Microsoft spent considerable time and money promoting the basic claim that Windows 8 sold 40 million copies in the first month or so, attempting to turn sales momentum into further sales.
On the other hand, numerous commentators have pointed out that copies sold to manufacturers and retailers does not equal copies sold to consumers. Though the 40 million figure is larger than that achieved by Windows 7 in the same period of its life, it’s meaningless if OEMs are simply stocking up for the coming months of hardware sales.
Indeed, overall sales of Windows-loaded products went down by a staggering 21% since the launch of Windows 8, as opposed to the same period last year. This doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem with Windows 8 sales, as the holiday season can play havoc with just about any earnings projection.
Still, with Windows 8 currently selling at a cut-rate $40 for an upgrade of an existing Windows install – roughly half the cost of the same upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 – it’s difficult to imagine it selling more effectively in 2013, when the price is slated to rebound to its traditional level. With Apple’s OSX upgrades coming below even the discount Windows rate, some speculate whether Microsoft will raise the price in the New Year, at all.
There has also been a widespread feeling that most Windows 8 sales are coming from Visa and XP users – that Windows 7 may be a victim of its own stability, causing an XP-like obstinacy that keeps users on a standard they like and understand. This is based on precisely no information, beyond a general understanding that Vista sales were undercut by satisfied, complacent customers using Windows XP.
With Windows 8 comprising just 58% of current Windows device sales (compared to 83% for the same period of the Windows 7 launch), it’s safe to say that more users are opting for a conventional Windows experience via Windows 7 devices.
Whether the reticence to adopt is due to negative crosstalk for Windows 8 or to the wonderful reputation of Windows 7 is unclear. In all, Microsoft has released only a few numbers for their newly launched OS, and most of those are disputed.
If a large chunk of Windows 8’s 40 million units were actually sold before the launch, as has been alleged, then Windows 8 could very well enjoy a stellar launch before a short and disappointing tail. NPD reports that Windows 8 is not driving PC sales, and that tablets accounted for less than 1 per cent of Windows 8 devices sold.
Ultimately, Windows 8 has already sold well. Whether or not the units end up in the hands of consumers, Microsoft must be genuinely happy with their 40 million figure.
What matters now is determining whether those initial sales will continue – this year more than perhaps any other in recent memory, Microsoft needs a big holiday season.