Paul Thurrott recently published an article condemning Windows 8 to failure status on the basis of an inside tip claiming that only 25 million people have upgraded for free to Windows 8.1. This false report of 25M upgrades has been republished and quoted on every major blog from Gizmodo to BGR without any thought or investigation.
"Windows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public, and the latest release, Windows 8.1, which is a substantial and free upgrade with major improvements over the original release, is in use on less than 25 million PCs at the moment. That's a disaster"
A simple look at the data we have publicly available reveals that Paul Thurrott's numbers have no basis in reality. Netmarketshare.com is a widely used and published data tracker that reports OS usage every month. They report that about 3.6% of PCs worldwide are currently running Windows 8.1 during the first 3 months of availability. In order for Paul Thurrott's 25 million upgrades figure to be correct that would mean that there are fewer than 700 million PCs in use worldwide.
3.6% of 700M = 25.2M (Windows 8.1) Thurrott Claims
In reality most estimates place worldwide computer usage at over 1.6 billion users (more than double, possibly 3 times the amount of users as what Thurrott's number indicates). IDC and Gartner data indicates 315M PCs were sold last year alone (almost half 700M).
MS Says Over 1.3B Windows Users (July, 2012)
Important to remember that the Netmarketshare stat (3.6%) is of all computers including millions of Mac and Linux PCs worldwide. That means it is not 3.6% of 1.3 billion Windows users, but 3.6% of 1.6 billion computer users.
3.6% of 1.6B = 57.6M (Windows 8.1) Closer to reality
Netmarketshare.com puts the combined Windows 8.0/8.1 usage at about 10.5% of worldwide PC users:
10.5% of 1.6B = 168M (Windows 8/8.1 active users)
168M active users of Windows 8.x in the first year of availabilty is hardly the complete disaster that Thurrott describes in his "Threshold" article.