Microsoft is claiming a rather late victory with Windows 8, with over 200 million licenses sold since the operating system’s release in October 2012. The 200 million licenses include the number of upgrades that Microsoft sold as well as retail sales stocks, OEM sales and system upgrades for consumers who bought Windows 7 machines an qualified for an upgrade copy of Windows 8. While these are some good numbers some 15 months following the original’s release, it’s not as successful as the software giant hoped it would be.
In a much smaller time frame of 12 months, Windows 7 met and exceeded 240 million licenses towards the end of 2010. To date, with the last known tally of 630 million licenses passed on 9 July 2012, estimates for Windows 7’s share in the desktop market could be set at 800 million licenses worldwide. With Windows XP becoming abandonware in April 2014, many companies will be moving to Windows 7 in the coming months, effectively replacing XP as the new de facto standard until extended support ends on 14 January 2020.
Crossing 200 million licenses for Windows 8 isn’t a bad number, though. It’s a bigger success than Vista and, barring the Modern UI switching and a lack of really good Modern UI applications, still has significant changes to the desktop and under the hood that makes it a better overall performer than Windows 7. Windows 8.1 adoption is similarly good, but many more are still on the default Windows 8 install.
As things currently stand, Windows 7 already has an insurmountable lead in the market. Should Windows 7 completely eat up XP’s market share, Microsoft may have an even bigger task on their hands getting rid of what is almost a perfect operating system.
What Microsoft needs to do now is focus heavily on the GDR update that will be hitting the Windows Store in March 2014. GDR carries with it a number of changes to how the OS and Modern UI work together, in some ways moving back to the jarring dual-personality it displayed on launch. To make their new userbase work for them, Microsoft now needs to tie in Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone together even further because they have three juggernauts to fight against now – Apple, with iOS and OS X; Google, with Chrome OS and Android and Mozilla, with Firefox OS and possibly a custom Linux OS in the future.
Truth be told, they do have a solid offering and the integration with Skydrive, Office 365, Skpe, Xbox One and Lync makes using devices in the Windows 8 ecosystem a lot more fluid and coherent. But as with a lot of things, Microsoft doesn’t seem to always know when it’s sitting on a gold mine or a hornet’s nest. I hope, for the user’s sake, that the new CEO, Satya Nadella, leads a renewed, energetic push into making the platform more user-friendly and functional and doesn’t give it up easily.