Microsoft: 40 million Windows 8 licenses sold

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 28, 2012
Windows, Windows 8

Microsoft was tight lipped about the success or failure of its Windows 8 operating system sales-wise. The only figure the company released was the four million upgrades in three days remark that Steve Ballmer made after the first weekend the operating system was on sale.

Today, Microsoft revealed that it has sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses in the first month after release. Is that number good or bad? That depends on a number of factors, especially whether the 40 million refers to copies sold to retailers or end-users. The former would mean that a substantial amount of copies is still sitting on shelfs, the latter that 40 million copies have been sold to end users and that more copies than that are sitting on shelfs.

We do not know which is which but the complaint is not unique to Windows 8 or Microsoft, as other companies often fail to reveal what copies sold means either. 40 million copies sold puts Windows 8 right in the ballpark of Windows 7, Microsoft's successful predecessor which sold over  60 million copies in the first ten weeks which made that operating system the fastest selling in history.

Tami Reller, Microsoft corporate vice president, noted at the Credit Suisse 2012 Annual Technology Conference that Windows 8 is also outpacing Windows 7 in terms of upgrades. This should not come as a surprise as Microsoft is heavily discounting upgrades to Windows 8. Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 users can purchase an upgrade for $39.99, or $14.99 if they have bought a qualifying PC running Windows 7. That offer runs out on January 31, 2013 and it will be interesting to see how the system performs sales-wise after that promotional period. It is also likely that some users have bought upgrades in order to take advantage of the promotional price but did not install them yet on any machine they own.

According to Ars Technica, Reller also revealed metrics during the conference. 50% of users visited the store on the first day, and some store apps have crossed the 1 million download mark or $25,000 revenue mark.

40 million, as heavily discounted as they are, still indicates that Windows 8 is doing quite well right now sales-wise. For Microsoft, it is definitely a good start even though not a great earth-shattering one.


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  1. ilev said on November 28, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    The Verge : Microsoft will charge for next Windows 8 update , “Windows Blue”.

    Microsoft is busy preparing its next-generation Windows client, shortly after shipping Windows 8 in October. The Verge has learned from several sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans that the company is planning to standardize on an approach, codenamed Blue, across Windows and Windows Phone in an effort to provide more regular updates to consumers.

    Originally unveiled by ZDNet, the update on the Windows side, due in mid-2013, will include UI changes and alterations to the entire platform and pricing. We’re told that Microsoft is aiming to make Windows Blue the next OS that everyone installs.
    The approach is simple, Microsoft will price its next Windows release at a low cost or even free to ensure users upgrade…
    …Microsoft will stop accepting apps that are built specifically for Windows 8, pushing developers to create apps for Blue….

  2. KK said on November 28, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Windows 9 better be good!

    (8 is ok. Lotsa good new stuff. And some really dumb decisions made)

  3. Peter (NL) said on November 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    At end October I upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 8. It is faster, but for me not more stable than W7. Last weekend I encoutered serious problems with Windows 8 and now I am back on Windows 7.

    Has someone an idea what happened to my Nvidia graphics card ? It is not showing up in my Device Manager (display adapter) anymore.

  4. Jim said on November 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    I bought the full version of Win8 Pro for $40. It was too cheap to pass by. I can’t remember ever seeing Windows that cheap, even their upgrades are usually much more expensive than that.

    As of now it is still sitting on my desk in the shrink wrap. I have no plans or reason to install it.

  5. ilev said on November 28, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Forbes :An (almost) obituary for Microsoft.

    …But things aren’t going well for the software behemoth that was once so dominant that a court declared it to be a monopoly.

    Last week, CNET News reported that “Windows 8 got pummeled” by analysts, including Chris Whitmore from Deutsche Bank, who wrote that Windows 8 “will have a more muted impact than prior cycles for a several reasons.” In addition to economic factors beyond Microsoft’s control, he cited mixed reviews, a lack of enterprise interest in the new operating system and confusion around the two flavors of Windows 8 — Windows RT for tablets and Windows Pro for PCs and some tablets…

  6. Mike said on November 28, 2012 at 9:39 am

    I am one of those that have upgraded to Windows 8. However I have only upgraded because of the extremely low price, and the fact that by using Start8 from Stardock Windows 8 looks and runs like Windows 7, I very rarely go to the new UI or Metro start page. Windows 7 was not broke and worked well for me, but I tried Windows 8 because of the lab reports about it being stable and quicker than Windows 7. Having upgraded I am very pleased with the way it works, and now prefer it to Windows 7. However I say again that I would not have upgraded if I could not have got my start button back, and can operate it exactly like Windows 7. Microsoft made a mistake not including it, and thanks to Stardock for bringing it back.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 28, 2012 at 9:46 am

      I agree with that assessment, especially the part that Microsoft made a mistake not giving its customers a choice when it comes to the start menu or skipping the start screen. Then again, it is probably a decision based on financial data to get users to use the store as much as possible.

      1. tPenguinLTG said on November 29, 2012 at 4:34 am

        Ironically, though, if the naysayers weren’t so vocal about the Start button and menu being removed, Microsoft may have kept the option, even if it would be deeply hidden.

  7. ilev said on November 28, 2012 at 9:06 am

    StatCounter :

    On November 25th, Windows 8 adoption was at 2.05 percent in terms of PC owners in the US and 1.44 percent worldwide, 30 days after its launch on October 26th. By contrast,
    Windows 7, which launched on October 22th, 2009, was being used by 4.95 percent of all US PC owners 30 days after its general launch and 4.63 percent of worldwide PC owners during the same time period.


    1. boris said on November 28, 2012 at 6:04 pm

      Apples and oranges. Most people who upgraded to Windows 7 could do so easily since they did not need touchscreen. That is a pretty expensive investment for Windows 8 upgraders even if cost of Windows 8 upgrade software is low.

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