Editorial

So how many Windows 8 licenses have been activated?

This morning, Microsoft decided to start the tech news cycle a little earlier than usual by announcing that it has now sold 100 million licenses for Windows 8, a number which on the surface (no pun intended) is about the same amount as Microsoft sold for Windows 7 during the same time period. The company announced in March 2010 that 90 million Windows 7 licenses have been sold, and in June 2010 it revealed that number increased to 150 million licenses.

So everything should be running on all cylinders as far as the Windows division is concerned, right? Well, Microsoft might be selling a lot of Windows 8 licenses but underneath that 100 million number, there are two facts that are still troubling. One is that Windows PC shipments as a whole have been declining, with no indication that they will be growing anytime soon.

Acer's Aspire P3 tablet with keyboard cover is one of the latest Windows 8 devices

The other, and perhaps more puzzling, fact is that the market share for Windows 8 is still growing much more slowly than Windows 7. Net Applications' latest numbers for April 2013 show that Windows 8 was installed on 3.84 percent of all PCs worldwide, seven months after its launch. In April 2010, that same research group showed that Windows 7 had 11.94 percent of the PC market share, again seven months after its official release.

The evidence seems to point to the fact that while Microsoft is still selling a lot of Windows 8 licenses to PC OEMs, not many of those licenses are actually being used by the general public at the moment. There have been many reasons that have been given to explain the slow growth of Windows 8. The current high price of touchscreen-based PCs is one of them, as is the fact that many people and businesses simply don't want to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8. Heck, we have noted that the 11 year old Windows XP still has a sizable user base even as Microsoft is urging people to ditch it before it ends its support in less than a year.

There's only one real way to know how many working Windows 8 PCs are actually out there in use on this planet; Microsoft almost certainly has online records that note when a new version of Windows 8 has been activated. Unfortunately, the company has never bothered to state just how many Windows 8 PCs have actually gone live. Indeed, there's been no such numbers revealed for any of Microsoft's previous versions of Windows.

Instead we have to make guesses, based on sales numbers given by third research firms like IDC and Gartner and online data collected from websites monitored by Net Applications and StatCounter. All of these companies use incomplete data for their reports. There's no doubt that Microsoft has far more complete numbers on Windows 8 sales but tt simply isn't interested in offering them to the public.

That doesn't seem to be an issue for Google. The company has regularly offered up activation numbers for Android-based devices. Less than a month ago, Google chairman Eric Schmidt revealed that the company has been seeing 1.5 million new Android activations every day and that he expects the total number of activated Android devices to go up to a whopping one billion worldwide by the end of 2013.

It's too bad that Microsoft doesn't feel the need to offer similar information when it comes to Windows 8. It certainly would give a more complete picture of the status of Windows 8 than the numbers the company has currently offered to the public. Hopefully that kind of information will be made during the BUILD conference in June. In the meantime, the 100 million license number, while still impressive, will feel a bit hollow.

Image via Acer

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It could be intersted to know, but i believe that most, if not all, of those licences have been activated - OEM need to be activated too...

However it will be more intersting to know, how many have returned to a previous version of Windows after they have activated their 8 licences...

As example - I have 3 licences for Win 8 Pro - wich I've activated in the first days - mostly to activate also the Media Center Add-on, but at this moment I use only one. I've deleted 2 others and reinstalled 7 and Xp, as I like them more. I keep one, as I'm forced to keep for testing purposes..

It would be an interesting exercise to see how Whammo(?) released its numbers when the Hula-Hoop was the big fad in the 50s.

to put this argument to bed, usage stats do show the majority of these licenses are being in use.

http://gs.statcounter.com/#os-ww-weekly-201316-201319

win8 5.24%
android 1.27%
ios 3.83%


if there are over 1.5 billion pcs and tablets in use, the statistics show the number to be very close to the 100 million licenses.

and by the way, Microsoft doesn't count volume licensing with these sales figures, so for those that want to make even more excuses, you have no more.

The only reason I am keeping up with windows 8 is because I use StartisBack and then completely remove all those crappy apps from start screen even though I don't use startscreen. Turn off smart screen privary violator crap. The only thing I like about windows 8 is dual monitor support ( the dual taskbar). I bought windows 8 only because I payed $15. It would be much better if MS remove metro crap.

