After passing 60 million license sales in early January, Microsoft says it has now sold over 100 million Windows 8 licenses. The company has been rather quiet about its risky product bet recently, choosing not to disclose numbers during the recent quarter and the software's own six month anniversary, but that radio silence has finally ended. The figures are almost identical to Windows 7's early sales performance, with the company originally announcing its 100 million goal for that particular OS on April 27th, 2010.
Recent figures from IDC and Gartner confirm that the traditional PC industry is in decline, and Microsoft's flat Windows revenue during Q3 supports that somewhat, but the company is still managing to shift licenses. While the numbers don't paint the whole picture, only showing retail and OEM license sales, the fact they match Windows 7 is encouraging at this early stage. The real question is whether Windows 8 is pushing demand for touch-based Windows machines. These particular devices are still missing on retail shelves, and a number of them are too pricey compared to the non-touch laptop alternatives. They're also the essential selling point for Windows 8.
"...we were not happy with the overall level of touch assortment."
"As we look back at where we were at the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT, at that point we were not happy with the overall level of touch assortment," says Microsoft's Windows CFO Tami Reller. Speaking to The Verge earlier this week, Reller says Microsoft has seen "some improvement" in the spring shopping period thanks to Atom-based tablets, but there's still some work to do to get these onto retail shelves. "You'll start to see a much broader range of touch PCs" in the back to school period this year, says Reller thanks to "material progress" on getting these devices to retailers. The real focus appears to be on the holiday season though, with new price points and varied devices running Windows 8 and even the upcoming update: Windows 8.1. "Holiday does really become, we believe, a tipping point for touch," says Reller, while noting that there will still be progress to be made even if devices are where Microsoft wants them to be.
Surface sales still a mystery
On the topic of Surface sales, Reller says Microsoft is still not talking numbers. Recent figures from IDC suggest that Microsoft shipped 900,000 Surface tablets in the recent quarter, with Surface Pro making up the majority of sales. "The launch of Pro has also been helpful for Surface overall," says Reller, but the company isn't discussing exactly how popular Pro is compared to RT. Surface RT, which originally debuted on October 26th alongside the Windows 8 release, runs on Microsoft's ARM-based Windows RT operating system. Recently, Windows RT has come under fire from partners who say it is lacking value and "disappointing," and the criticism is mounting.
"Our commitment to the ARM platform is very strong," says Reller. Nvidia and Qualcomm have been "two great partners" for Microsoft she says, so the company remains focused on Windows RT despite the criticism and early days. "We've done, I think, a good job at really listening to our partner feedback on where they want to take the ARM platform," says Reller. "We're listening, we're continuing to evolve, and I think you'll see that over the next several quarters from us … our continued agility on Windows RT and ARM."