touchscreen, which is not only where Microsoft appear to think the software is at its best, but also the focus of a high percentage of third-party manufacturers hardware. Also, only 26-percent of the 50,000 say they’ve actually used Windows 8, well behind Windows 7 and XP, at 75-percent and 58-percent respectively.

Does Forumswindows8.com’s survey show the effect of Microsoft shifting focus away from the established Windows way of doing things, to the more consumer-friendly approach offered by iOS and Android? Possibly so, as when asked, 35-percent of the surveyed members would buy a Surface tablet, 33-percent an Android and only 26-percent an iPad.

So how much weight does this survey carry? Well, judging by many of the posts, these are knowledgeable and tech-savvy folk, and you get the distinct impression that the respondents represent some of the most dedicated and valued members of Microsoft’s current customer base; but the definition of Microsoft’s most valued customer could change with the introduction of Windows 8, almost as drastically as the software itself.