One of the more interesting bits of information to come out about Windows 8 in the last few days is the reported sales numbers. A Microsoft exec recently commented that Windows 8 has now sold over 60 million licenses. It was also mentioned that the new OS seems to be on pace with Windows 7 sales.
This was clearly an overt attempt to work past some of the negative analyst estimates and perhaps even minimize the impact of the more pessimistic hardware sales outlooks. That means we have to take the information with a certain amount of caution, but it’s still good news for the progress of adoption.
Because these are licenses sold rather than computers sold, we’re including the purchases by OEMs intending to sell new PCs over the course of the next several months. That likely accounts for some fairly large portion of the sales being references. Given how unhappy many manufacturers have been about Windows 8, however, these might not account for quite as many sales as one might expect. It’s a hard point to judge.
On the other side of things, we can guess with a fair amount of certainty that the larger enterprise contracts are not included in these numbers. The recent announcement from the US Department of Defense, for example, was for a contract that seemingly includes the option to upgrade all systems rather than a set number of device activations. It would be hard to directly quantify that sort of arrangement.
The focus is still all on consumer upgrades and sales. Since devices have been slow to come to the market, however much this seems to be changing with recent developments, hitting these numbers while many are talking about a short-term downturn in hardware sales indicates a lot more interest than critics might want to believe. The big sale on upgrades will be ending soon, however, so we’ll have to watch what sort of effect this has on adoption rates moving forward.
Some questions about the future of Windows 8 development remain unanswered at this time. Many are wondering whether Microsoft has near future plans for a Surface smartphone or ultrabook. It’s also long last the time when we expected to see the first affordable 7” Windows RT devices begin to hit shelves, leaving us wondering if the Xbox tablet won’t be the first worth talking about.
For now, it’s important to note that without context we can’t read too much into any numbers either in favor of or against the success of Windows 8. It would be helpful to know the criteria that Microsoft is using for their accounting here, but that’s not likely to become immediately available. Still, we can at least be confident at this point that we haven’t run into another Windows Vista-like situation where initial negative impressions kill the release entirely.