I bought a license that still sits unactivated. Got it during the $40 promotion and am planning to use it to build a new HTPC. I'm sure there are many more like me who have done the same in anticipation of building a new PC this year.

I bought/activated 3 Windows 8 licenses. I'm using only one license at the moment (MacBook Pro), for the simple reason that I don't have time to UPgrade to Windows 7

My fiancee's laptop and my desktop are both back on Windows 7 Ultimate.

The market share is not that puzzling at all. There are just more PC's now then there were in 2009 when Win7 came out.
Also Vista was not very well liked (for all the right/wrong reasons) so lots of people jumped on Win7.
This time around people don't feel the urge to upgrade as much, because Win7 is still a very solid OS.

And MS is releasing the exact same type of information about sales numbers from Win 8 as it did for all its previous OS releases.

Why does everybody expect MS to start giving out different numbers all of a sudden? I don't get it? Is it just that personal vendetta people have against Win8?

Stoffel said,
The market share is not that puzzling at all. There are just more PC's now then there were in 2009 when Win7 came out.

Really? Since 2009 the Netbook market has completely evaporated, desktops have seen a sharp decline in sales, same as laptop/notebooks. In their place tablets and smartphones have exploded exponentially and 97% of them are running Android or iOS.

The Sharp decline in Desktops is a recent event, 2012 is the 1st year of a decline in sales, while the prior 3 years had growth. That growth went to the Windows 7 curve.

While the Netbooks themselves are no longer "relevant", the numbers that did sell are reflected in the larger pool that exists now.

Yes there are more PC's now than in 2009.

Clirion said,
The Sharp decline in Desktops is a recent event, 2012 is the 1st year of a decline in sales, while the prior 3 years had growth. That growth went to the Windows 7 curve.

While the Netbooks themselves are no longer "relevant", the numbers that did sell are reflected in the larger pool that exists now.

Yes there are more PC's now than in 2009.

PC sales have been in decline since the end of 2010, however I do not dispute that there are more PC's now than in 2009 but I do dispute by how many. How many PC's are disposed of everyday?

Sonne said,

Really? Since 2009 the Netbook market has completely evaporated, desktops have seen a sharp decline in sales, same as laptop/notebooks. In their place tablets and smartphones have exploded exponentially and 97% of them are running Android or iOS.

I've addressed this claim from you in another post: http://www.neowin.net/news/a-c...les-numbers#comment-2191313

Essentially, according to Gartner PC sales have not declined; it's growth in sales that have declined. Every year since 2009 the PC industry has sold more PCs than the last.

Over 1 billion PCs have been sold since 2009. And even though you paint the tablet space as an "explosion" the top selling tablet has only managed to sell only 100 million units total.

Yes when you talk about "growth" tablets are where its at. But in terms absolute sales numbers, PCs are still outpacing them.

Sonne said,

Really? Since 2009 the Netbook market has completely evaporated, desktops have seen a sharp decline in sales, same as laptop/notebooks. In their place tablets and smartphones have exploded exponentially and 97% of them are running Android or iOS.


Maybe there is a decline in sales compared to other years, but there are still loads of pc's being sold, maybe not as much as the years before, but that doesn't mean there are less PC's compared to 2009.

Those netbooks might not be sold anymore, but people are still using them, so they enlarge the total amount of PC's available

So if there are a lot more PC's around, then the 100 million Win8 licenses will take up a smaller piece of the pie. Really not that hard to understand.

Sonne said,

PC sales have been in decline since the end of 2010, however I do not dispute that there are more PC's now than in 2009 but I do dispute by how many. How many PC's are disposed of everyday?

No they are not in decline since the end of 2010, the first quarter of 2012 still had growth, the first quarter they started to decline was Q2 2012. It is obvious that there are more pc's overall than in the same period 3 years ago, allthough this doesn't explain the difference in marketshare completely.

Article
The other, and perhaps more puzzling, fact is that the market share for Windows 8 is still growing much more slowly than Windows 7.

^This.

This should be common sense it's so obvious... but there is FAR more PC's in the world than when Win 7 launched. So to gain the same market share as Win 7 in the same amount of time, MS will need to sell significantly more copies.

At the moment they have sold about the same as Win 7 in the same amount of time (100 mil in 6 months) and this won't be enough. This is why market share is lower and growing more slowly even with Win 8 selling as well as Win 7.

