by Andy Patrizio
For the first two months Windows 8 was on the market, the news alternated between success and disaster. One report said it was selling, another said it was a stiff.
After two months, Microsoft is clearing up the picture, and it’s not a best case scenario. Tami Reller, chief marketing officer and chief financial officer for the Windows product group at Microsoft, said at the J.P. Morgan tech forum at CES 2013 that Windows 8 has sold 60 million licenses to date.
That would seem to hint at a slow-down. In December, Microsoft announced it had sold 40 million licenses in the first month of general availability. Reller’s figures mean it took the company more than one month to sell half as many licenses, and during the usually lucrative Christmas season to boot.
Microsoft expanded a little on a blog post announcing Reller’s comments, stating there are now more than 1,700 certified systems for Windows 8 and Windows RT. A lot were announced at CES, too.
But so far, Windows 8 is swimming against the current of a terrible economy. This Christmas, the PC industry got a collective pile of coal in its stockings. NPD Group said Windows 8 did nothing for notebook sales, which were down 11 percent over the same period in 2011. Even Apple wasn’t immune to the poor economic conditions, as Macbook sales dropped 6 percent year-over-year.
That 60 million figure comes from both commercial and corporate sales, and in both cases, don’t mean that there are 60 million Windows 8 users out there in the whole wide world, notes Steven Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft.
“What it doesn’t tell us is how many did the customer use. Even with consumers we’re seeing downgrades. Corporations exercise downgrade rights. So if anyone makes a statement that x number of licenses were sold, it doesn’t tell us how they were deployed,” he said.
Windows Vista, for example, sold right up until Windows 7 shipped in 2009, but many firms chose to downgrade to XP instead, since Vista was so poorly received and unpopular.
Cherry said firms are doing that now, as well. When Windows 8 shipped in October, he surveyed Directions on Microsoft clients on their interest, and the large majority said they were sticking with Windows 7.
“They also indicated their plan was to use Windows 8 to evaluate it or in places where there was a particular usage scenario that it made sense, like tablets. There’s some really good Windows 8 hardware, including Surface, but I am yet to find a good Windows 8 app in the Windows Store,” he said.
For desktop users, the lack of apps isn’t really a problem since they have legacy x86 apps to draw upon. For Surface that’s more problematic. “Without a killer app for Surface, it’s only good for Solitaire,” said Cherry.