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

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Another source is claiming Xbox Infinity is the name of the next Xbox

Next Story

Foursquare app for Windows Phone 8 gets major new update

57 Comments

View more comments

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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..

Commenting is disabled on this article.