Why do i constantly have to point out the obvious on this site...

I agree.

But, from this article:
http://www.neowin.net/news/a-c...the-windows-8-sales-numbers

and this article:
http://www.neowin.net/news/150...en-copies-sold-every-second

The difference in 6% of marketshare is not something that will skyrocket in 3 years.

Only if Mobile devices (Android and iOS based) are taking into consideration, then yes.

Otherwise, no. 3.84% vs 10% 3 years ago.... Those 6.16% can't have been overtaken so quickly by the amount of computers sold in three years.

Jose_49 said,
The difference in 6% of marketshare is not something that will skyrocket in 3 years.

Only if Mobile devices (Android and iOS based) are taking into consideration, then yes.

Otherwise, no. 3.84% vs 10% 3 years ago.... Those 6.16% can't have been overtaken so quickly by the amount of computers sold in three years.

Well in 2011 alone, 363 million PC's were shipped... thats a lot of PC's. And all these OS market share statistics always seems to be from Net Applications which isn't exactly the most reliable source.

W32.Backdoor.KillAV.E said,
This should be common sense it's so obvious... but there is FAR more PC's in the world than when Win 7 launched. So to gain the same market share as Win 7 in the same amount of time, MS will need to sell significantly more copies.

At the moment they have sold about the same as Win 7 in the same amount of time (100 mil in 6 months) and this won't be enough. This is why market share is lower and growing more slowly even with Win 8 selling as well as Win 7.

Why do i constantly have to point out the obvious on this site...

You are wrong, there is not "FAR more PC's in the world than when win 7 launched". Everybody is well aware that PC sales have flatlined, what has increased though is, and by large margin, sales of tablets and smartphones...and they are all running Android and iOS.

So to anyone who follows tech news the 100 million simply doesn't add up

Sonne said,

You are wrong, there is not "FAR more PC's in the world than when win 7 launched". Everybody is well aware that PC sales have flatlined, what has increased though is, and by large margin, sales of tablets and smartphones...and they are all running Android and iOS.

So to anyone who follows tech news the 100 million simply doesn't add up

Each year over 350 million PC's are sold. Since Win 7 launched in Octorber 2009 that means theres roughly around 1 billion PC's that have been sold since then.

Sonne said,

You are wrong, there is not "FAR more PC's in the world than when win 7 launched". Everybody is well aware that PC sales have flatlined, what has increased though is, and by large margin, sales of tablets and smartphones...and they are all running Android and iOS.

So to anyone who follows tech news the 100 million simply doesn't add up

no, it only doesn't add up to delusional fanboys. look at the stats. there are more windows 8 devices in use today than android tablets and ipads combined.

http://gs.statcounter.com/#os-ww-weekly-201316-201319

win8 5.24%
android 1.27%
ios 3.83%

W32.Backdoor.KillAV.E said,

Each year over 350 million PC's are sold. Since Win 7 launched in Octorber 2009 that means theres roughly around 1 billion PC's that have been sold since then.


And how many PCs have been decommissioned at the same time?

Says it all:
"Net Applications' latest numbers for April 2013 show that Windows 8 was installed on 3.84 percent of all PCs worldwide, seven months after its launch. In April 2010, that same research group showed that Windows 7 had 11.94 percent of the PC market share"

Order_66 said,
Says it all:
"Net Applications' latest numbers for April 2013 show that Windows 8 was installed on 3.84 percent of all PCs worldwide, seven months after its launch. In April 2010, that same research group showed that Windows 7 had 11.94 percent of the PC market share"


Except that it's 6 months not 7. If one talks about numbers and periods, one needs to at the very least get the period right. Regardless, for Microsoft it doesn't matter, they are getting paid for those 100 million sold licenses, how many actually are activated is inconsequential.

sjaak327 said,


Except that it's 6 months not 7. If one talks about numbers and periods, one needs to at the very least get the period right. Regardless, for Microsoft it doesn't matter, they are getting paid for those 100 million sold licenses, how many actually are activated is inconsequential.

We keep telling him that. In fact I told the loser that it doesn't matter how mnat licenses are sold on hardware, or how mnay bought boxed copies or how many downloaded the software online. Its a sold license. If retailers, or OEM's can't sell what they ordered, they are the ones who take a hit in costs...not Microsoft.

