Yesterday, Microsoft disclosed at CES that Windows 8 sales had hit 60 million in 10 weeks (70 days, which makes the benchmark date January 4, 2013) after its launch (source: NBC News Blog 1/8/2013). At roughly the same time in the Windows 7 sales cycle, Microsoft reported crossing 60 million at around 74 days out, saying further that this 60M number represented “more than have ever been sold in any other single quarter” (attributed to Bill Koefoed, MS GM of investor relations on 1/29/2010).
By my reckoning, this means that Windows 8 is selling roughly on par with Windows 7 after its release. Though pundits and analysts have been sounding notes of doom and gloom regularly on Windows 8 for the past year or longer, perhaps the new OS and its much-maligned touch-oriented interface is doing better than many had thought or hoped. Certainly, matching the Windows 7 sales track is nothing to sneeze at, especially since so many have speculated that Windows 8 could sell even better if more touch-enabled hardware were available to let it really do its thing best. If what we’re seeing at CES in Las Vegas this week is any indication, OEMs and peripheral vendors are working overtime to deliver touch-friendly PCs, platforms, peripherals, and add-ons galore.
That said, some of these sales don’t yet translate into “Windows 8 running on user desktops” because many Windows licenses are sold to OEMs so they can install them on desktops, notebooks, tablets, and so forth. Microsoft gets to book their purchases as sales, even though those same OEMs might not yet have passed those licenses onto actual buyers at any given moment in time. Market research firm NPD also reported on 1/4/2013 that “…the new [Win8] operating system did little to boost holiday sales or improve the year-long Windows notebook sales decline…” but also that “sales of Windows notebooks under $500 fell by 16 percent while notebooks priced above $500 increased 4 percent.”
My gut feel is that the Windows 8 phenomenon has yet to hit its full stride, and that it will take until mid-year — with broader more affordable access to touch-enable Windows 8 tablets, ultrabooks, and notebooks — before the real shape, market share, and momentum of the Windows 8 market is more fully understood. Sales will continue, but I suspect they’ll remain flat or without much added slope until July or August. After that, it will be extremely interesting to see if the sales curve spikes sharply upward, or if it continues its current modest trajectory.