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11/29/2012
08:29 AM
Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
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Microsoft's Windows 8 Numbers Meaningless

Microsoft says it has sold more than 40 million Windows 8 licenses, but the information is worthless in absence of key data the company won't divulge.

Microsoft this week tried to mute reports that Windows 8 is off to a slow start, disclosing that it has sold about 40 million licenses for the OS since launch. Microsoft says that's on par with the debut of the highly successful Windows 7. But without additional context, which Redmond refuses to provide, the numbers are meaningless.

The most important fact that can't be gleaned from Microsoft's "disclosure" is the extent to which Windows 8, available to consumers since Oct. 26 and to businesses since mid-August, is driving new hardware sales. Microsoft may have sold millions of Windows 8 licenses to PC makers, but if their touch-tablets, convertibles and all-in-ones are languishing on store shelves or in warehouses, that doesn't bode well for the operating system's future.

We don't know because Microsoft isn't saying. We don't know how many of the 40 million licenses come from low-cost upgrades, from volume licensing sales that kick in automatically, or from direct sales to consumers. And we don't know how many of the 40 million licenses are sitting on systems that have yet to find a buyer.

If upgrades represent the vast majority of those licenses, that's something Microsoft could be pleased with, as it puts Windows 8 onto the desktops of millions of users. But at a cost between $15 and $40, depending on when the PC was purchased, upgrading to Windows 8 is a pretty low-risk proposition for most users. We don't know whether upgraders liked the OS, whether they kept using it, or if they later reverted to Windows 7 -- and that's a metric I'd like to see.

So why won't Microsoft provide a breakdown? What is it hiding? Its silence speaks volumes or, perhaps more accurately, low volumes.

I can clear up what has been one source of confusion about the 40 million. Reliable sources tell me it does not include copies of Windows 8 installed on Surface tablets, so at least Microsoft is not counting licenses that it, in effect, sold to itself.

It's worth noting that Microsoft deferred considerably more Windows revenue in the quarter prior to Windows 7's launch than it did for Windows 8. For the former it was $1.5 billion, for the latter about $1.2 billion.

Deferrals reflect the value of Windows presales and upgrades that Microsoft believes it will have to make good on in future quarters. An apples-to-apples comparison is difficult. Still, the deferral numbers are worth looking at in the absence of more data from Microsoft.

Regardless of whether you believe Windows 8 is off to a slow or fast start, one thing became clear this week. Microsoft plans to give the platform plenty of rope. In a previous column I suggested that the company might ultimately pull a Coke and introduce what I called "Windows Classic" if Win8 and the Metro interface don't catch on with users. Windows Classic could include all the security and manageability benefits of Windows 8, but lose Metro (also called Modern UI), which many users find confusing.

Not so fast, said Tami Reller, who was named co-chief of Microsoft's Windows unit following Steven Sinofsky's sudden and unexpected departure earlier this month. Reller said Microsoft is into Windows 8 and Metro for the long haul.

"Windows 8 represents really a generational shift of hardware, a generational shift of the operating system and apps, all together, all at once," said Reller, who spoke Tuesday at the Credit Suisse Tech Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. The OS "was built for the future, not just any one single selling season," said Reller, whose comments may also have been meant to dampen expectations about holiday sales.

At this early stage, you wouldn't expect her to say anything else, at least not publicly. But I'm not convinced. If sales of Windows 8 tablets and laptops are tanking by this time next year, the company will have to come up with an alternative. We may yet see Windows Classic. Do you think Microsoft should stick with Windows 8 and Metro? Let me know in the comments section below.

Upgrading isn't the easy decision that Win 7 was. We take a close look at Server 2012, changes to mobility and security, and more in the new Here Comes Windows 8 issue of InformationWeek. Also in this issue: Why you should have the difficult conversations about the value of OS and PC upgrades before discussing Windows 8. (Free registration required.)

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viraldmin
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viraldmin,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 2:44:22 AM
re: Microsoft's Windows 8 Numbers Meaningless
One final piece of perspective that more accurately show NUMBERS for windows 8.

Exctly 48 hours after windows 8 was released, 2.3% of all windows based internet traffic was from windows 8. When you take into account that AppleGÇÖs Mac OS X Mountain Lion received 3.2% of OS X Web usage after just 48 hours of its release, this is AMAZING news for Microsoft.

Now whereas it appears apples numbers were better thats not hardly the case when you take into account that the percentage of internet users using microsoft products was VASTLY larger than that of Mac, that means 2.3% is actually a MUCH larger number of people that that of Apples 3.2%.

Do these numbers make things a little more clear. 2.3% of all windows users, were using windows 8 within 48 hours. THATS REAL NUMBERS.
viraldmin
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viraldmin,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 2:33:27 AM
re: Microsoft's Windows 8 Numbers Meaningless
A silly toy? And you claim to actually be productive? Are you out of your mind?

And to say a cloud computing OS adds to these toys? I think you are vastly confused and believe phones, tablets, and other such computing devices are just handheld gaming councils.

I live and breath the computing world. Explain to me, how do you drive down the road while editing your spreadsheets that your boss needs before you arive at work? Are you pulling over on the side of the road and opening up your laptop?

Me, I am opening my handheld device and using voice mode to edit my documents as I am driving. Can't imagine being really PRODUCTIVE without it.

Just because you don't know how to be productive with touch and voice computing, doesn't mean the rest of us don't. Being able to finally touch apps on my desktop vs point and clicking with a mouse within and of itself is instant time saver. In the amount of time it takes a windows 7 user to move the mouse from the bottom of the screen to the top, I can have touched and opened 5 different apps. Guess thats less productive to.

And sense we are talking about cloud computing, can you point me in the direction of an operating system other than windows 8 that has built in cloud integration... not just cloud based apps?

