At last, some numbers are starting to emerge from Redmond, WA. To date the only sales figures Microsoft has released were about the 4 million upgrade licences sold within the first three days after Windows 8 became available. During her talk at the Credit Suisse Annual Tech Conference held on Tuesday, the Chief Marketing & Financial Officer for Windows – Tami Reller – stated that 40 million licences for Windows 8 had been sold in the past month. By way of comparison, Microsoft sold 60 million Windows 7 licences in the two months after the launch of that OS.

Does this mean that Windows 8 is on track to out perform its immediate predecessor? A wee bit of analysis is in order here. First and foremost, computer manufacturers are not like you and me. While we as individuals may purchase one or two upgrade licences for our machines, the manufacturers buy their licences in bulk; hundreds of thousands if not millions of copies of Windows x – along with crapware and adware – which are sprayed on to desktops, laptops and now tablets as they roll off the assembly lines and are pushed out the door.

The second item to note is that tablets are the hot thing at the moment and will be for some time to come. Manufacturers who have not been able to offer a Windows-based tablet before are now adding them to their lineups and to do that, a Windows 8 licence is required. It is obvious that the anticipated tablet stampede is driving the purported sales figures. The manufacturers are banking on the hope that tablets will be a big seller over the holiday season and thereafter.

You may have noted the use of the phrase “purported sales figures” in the paragraph above. Microsoft has been known to use creative accounting to come up with sales figures for new software and operating systems. If you add this, that and the other thing together, yes the numbers will come out around 17, 40 or 60 million. What Microsoft has yet to reveal is just what exactly this, that and the other thing are. After all, a sale is a sale.

The real test will come with how many of those 40 million licences are actually implemented. In other words, the OS is used for an extended period of time and the machine is not downgraded to Windows 7. Windows tablets have no downgrade options available but many could be transmogrified as Android devices.

It is natural for companies to juggle the numbers in order to look good to investors and potential buyers of their products. Microsoft is no exception. It will be some time, however before we get a complete picture of just what 40 million really means.


One Response to Windows 8: Spin, Spin, Spin

  • Howard says:

    It is worth noting that Microsoft is using the 40 million licence figure to entice app developers interested in creating applications for the new platform. There have been complaints in the trade press that much of the offerings in the Windows 8 App Store are of dubious quality and usefulness. Dr. Data owns an iPhone and he can attest to the fact that quite a bit of what’s for sale in Apple’s App Store is likewise.

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