>Given the glacial uptake I can't help but think the major laptop makers are missing a trick in not offering a pre installed viable alternative to Windows 8
Well, the jury is out on the cause for this slow uptake of new laptops...
Many people don't like the look of Windows 8
Other folk are in no rush, and are so happy to wait to see how their friends get on with Win 8 over a longer period of time, or if Microsoft release a 'service pack' that makes it more to their liking. They might even be waiting to see how Chromebooks develop before recommending one to a family member.
At the the same time, many people already own a computer that serves their purposes perfectly well.
Some people are finding that for their purposes, a tablet is good enough.
Some other people are feeling skint.