The Microsoft number we all want to know: Windows 8 sales to date

The Microsoft number we all want to know: Windows 8 sales to date

Summary: Microsoft didn't release an updated count of Windows 8 licenses sold as part of its third quarter earnings. But here's what the company did say about Windows.


On April 18, Microsoft didn't share the one number many company watchers had been awaiting: An updated count of number of Windows 8 licenses sold.


There was no guarantee the Softies would provide an updated count today, the day it released its Q3 FY2013 earnings. But many of us had been expecting it.

Microsoft officials said they sold more than 40 million copies of Windows 8 the first month it was commercially available.

On January 8, Microsoft officials said the company had sold 60 million licenses of Windows 8 to date. This total included sales of licenses to OEMs, as well as Windows 8 upgrades. It did not include copies of Windows 8 sold via volume-licensing agreements. It may or may not also include Windows RT license numbers. (Microsoft officials declined to comment on that when I asked.)

At the time, Microsoft execs said the 60 million figure was roughly in line with the number of Windows 7 licenses sold during the same period of time after its launch in October 2009.

Windows 8 and Windows RT went on sale on October 26, 2012. Today marks almost six months since Windows 8 launched. 

Microsoft sold more than 100 million licenses of Windows 7 in its first six months, company officials said back in June 2010. At that time, they called Windows 7 "the fastest selling operating system in history."

Windows 7 is still the most popular version of Windows in use, with the decade-plus-old Windows XP coming in at number two. According to the latest usage share data from NetMarketshare, Windows 8 currently has 3.17 percent of the desktop operating system share, compared to Vista with 5 percent; XP with 39 percent; and Windows 7 with 45 percent.

What Microsoft did say about Windows 8

The Windows division posted revenues of $5.7 billion for the quarter. After adjusting for the $1.1 billion of revenue related to the Windows Upgrade Offer, the Windows division's revenue was flat. Windows client net income for the third fiscal quarter of 2013 was $3.46 billion, up from $2.98 billion for the same quarter a year ago.


In its 10-Q statement, Microsoft noted that excluding the impact of the Windows Deferral (the Upgrade Offer plus pre-sales, prior to general availability), about 65 percent of the Windows Division comes from copies of Windows purchased by OEMs, which they preinstall on PCs and tablets. The rest of the revenues are from commercial and retail sales of Windows, Surface, PC hardware products and online advertising.

"Revenue from Surface and increased commercial sales of Windows was offset by the impact on revenue of a decline in the x86 PC market," said Microsoft in its 10-Q. "OEM revenue grew 17%, reflecting the revenue related to the Windows Upgrade Offer, offset in part by the impact on revenue of a decline in the x86 PC market."

(Non-OEM revenue -- sales of Surface and Windows sold commercially/at retail -- for the Windows division was up 40 percent, according to Microsoft.)

Microsoft officials attributed Microsoft's quarterly revenues of $20.49 billion and earnings of .72 per share primarily as the result of the strong performance of its other businesses and divisions.

The press-release quote from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer: “The bold bets we made on cloud services are paying off as people increasingly choose Microsoft services including Office 365, Windows Azure, Xbox LIVE, and Skype.... While there is still work to do, we are optimistic that the bets we’ve made on Windows devices position us well for the long-term."

On the earnings call, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein reconfirmed Microsoft was working with OEM partners on "small devices powered by Windows." (There's been talk of a possible mini-Surface, which may be a 7-inch or 8-inch device, as well, which Klein didn't mention.) He said these would be out "in the coming months." He also noted new Windows PCs would be available in time for back-to-school and that Intel "Bay Trail" Atom-based devices would be out by year-end.

I'm curious when and if Microsoft provides a new update on number of Window 8 licenses sold. Maybe that will happen at Computex or TechEd North America -- both happening the first week of June this year? In any case, today's silence on this front is ... interesting.

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, Tablets, PCs


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • The Microsoft number we all want to know: Windows 8 sales to date

    Just like I asked in another blog, if they did release the number of Microsoft Windows 8 sales what good would it do? You would have every ZDNet blogger trying to spin it to fit their agenda which would come out to 2 positive articles and 8 negative ones about the sales. It would be nothing more than the same old ZDNet hit pieces and click bait. Microsoft is still going strong with a diverse set of investments in their products. They are doing well and are not doomed like the other bloggers would have us believe.
    • The numbers are the numbers.

      Numbers don't lie, although people may...

      And now everyone is wondering why MS is being so coy.
      • I agree. Like Apple with iPad mini sales

        in which no sales figures have ever been given, you have to wonder why.

        Is this the same case, maybe off to a slower start then the companies have hoped for?
        William Farrel
        • Your sudden need to start talking about Apple is duly noted.

