Microsoft: 60 million copies of Windows 8 sold to date

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 9, 2013
Updated • Jan 9, 2013
Windows, Windows 8

How successful is the Windows 8 operating system? One way to find out is to compare its performance with previous Microsoft operating systems, and while situations are not identical, doing so provides us with a rough ballpark on that. So, Microsoft today announced that the company has sold 60 million licenses of the Windows 8 operating system to date which includes both upgrades and sales to OEMs for new devices.

Windows Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer Tami Reller said that this is a "similar sales trajectory" as that of Windows 7. And it seems so, considering that Windows 7 launched at around the same time three years ago and managed to sell 60 million copies by the end of January. But, is Windows 8 really more popular than Windows 7 or at least equally so?

The first issue that I have with the numbers is that we do not know if they cover equal grounds. While the 60 million copies of Windows 8 include upgrades and sales to OEMs, we do not know if this is also the case for the Windows 7 figure as it is not mentioned in the article. The mentioning of sales to OEMs however indicates that at least some of the licenses may not yet have been sold to end customers, as it includes machines that have been assembled and shipped but not yet sold or deployed.

The second aspect that needs to be considered is pricing. Windows 8 Pro upgrades  are available for $39.99 until the end of January 2013 for any version of Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7. Compare that to the promotional price of $99.99 for Windows 7 Professional or even the Windows 7 Home Premium price of $49.99 during the Windows 7 pre-order promotion.

The digital download of the upgrade to Windows 8 is available for half the price that the comparable Windows 7 upgrade offer was available for which most certainly did increase sales of Windows 8 licenses. By how much? We do not know. What we do not know however is that Microsoft's revenue per license will be lower for every copy of Windows 8 the company sells during the promotion than it has been during the Windows 7 promotional sale. Then again, the Windows Store may make up for that and it will be interesting to see how much revenue Microsoft generates from it and how that changes over time. Reller confirmed in the same article that the store has seen more than 100 million app downloads.

Despite that, it seems that Windows 8 is doing considerable well sales-wise even though it is likely that at least some users made the decision to buy upgrades for the promotional price without installing them yet on any of their PCs. Still, a license sold is a license sold and that's what counts.


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  1. Shai said on January 11, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    From my experience I’ve learned that sales data can by as easily manipulated as Polls and therefore is pretty much as ineffective as them, even more so when the source providing the data clearly has something to gain.

    Also, many who look for a new Laptop PC find themselves “stuck” with Windows 8 because there aren’t much “new” Laptops being sold without an OS, and the price difference is usually not that significant, especially with Windows 8 pricing scheme, to be considered a factor by many. Therefore many buy the Laptop for the hardware (not the OS), get Windows 8 in the process, but later install a different OS for their day to day use. But the sale, of course, still contributes to the total sale figure regardless of actual use.

  2. Lulu said on January 10, 2013 at 12:35 am

    I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to upgrade from Win 7 to Win 9 without issue. Much like upgrading from Vista or XP to Win 8. I think you just wasted $105.

  3. berttie said on January 9, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    Seven of those 60 million were purchased by myself and family members, all at $14.99, but it is unlikely any of the licenses will be used anytime soon. Their only purpose is the maintain an upgrade path for the next version which hopefully will tone down the Metro interface after pressure from corporate customers. Whether it will be probably depends on how profitable the Windows store is given that Microsoft seems to see it as its future ‘river of gold’ with the OS as a minor part of the business.

  4. Nick M said on January 9, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Any word on how many Win8 were practically given away to the US Department of Defense?

  5. Gonzo said on January 9, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    Wow, I can’t believe they tried to do it again. Remember the “40 million copies sold” announcement back in November that was totally debunked? Once again, I’ll wait for the hard numbers:

    I find the Iconia W510 and others based on the same Clovertrail Atom to be interesting. A $500 tablet with 10 years of OS support is certainly something I would adopt. However, the Windows Store is a ghost town, impossible to navigate and it’s keeping me from taking the plunge. Forcing traditional laptop/desktop users into the Metro ecosystem appears to be backfiring. If they want a piece of this pie then maybe they need to offer devs better margins or incentives. History shows that undercutting competition (like Android) is the best way to break into a saturated market space and alienating your current customers (like RIM) is a good way to fail.

  6. JohnMWhite said on January 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Well, yes, it works fine with those, but it was clearly designed for touch-screens and Microsoft put a lot of effort into encouraging the use of fingers. It’s a bit annoying for a desktop OS to put most of its resources into an interface that doesn’t actually suit the desktop user. Microsoft’s attitude of outright forcing Metro on people has in particular been quite off-putting.

  7. Tim said on January 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    You don’t need to replacing the mouse with your fingers to use Windows 8. It works perfectly fine with a mouse and keyboard.

  8. Beach Bouy said on January 9, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Replacing the mouse with your fingers was never a good idea. I can’t imagine why anyone at Microsoft thought otherwise. It’s fine for phones and tablets. But, keep your greasy fingers off my pristine 31″ desktop monitor.

  9. Jim said on January 9, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    One more note. This is pretty obviously something MS has cooked up to counter recent news about how Win8 is doing worse than Vista was. Here is an example.

  10. Jim said on January 9, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I’m one of those who bought it but haven’t installed it. It’s still sitting on my desk in the shrink wrap. I got the retail boxed version of Pro for $40, so I grabbed it. I mean, when have we ever had a chance to buy Windows for $40? :)

    This is just personal experience, but in my IT shop of about 50 folks, only one has installed Win8 and is using it on his PC. (At home, not work. My company is not going to implement Win8. We’re sticking with Win7.) Everyone else is using Win7 with a few still hanging on to XP. That’s pretty telling considering geeks are usually the first adopters.

    Also, during my Christmas shopping I saw very few computers being purchased, (actually only saw one), but I saw several non-Windows tablets headed out the door. Some were even sold out. (Two new ones showed up in my house, for example.)

    Based on my personal experience and observations, I would have to agree with ilev. These numbers are pure spin. The licenses are sitting on unsold PCs and in OEM inventory. They do not represent true market share, but a few “real” sales and a lot of unsold inventory.

  11. ilev said on January 9, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    To add to the above.

    Windows 8 (none RT) has 1.72% global market share in December 2012. Windows 8 touch has only 0.05%, which bring Windows 8 to 1.77% (Windows XP 39%, Vista 5.67%, Windows 7 45.1%).

    Surface RT has 0.01% global market share.

    Net Applications report.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 9, 2013 at 3:12 pm

      Well that is not market share but usage statistics.

  12. ilev said on January 9, 2013 at 10:26 am

    …Despite that, it seems that Windows 8 is doing considerable well sales-wise…
    No it does not. These are paper in a drawer licenses, not install base, and Microsoft won’t reveal Windows 8 install base (they can from Windows update data).

    Windows PC sales are were down 11% during the holidays Nov. 18 and Dec. 22, 2012.
    Tablets sales has surpassed laptop sales in US (and will surpass PC sales worldwide this year), and I can assure you that these tablets didn’t run Windows 8/RT.

    Only 4.5% of Windows PCs sold had touch screens

    (According to NPD)

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