Microsoft would have you believe that the launch of Windows 8 has been nothing short of a major success, revealing yesterday that over 40 million licenses have been sold since the OS went on sale last month. But new figures from NPD tell a slightly different tale, highlighting a sagging PC market and offering confirmation that consumers are showing some hesitance in adopting Windows 8. "The consumer Windows PC and tablet market didn’t get the boost it needed from the launch of Microsoft’s Windows 8 in the U.S.," NPD's release states flatly. Following the official launch, Windows hardware sales have fallen 21 percent compared to the same period last year. Notebooks bore the brunt of the decline, down 24 percent while desktops fell by 9 percent.

Consumers appear reluctant to buy new hardware

The situation is particularly worrisome for tablet makers, who have captured "less than 1 percent of all Windows 8 device sales to date," according to the NPD Group's data. Notably, Microsoft's flagship Surface tablet — which runs Windows RT — is not factored in, so it may very well be seeing stronger sales than Windows 8 slates from other manufacturers. An overflow of back-to-school inventory has also had a negative impact on Windows performance at retail.

Of course we're still in the very early stages of hardware specifically designed around Microsoft's latest OS, so many consumers may not see a compelling reason to upgrade their PC just yet. Even so, according to the research, Windows 7 was faring significantly better in the immediate weeks following its release. "Since its launch, Windows 8 has captured just over half (58 percent) of Windows computing device unit sales, compared to the 83 percent Windows 7 accounted for four weeks after that launch." Though NPD believes sales could pick up through the holidays, it concludes "Windows 8 did not prove to be the impetus for a sales turnaround some had hoped for.”