          However, this blog concerns MS. As for your "attention deficit" problem, may I suggest consulting your doctor?
          • Not really Zogg, just pointing out a reality, maybe a vindication of sorts.

            I said early on, after one of Apple's quarterly report that followed the release of the iPad mini, that I thought it odd that Apple, a company that once boasted how many each individual product sold, suddenly about faced and just heaped all iPad sales together, making it a bit murky trying to determine if it was a "success".

            I asked if they were hiding the fact that maybe the mini did not sell to expectations, hence why no hard numbers.

            Of course I was called a shill, or that I didn't know what I was talking about, and an MS employee, (maybe even by you), all for suggesting that Apple being coy with those numbers might indicate that the mini was not the hit Wall Street, and Apple was hoping for.

            6 months, and a 40% Apple stock drop later, and NOW a different company being coy about sales figures is important? Why wasn't it back then?

            And I was agreeing with you, actually - If I thought that Apple being mum on mini numbers was suspicious, I agree that MS being coy on Windows 8 sales figures just as suspicious.
            William Farrel
          • Apple never breaks out individual products in a given category

            I said early on, after one of Apple's quarterly report that followed the release of the iPad mini, that I thought it odd that Apple, a company that once boasted how many each individual product sold, suddenly about faced and just heaped all iPad sales together, making it a bit murky trying to determine if it was a "success".

            In fact Apple does no such thing. Take their oldest non-Mac category, the iPod -- they lump them all together from the iPod shuffle to the Classic -- they never, eve break out individual models. Nor do they tell us how individual iPhone models are doing. Why should the iPad be any different. Trying to make the iPad into anything other than the overwhelming success it has been, growing at a much faster rate than either the iPod or iPhone did, is just silly.
            Ted T.
          • The first paragraph was a quote

            No way to edit the post, unfortunately.
            Ted T.
          • @Ted

            Point being Apple even breaks Macbook Air and Macbook Pro. Why not iPad and iPad mini?

            Regarding various iPhones and iPods, they are same products. Only a number is different. In case of iPad and iPad mini are two different products.
          • Re: Not really Zogg, just pointing out a reality, maybe a vindication of..

            But Will, that was Todd Bottom3 that had said all that, and....Oh.

            Sorry, I didn't realize you were both the same person......

          • Dude! For once he makes a reasonable comment ...

            ... and you ding him for it! All he's doing is comparing it to a possibly-similar situation ... that's well within the rules of etiquette.

            We have to encourage positive behavior from ones-who-tend-to-troll. Heck, even L-D has uttered an objective comment now and again - hope endures.
        • It's not hard to figure out...

          At the beginning of January, Microsoft said that they had sold 60 million licenses. At the beginning of January, Microsoft about 2.2% worldwide market share (according to GlobalStats/StatCounter).

          As of yesterday, Windows 8 have 4.58% worldwide market share... which is more than double. Therefore, I think it's safe to assume that they've at least sold another 60 million licenses... so we're probably at 120 million or more... after less than six months.

          Here's a link to the GlobalStats/StatCounter numbers I'll talking about (if you click on the "Download Data" link, the numbers will open in Excel).

          • It took Apple three YEARS to sell 121 million iPads...

            Microsoft seems to have sold at least that many copies of Windows 8 (a supposedly flop OS) in five months...
          • One more data point...

            While it's unclear whether GlobalStats/StatCounter's numbers include both the iPad & iPhone in their "iOS" number for the market share numbers I linked above, it doesn't really matter in this case because we already know that Apple has sold over 120 million iPads. And what is the iPad's/iOS's global market share... slightly lower than Windows 8's.

            StatCounter showed iOS at 3.56% yesterday and Windows 8 at 4.58%.
          • My point was...

            My point was that if Apple has sold over 120 million iPads and has about 4% market share, then it reasons that Windows 8 has sold a similar amount since it has almost 5% market share.
          • I don't think they sold 121 million copies of Windows 8

            I'd guess 80 million would be accurate, if that.
            William Farrel
          • I think it will be more than 100 millions

            Ram U
          • If so, where are they?

            They would at least be visible somewhere. Retailers are still pushing Win7.
          • guess? accurate?

            how does guess and accurate belong in the same sentence?
          • Why So Afraid?

            If theyve sold SO many copies of Windows 8, why are they so scared to say anything about it alongside all the other successes they noted?

            Is it because unlike the big round multi-million figures in their press releases, stating a number in an earnings report means they can be held to it?

            Do tell, the silence is deafening.
            Darrah Ford
          • Cause They Copy

            MSFT always follows the leader. Whatever Apple does, MSFT follows. If Apple comes out with their own retail stores, MSFT does the same. Apple has an mp3 player, a smart phone, and a tablet and MSFT follows. Apple keeps it all a secret so MSFT does the same. MSFT always copies Apple.