He seems to not understand how business works, yet he tries his best to be a Microsoft hating shill; and he doesn't even know how the business works.

I actually agree with you Jakem. We know Windows 8 RTM has been met with love/hate. Be that as it may, eventually it will sell hundreds of millions. The more there are, the better chance we have of more Modern UI app development.

We should just be focusing on Blue and improving the thing now. It's not going away.

jakem1 said,
I'll tell you what left me feeling hollow...this pointless article.

Oh god for **** sakes percentages don't tell you actual numbers.there are many more pcs in use today than 2009. Why can't some of you guys grasp this simple concept. And why the **** would OEMs purchase another 40 milion licenses if pcs were sitting on shelves. Also last quarter close to 80 million pcs were shipped. What the hell do you think these run? Some fairy is? Of course most of these are windows. This argument has passed its course by now.

The other, and perhaps more puzzling, fact is that the market share for Windows 8 is still growing much more slowly than Windows 7.

I wouldn't really say it's puzzling. Regardless of whether or not you like Windows 8, there are three indisputable facts:

* Windows 7 is a great, consistent, and predictable operating system.
* PC's, in general, last a lot longer than they used to. There hasn't really been a reason for most people to upgrade (myself included) for years.
* PC shipments are in decline, and many people are opting for the likes of iPads and Androids as their replacements, rather than laptops and ultrabooks.
[/list]

These are the majority of the reason that Windows 8 adoption is slow. Not because Windows 8 is a bad operating system, but because most people don't really have a reason to upgrade.

The news of a new version of Windows coming this year isn't helping the numbers either Hopefully Microsoft will find a way to make everyone happy again

Logically, success is bragged about, published, showcased, and advertised. Since Microsoft isn't saying this information, what logically does it mean?

It means that Microsoft is not the attention whore that is Apple. Apple will put together a media event, put up a slide show with charts such as "Number of Apple fanboys named Fred purchasing the OSX update for their Mac vs. Number of Apple fanboys named Fred purchasing Win8 update for their Mac," show how Apple has a much bigger number than Microsoft in that category, and then demand that the media spends the next 4 months talking about how great OSX is selling over the competition because of that chart. Except when listing numbers in their earnings statements, Microsoft has never been one to generate hype over number of items sold. Some will like to claim it is because product X is failing, but except in the case of Xbox (and that is more they are just repeating numbers that others report) they have never done it.

Microsoft likes to brag about the user - developers, developers, developers! Apple likes to brag about themselves - we sold X number of OSX, we had X number of downloads, etc.

This is a frequently used argument, but I don't think it's always valid. There are hundreds of monstrously profitable businesses who don't 'advertise' their success any further than shareholders and company memos.

What's more, it's even less accurate than saying the information given by bragging companies is all that reliable. Numbers are beautiful in that they can be twisted, turned, filtered, and held up to just the right light to give off a picture of success that, despite the spin, is technically correct.

Common examples of this are claims made during Apple presentations, which are notoriously filtered under a carefully selected combination of criteria, and Google's figures, which are a product of ever-changing algorithms and--of course--carefully selected criteria to be filtered against.

Or turn on the TV and look at any car commercial. It's remarkable how every single car with an ad seems to be the #1 _______ with a ________ in ________.

Bragging is meaningless.

The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This is a basic tenant most scientists live by. I wish journalists would as well.

Has MS ever said how many activations or actual users an OS had? Even with windows 7, doesn't the number of users have to be gathered using web stats? I've never seen MS release an actual number of activated licenses. I think that number is largely irrelevant because it's people actually using the OS that matters, eh?

SoylentG said,
It means that Microsoft is not th.e attention whore that is Apple.

If this was the case it would just mean that MS marketing department needs to be replaced.

If I remember correctly Microsoft is always bragging about how many Kineckts, Xbox, Halo, it has sold, they also just gave the numbers of Skydrive users, and also the number for outlook "which includes the forced users" etc... So as we can see Microsoft doesn't shy away of bragging when things are selling well.