For the love of the only thing that is sensible - stop trying to argue that integration is less productive. Thats clearly an absurd thing to say. Thats like saying making PC's was stupid because mainframes could do more so who needed a PC, it was just a toy. THANK THE HEAVENS people were not that crazy back in the day.
viraldmin
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viraldmin,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 2:03:52 AM
re: Microsoft's Windows 8 Numbers Meaningless
Seriously do people think that they have a choice? Do people think that microsoft is going to change the same practices and stategies that have always worked for them?

First of all people using windows 7 based PC's, have no option except to upgrade. To say "oh lets revert back to windows 7 and force them to create a classic theme" are dilusional at best. Microsoft doesn't care what your opinion is. If you are going to try to force their hand by not using windows 8 you are going to be in for a big shock (and I am surprized you are that ignorant of the past 20 years).

Microsoft doesn't give you choices. Go ahead try to switch back to windows 7 and see if it lasts. When Microsoft IE 11 comes out and only works on windows 8, and when the new microsoft office comes out to only work on windows 8, and when they stop support of windows 7, you will see it was never their hand that was forced, but rather yours.

The truth is you can stick with windows 7 just like another commenter stuck with windows XP. But as I am sure that person can attest, they were a bit more than frustrated when things like IE 10 would not work on their system. You have a choice, you can use old out dated no longer supported OS's , or you can realize that computers are a short term investment that you must upgrade every year in order to stay current with technology.

I wonder how many people are still walking around with a first generation iphone.... likely but a small handful.... and those didn't exist until 2007....

Get with the times. Windows 8 and its integrated cloud computing, are the wave of the future.
Siddhartha
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Siddhartha,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/31/2012 | 2:25:45 PM
re: Microsoft's Windows 8 Numbers Meaningless
I found a petty decent (cheap but powerful) laptop. It was only available with Win 8, but I bought it anyway (figuring IT might change over soon and I might as well bite the bullet). OMG it is just pain awlful! I'm giving serious consideration to wiping the thing and learning Linux instead. If I'm going to have to put that much learning into a new system, why not one that is essentially free?
Besides, I can retire, so I don't really have to learn Win 8.
Hackworth
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Hackworth,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2012 | 5:06:14 AM
re: Microsoft's Windows 8 Numbers Meaningless
If you like it, no one cares - stop whining about it unless you're going to actually contribute something useful. (See what I did there? Others are allowed to have opinions, too.)

Seriously, Windows 8 has better built-in security, native ISO mounting, and a bit faster booting time. Sadly, the interface is an abortion that ruins the rest of it.
Hackworth
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Hackworth,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2012 | 4:56:43 AM
re: Microsoft's Windows 8 Numbers Meaningless

Forcing a smartphone interface on all computers, especially on a system such as desktop or laptop/notebook that one would consider to be a primary system or a work-related production machine, is patently absurd.

Not everyone who uses a computing device is a "consumer" of content. Some of us actually work and produce. I don't need or want a glitzy, tacky interface that looks like two dozen carnival barkers yelling at me.

And put the damned Start button back where it belongs! Remember, the desktop paradigm that has evolved over the past 18 years has had staying power BECAUSE IT WORKS and it makes sense. Surely someone at Microsoft must understand that, as one pundit said, Windows is called Windows because it has windows--that's what I want!

For secondary devices such as tablets and phones, Metro may be fine and I wish Microsoft success in that market, but for the love of everything sensible, don't force the silly toy interface on desktop/laptop users. It's a distraction at best and an abomination at worst.

pblanc108
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pblanc108,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2012 | 6:55:28 PM
re: Microsoft's Windows 8 Numbers Meaningless
We recently upgraded several of our business computers to 27" Lenovo Ideacentre all in one. The hardware is absolutley beautiful. Running windows 8 on this machine is an incredible experience. Windows 8 is very smooth and powerful and boots up in seconds. Working with a combination of mouse, keyboard and touchscreen makes our work extremely efficient and actually fun.
We have tried the Microsoft Surface to replace our laptops and iPads. The Surface is also a joy to use and a well built and beautiful piece of hardware. It is great that we can run two programs side by side on the screen at the same time. We will replace all our iPads with the Surface Pro when it arrives in January. With the Surface Pro, we will not only be able to replace our iPads with a more powerful device, but we will be able to replace our laptops with it as well. If the Surface Pro does not have cellular, however, we will have to keep a few iPads around.
Windows 8 with touch screen hardware has been the best upgrade we ever did. I am looking forward to replace my desktop at home with the new Lenovo and I will be replacing my home laptop with a Surface Pro.
toothie007
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toothie007,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2012 | 6:01:22 AM
re: Microsoft's Windows 8 Numbers Meaningless
Inform me. In what way am I helping MS? Put your brilliance on display. I am helping them because I happen to have a different opinion than yours? I am not telling you what to think. What makes you think you have the authority to control what others think? No one is allowed not share a different opinion than yours? Are you the Fox News type?
yerwronng
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yerwronng,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2012 | 4:51:50 AM
re: Microsoft's Windows 8 Numbers Meaningless
I believe Windows 8 has serious usability issues, which can be corrected if they pay attention to the experts who have pointed out these problems. It's far from a mature OS, but they should stick with it until they get it right. The biggest mistake is trying to be a jack of all trades. Tablet PCs failed because they did exactly what Microsoft is doing now with the Surface. If they don't rethink their strategy, Windows 8 could become the next Zune, and take the whole company down with it.
jododo
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jododo,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2012 | 10:22:02 PM
re: Microsoft's Windows 8 Numbers Meaningless
You forgot to mention the check you received for helping Microsoft :)
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