How satisfied are customers with Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system Relevant Products/Services? According to a new survey from the University of Michigan, not as satisfied as with Windows 7.

The 2013 survey, called the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), was conducted by Michigan's Ross School of Business and released Tuesday. It found Windows 8 scored 74, down a point from last year's survey and down four points from the company's record high in 2011 for Windows 7, when it achieved a 78. The Windows 7 score had been a bump up, following the flop known as Vista.

David VanAmburg, ACSI's Director, told news media that Windows 8 "did not give Microsoft a significant bump, as the release of Windows 7 did," although it didn't cause the kind of drop that Vista showed. The lowest score was a 69 in 2008, the second year that Vista was available. VanAmburg pointed out that Windows 8 performance next year will indicate if the satisfaction level has stabilized.

'Microsoft Messed Up'

PCs in general are going through a slump in sales, as smartphones and tablets boom. PC shipments have declined four quarters in a row, with a 14 percent drop in Q1 of this year.

Laura DiDio, an analyst with industry research firm Information Technology Intelligence Consulting, said that her research among businesses indicates satisfaction with the underlying functions of Windows 8, but not with its touchscreen emphasis.

She quoted one unnamed IT Relevant Products/Services administrator at a leading university who said that "Microsoft messed up the execution by forcing people into touchscreen." The tile-based interface is optimized for touchscreens, although users can switch to the classic UI.

Another factor in the satisfaction level is whether there had been some need, which is being filled, to switch from an existing OS. DiDio cited a survey conducted by her company last fall, in which she found that 60 percent of respondents had "no compelling business Relevant Products/Services reason" to move to Windows 8.

'Flipping Back and Forth'

Ross Rubin, principal analyst for Reticle Research, agreed that "a lot of consumers don't have a touch-enabled PC," or apps that take advantage of touch, resulting in some proportion of users "flipping back and forth between the two interfaces." In the coming version of 8 -- dubbed 8.1 or Blue -- Rubin said the "challenge for Microsoft is to minimize switching back and forth," and to provide more familiarity for users, such as returning the Start button.

The ACSI also took a look at other technologies, finding increasing satisfaction with Samsung Electronics' smartphones and Google's Motorola devices but a dip in satisfaction for Apple's iPhones. Although it declined 2.4 percent, the iPhone still remains on top with a score of 81. Samsung rose 7 percent to 76, and Motorola increased 5.5 percent, reaching 77.

Among wireless carriers, Verizon Wireless replaced Sprint Nextel as the carrier customers were most satisfied with, although it was close -- 73 to 71. Sprint had been in first place over the last two years.