Windows 8: forget 100m licences 'sold', here's how many PCs are running it

Microsoft's announcement that 100m Windows 8 licences have been 'sold' disguises how many PCs are actually running it. The answer: a lot less than that suggests.

How many PCs are actually running Windows 8? Earlier this week Microsoft's Windows chief Tami Reller offered the statistic that 100m Windows licences have been sold since its introduction six months ago, a run rate that keeps it on par with Windows 7 in 2009.

But "licences sold" doesn't equate directly to "PCs running that version". There's are two reasons for this: both enterprise and individual customers can, if they want, buy a Windows 8 licence which gives them downgrade rights to Windows 7. And secondly, a licence counts as "sold" when it has been put onto a device (tablet, notebook or in-betweener such as the Surface) - but that doesn't mean it's in a customer's hands. For example, there's Will Perrin, who bought a higher-cost version of Windows 8 in order to have downgrade rights - which he exercised - to Windows 7.

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