Windows 8 offers so little to desktop and laptop users that few will bother to upgrade for some time, analyst IDC has said in a research note that suggests Microsoft has another XP situation in the making.

In fact, the only thing that marks out the new OS is its Metro interface (which not everyone needs) and its app store (which almost no desktop users need unless it is given to them). Not coincidentally, the latter is getting a developer launch today in San Francisco.

"Windows 8 will be largely irrelevant to the users of traditional PCs, and we expect effectively no upgrade activity from Windows 7 to Windows 8 in that form factor," Al Gillen of IDC said in an interview.

"Customers will be asking 'What value does Windows 8 bring to my desktops and laptops?' and the only real benefit I can see is that it provides access to the Windows app store," he said.

Not everyone will agree with this but it’s not unprecedented - just look at the trouble Microsoft has had getting people to surrender XP for Vista and even Windows 7 as an illustration.

If that’s the model then Windows 8 will increase its share only slowly as people buy new computers. But which new computers? On tablets Microsoft has no track record and plenty compelling of rivals so that’s not going to attract a large base of new users very quickly.

But it could be the old users that present the biggest problems. They are mostly quite happy with their current apps and aren’t going to dump that to start downloading apps from the app store, no matter how good it is.

"Windows 2000 Pro required developers to upgrade their applications, but they didn't do it." So Microsoft was forced to release Windows XP, with better application compatibility. Then Vista came along, and ditto, it was short on application compatibility. Windows 7 improved [compatibility] because Microsoft had to."

This prediction points out what was predictable all along. Having lived in a world with four major releases of Windows, a fifth will now join them to confuse everyone even more.

Anyone for Windows 9?