Despite a mixed reception to Windows 8, CEO Steve Ballmer is talking as if big sales are a forgone conclusion.
Yesterday he said, "hundreds of millions of people" will be using Windows 8 by next year.
Last week, he said 400 million people would be buying new PCs, implying these would be mostly Windows 8 devices.
Other execs were talking up the 400 million number, too. For instance, Keith Lorizio, Microsoft vice president of U.S. Sales & Marketing, told Beet.TV that some 400 million Windows 8 devices "wil be active" by July 1, nine months after the release of Windows 8 on October 26.
It seems like Ballmer's 400 million number came from market researcher IDC, who predicted 391 million PCs would be sold in 2012. The trick about that though, is that it was including Macs, which are PCs that don't use Windows. It also includes Windows 7 PCs.
So 400 million Windows 8 PCs? Not likely.
But even to sell half that, 200 million licenses (or "hundreds of millions," as Ballmer said) would be incredible. Windows 7 sold about 175 million copies a year after its launch, which Microsoft called at the time "a record breaking pace."
At the Windows 8 launch, Windows leader Steve Sinofsky said Microsoft sold 670 million Windows 7 licenses in three years. So clearly Microsoft has been selling Windows 7 licenses at an even faster pace over the past two years.
But that doesn't mean that Windows 7 sales will automatically transfer to Windows 8, because a huge portion of Microsoft's customers – enterprises – aren't all that interested in Windows 8 yet. Market research firm Gartner says that 90% of companies globally have no plans at all to deploy Windows 8 in a big way, and probably won't until at least 2014. And if they don't like it, they may ignore it forever, just like they did with Vista.
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