For some time now, Microsoft’s radical redesign of the Windows 8 user interface has raised the question of whether the new operating system will fare more like Windows Vista (which is to say poorly) or like Windows XP or 7 (which is to say, like gangbusters). Microsoft’s relentless rah-rahs and never-ending hype to the contrary, the numbers make a case that Windows is moving into the market more like Vista than like those, more popular sibling versions of Windows. No sources for numbers for such discussions are more popular, or more frequently cited, than those from NetMarketShare, which shows the following breakdown for Internet users by percentages this morning for Desktop Operating System Market Share:
Paul Thurrott states this case very well in his recent WindowsITPro article “Windows 8 Sales: Hot or Not?” (where he also points out, quite correctly, that even though Net Applications labels these numbers as representing market share, they actually represent usage share because those numbers are drawn from an analysis of Internet users; all the copies of Windows 8 that have been sold but not yet installed or which aren’t being used aren’t counted by such measurement techniques). Usage rates for Windows 8 are climbing month to month, but very slowly which causes Thurrott to observe that Windows 8′s “… usage share after one quarter trails that of Windows Vista at a similar time after its 2007 launch.”
On the other hand, Microsoft continues to tout that Windows 8 has “sold 60 million copies” (though I’ve been seeing that number since late January, so one wonders why it’s not already 70 or 80 million). The company claims this is on part with Windows 7, which sold at a steady 20 million copies per month for nearly three years. And as Thurrott points out “…there are … questions about Microsoft’s numbers, which always represent sales to PC makers and into the channel and not sales to end users.”
Finally, Thurrott isn’t ready to call Windows 8 a “debacle” just yet, but he does confess to being worried, given that Windows 8 should have a much bigger sales base than Windows 7, because it covers mobile devices, especially tablets (and possibly even smartphones, if you buy the idea of Windows 8 Phone as just another version of Windows 8). And so far, that bigger potential mostly remains unrealized. Do I think this is cause for concern? Yes, I do, but I don’t think it’s a death knell for Microsoft, either.