Home opinion-and-analysis Fuzzy Logic Windows 8 sales saga: 40m licenses sold, 15m users

Windows 8 sales saga: 40m licenses sold, 15m users

Microsoft’s Windows Chief Financial Officer, Tami Reller, has announced at a technology conference that Microsoft has sold 40m licenses to OEMs and end-users in its first month on sale, with StatCounter saying 15m copies are in use.

A Credit Suisse 2012 anuual technology conference with those all-important analysts in attendance was the venue for Microsoft’s Windows CFO, Tami Reller, to announce Microsoft has sold 40 million licenses for its new Windows 8 operating system.

Well known Windows blogger Brandon LeBlanc wrote up the event at the Windows Blog, and shared Tami Reller’s announcement, stating also that “Windows 8 is outpacing Windows 7 in terms of upgrades”, while specifically quoting Ms Reller saying that: “The journey is just beginning, but I am pleased to announce today that we have sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses so far.

Reuters’ report on the conference quotes Statcounter saying that approximately 1 per cent of the world’s 1.5 billion computer users are now using Windows 8, which equates to 15 million users, although Statcounter’s own daily OS statistics (to 29 Nov) don’t yet show Windows 8 on the graph, obviously shoving it in with “Other”, which shows how far Windows 8 has to go before it truly reaches the heights of Windows 7, let alone Windows XP.

Windows 7 reportedly sold 80 million copies in the first 60 days, showing that, if current license sales continue, that figure will be outpaced by Windows 8 sales.

That said, many have been quick to point out that most of Microsoft’s 40m license sales has been to OEMs, who then resell these licenses with hardware to end-users, with Statcounter’s figures telling the true story.

There’s also those who say sales should have been even higher, especially with sales to end-user upgraders clearly encouraged by Microsoft’s cheapest ever upgrade pricing of $39.99 and an even lower $14.99 for those who purchased a Windows 7-powered computer from earlier this year until early next.  

Still, that means 15 million actual users, a figure that can only be growing day by day, and while there are reports of analyst Gene Munster noting that sales are brisk at one Apple Store which he and his team had under live analyst surveillance over 8 hours, with 11 iPads sold an hour, while a two hour period in front of a Microsoft store in the same shopping mall saw Microsoft sell a rather astounding zero Surfaces per hour in that time – a stark sales difference.

Of course, that immediately set questions flying – why not sit in front of the Microsoft store for 8 hours too, rather than two hours, as well as seeing people make the natural observation that with a mature ecosystem of hardware, accessories and total app supremacy, it’s no surprise that 4th-gen iPads, 6th-gen iPhones, 5th-gen iPod Touches and 1st-gen iPad minis are wildly popular.

After all, as was noted by others, Microsoft’s competition isn’t Mac OS X, it’s the iPad, with people able to happily buy an iPad for email, web, apps, content consumption, content creation, business, desktop publishing, office apps, gaming and so very much more – and who no longer need a computer to sync with an iPad if they don’t want one.

Microsoft’s main iPad competitor is Windows RT, an OS I didn’t see mentioned in the reports with any sales figures, with Microsoft’s efforts at encouraging developers to write Modern UI apps which run on both Windows RT and 8 platforms, it’s only a matter of time before apps hit the 100,000 mark (up from 20,000+ globally now) and go higher still.

That would help ease the advantage of x86 software for x86-powered tablets over ARM-powered Windows RT tablets.

Obviously, the former Metro and now “Modern UI” interface is in version 1.0 mode, up against 6 generations of iOS software. Howver, Microsoft is more icentivised than ever for rapid improvement and evolution for the iOS, which will happen alongside ever more powerful apps appearing – just as happened with iOS and the App Store, just three years later.

And on the subject of these apps, it’s no surprise to see Microsoft’s Windows Team blogger, Brandon LeBlanc note October’s launch of the Windows Store, stating that “there were more apps in the Windows Store at launch than any other app store at their launch and since then, the number of apps in the Windows Store has doubled.

Mr LeBlanc also said that “A number of apps in the Windows Store have crossed the $25,000 revenue mark and the developer keeps 80% of the revenue they make off downloads for the life of their app”.

The Windows 8 sales saga continues and concludes on page two, please read on!

Although this is obviously a far cry from the billions that Apple has paid out to its developers en masse, it’s still a good sign that several apps have crossed the threshold that then sees those developers earn 10% more from each app sale than they do on Apple platforms, even though far greater volumes of app sales are presumably still wildly happening as oft reported on iOS compared with the current level of Windows 8 sales.

The Windows blog posting ends by noting a stack of Windows 8/RT Modern UI apps are available, and while some of the apps listed below will likely only be available in the US Windows Store, lots of new apps are clearly on the way, and even if Microsoft is years and hundreds of thousands of touch UI apps behind Apple, as it is, Microsoft has doubled down and bet everything to finally get touch computing right – and to improve it as quickly as possible.

The apps listed amongst “a lot of great new apps” that “have been added to the Windows Store since launch” include “CBS, ABC News, ABC Family, Engadget, Flixster, OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), Vimeo and Top Gear.

Clearly, Windows 8 and RT sales still have a long, long way to go, with Microsoft even still to release its Surface Pro x86 Windows 8 Pro tablet, and what is expected to be a stack of brand new and even more amazing Windows 8 and RT tablet, notebook, ultrabook, all-in-one and other designs to come at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas early next January.

But with Microsoft planning to update Windows 8 and RT on a Apple and Google style timescale of at least yearly OS updates, this is, as noted online, yet another one of Microsoft’s long games, just as it was with the Xbox and Xbox 360 before becoming profitable and hugely popular and growing well beyond its gaming beginnings.

So, with 40m sales and 15m users, Windows 8 is here.

It’s Microsoft’s strongest challenge to iOS and Android yet, and while there’s always much improvement to come, and a few Win 7 features Microsoft removed from Win 8 that it really should think about putting back in any Windows 8.1, 8.2 or Windows 9 update (whatever the next version/s will be called), it’s still a pretty good start, and a warning to Apple and Google that the sleeping giant that was has re-awoken at long last, with Microsoft more than ever truly back in the game.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.