SoylentG said,
It means that Microsoft is not the attention whore that is Apple. Apple will put together a media event, put up a slide show with charts such as "Number of Apple fanboys named Fred purchasing the OSX update for their Mac vs. Number of Apple fanboys named Fred purchasing Win8 update for their Mac," show how Apple has a much bigger number than Microsoft in that category, and then demand that the media spends the next 4 months talking about how great OSX is selling over the competition because of that chart. Except when listing numbers in their earnings statements, Microsoft has never been one to generate hype over number of items sold. Some will like to claim it is because product X is failing, but except in the case of Xbox (and that is more they are just repeating numbers that others report) they have never done it.

Microsoft likes to brag about the user - developers, developers, developers! Apple likes to brag about themselves - we sold X number of OSX, we had X number of downloads, etc.

have you seen the other products they "brag" about? You are wrong.

ModernMech said,
The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This is a basic tenant most scientists live by. I wish journalists would as well.
this is not scientific, MS has constantly published numbers that brag about other products but with this one its suddenly scientific? doubt it.

rippleman said,
this is not scientific, MS has constantly published numbers that brag about other products but with this one its suddenly scientific? doubt it.

Okay, fine. Let's go over the other alternatives. You asume that not publishing these numbers means they are bad. It could also mean they don't actually have the numbers. It could mean they do have the numbers but they are unreliable or inaccurate. It could mean that the number of Windows 8 activations is not indicative of the actual number of people using Windows 8. It could mean that the number of Windows activations is highly correlated with Windows license sales and it makes no sense to report both. It could be the have agreements in place with OEMs not to report this information. It could mean that the cost of collecting and maintaining this information is more costly than the value gained from having it. It could mean... ad infinitum.

It could mean any number of things. That you choose to focus in on one of them and say "This is *obviously* the logical conclusion" speaks volumes about your own biases more than anything else. The only obvious thing to you is the absence of evidence, and you've taken that to mean evidence of absence. Your conclusion is not founded in logic, and therefore should be discounted. Sorry.

Want to throw your mind for a loop? Consider this: Microsoft did not publish activation numbers for their most popular best selling OS of all time: Windows 7. By your logic, this means Windows 7 had terrible activation numbers. And yet usage statistics tell us it's the most used OS on the planet. Reconcile that for me. I'm waiting.

>There's only one real way to know how many working Windows 8 PCs are actually out there in use on this planet; Microsoft almost certainly has online records that note when a new version of Windows 8 has been activated.

Except companies which use volume licensing, they activate via own KMS servers.

anonymf said,
>There's only one real way to know how many working Windows 8 PCs are actually out there in use on this planet; Microsoft almost certainly has online records that note when a new version of Windows 8 has been activated.

Except companies which use volume licensing, they activate via own KMS servers.

Microsoft typically don't allow companies to use their products without paying, you can be pretty sure they got a semi-accurate view of even the corporate side in terms of licenses.

Activation would not help. All of the brand PC and Laptop come with a Windows that is pre-activated by the manufacturer. I would guess about only 10% of Windows licenses need to be activated.

anonymf said,
>There's only one real way to know how many working Windows 8 PCs are actually out there in use on this planet; Microsoft almost certainly has online records that note when a new version of Windows 8 has been activated.

That won't help, many users will activate it then format and install a pirated copy of win7 a few days later when their anger of windows 8 gets too much.

They don't usually come pre-activated. When you first boot, you run through the end of the setup of the OS, including the activation process.

torrentthief said,

That won't help, many users will activate it then format and install a pirated copy of win7 a few days later when their anger of windows 8 gets too much.

This is a very small group of semi-power-users who get angry when anything changes.

Nashy said,
They don't usually come pre-activated. When you first boot, you run through the end of the setup of the OS, including the activation process.

Nope. No activation. Extract the key and then test it and it will tell you that is an invalid key. It cannot be use in the activation process. If the key is valid, but already use, the activation process tell you exactly that, that it was used already. But in pre-activated version, it tell you the key is invalid.

FISKER_Q said,

Microsoft typically don't allow companies to use their products without paying, you can be pretty sure they got a semi-accurate view of even the corporate side in terms of licenses.

Yeah as VLK license servers are required to check in with MS every 5 days or something like that.

Did you just repeat yourself 3 times?

From the few I have done, the activation is done on first boot. The same as Vista and 7. The key will be invalid, probably because people try to use it on non OEM products.

Quantify "many". I would argue that's only a select few power users. The typical user that buys a pre-build PC won't bother.