Windows 8: Sales off to a healthy start

The numbers must be music to Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer’s ears – the firm has sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses in just a month.

Windows 8 was seen as a critical launch for Ballmer, coming as Microsoft revenue fell 22 per cent in the previous quarter, with PC sales taking a dive.

Some critics described the launch as “irrelevant,” saying the death knell had already sounded for Microsoft. Marc Benioff, the CEO of cloud computing company Salesforce, said: “You’re not going to hear about the Windows 8 upgrade cycle. I think it’s the end of Windows.”

And Computerworld cited a report from Forrester, saying the Windows 8 launch would be a rocky one, leading to an “ugly” 2013 for Microsoft.

So, it must come as a huge relief to Ballmer that Windows 8, designed largely to keep up with the move towards touchscreens, is at least outselling its predecessor.

According to news agency Reuters, sales of the Windows 8 operating system are being largely driven by upgrades rather than consumers buying the new software on new machines. The figures are, so far, looking pretty healthy for Microsoft though – while Microsoft sold 60 million Windows 7 licenses in two months, it has sold 40 million in the first month of Windows 8.

Windows 8 has been designed so, in addition to the traditional desktop, there’s also a new-style interface for use with touchscreens. The new Start Screen has been specifically designed with touch in mind, so you get tiles instead of menus, meaning it’s quicker to get to the program you want.

Speaking at the Credit Suisse 2012 Annual Technology Conference in Arizona, Microsoft’s Tami Reller announced: “The journey is just beginning, but I am pleased to announce today that we have sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses so far,” adding: “Windows 8 upgrade momentum is outpacing that of Windows 7.”

However, in terms of market share, Microsoft still has a way to go – with only around one per cent of the world’s 1.5 billion or so personal computers currently running on Windows 8. The price is also clearly a deciding factor when considering whether to upgrade or replace – with an upgrade to windows 8 costing £43, compared to £88 for a full software package, or £399 to buy Microsoft’s flagship Windows 8 tablet/laptop hybrid the Surface.

So far, the new operating system has met with mixed reviews. Techradar said “on the right hardware, it’s sleek, fast and fun,” with a better battery life, faster boot and huge security improvements. But the site also predicted the modern user interface would annoy some consumers.

However, responding to the positive sales figures on Microsoft’s blog, one user said: “Wow, that is fantastic news. To all the critics of change and progress, keep this in mind … every launch of Windows brings about some change in the UI that people initially resist. They quickly move past that fear and doubt once they use it, and they always wonder how they worked without it. Windows 8 is no different.”

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