Windows 8 off to a slow start with consumers in month one, says NPD

Windows 8 off to a slow start with consumers in month one, says NPD

Summary: Retail sales of Windows 8 in its first month have been nothing to write home about, according to analysts with NPD.

TOPICS: Windows, Tablets, PCs

On the heels of Microsoft execs crowing about selling 40 million Windows 8 licenses in its first month of availability, analysts at NPD are putting that figure more in context.


Since the Windows 8 launch on October 26, the number of Windows devices sold at retail have fallen 21 percent vs. the same period last year, according to a November 29 NPD press release. Desktop sales are down nine percent compared to a year ago; notebook sales are down 24 percent compared to a year ago.

NPD measured retail-sales data from October 21 to November 17, 2012 from a subset of a panel of retailers it surveys regularly. (NPD's numbers do not include sales of the Surface RT PC/tablet devices that Microsoft also launched on October 26.) So this is all about the consumer market -- which is Windows 8's sweet spot.

"Since its launch, Windows 8 has captured just over half (58 percent) of Windows computing device unit sales, compared to the 83 percent Windows 7 accounted for four weeks after that launch. Windows 8 tablet sales have been almost non-existent, with unit sales representing less than 1 percent of all Windows 8 device sales to date," according to NPD's press release.

NPD noted that there was a lof of Windows PC inventory left in the channel after the back-to-school season (which Microsoft missed with Windows 8), and that has had an impact on the initial sell-through rates of Windows 8.

NPD didn't mention the fact that there aren't a whole lot of Windows 8 showcase devices available, even though it's been a month since launch. There are next-to-no Intel "Clover Trail" devices in the market yet. Windows Chief Financial/Chief Marketing Officer Tami Reller acknowledged during an appearance at a tech conference earlier this week that more than a few of the expected big sellers -- Windows 8 machines from Dell, Lenovo and HP -- are just coming to market now or in a matter of weeks.

Microsoft officials won't say what they are counting with that 40 million figure. They won't say if this number includes both sales to the channel and sales to consumers; how many of those copies are upgrades vs. preloads on new machines; and how many of these copies are in use/activated. But it's likely a good percentage of these 40 million are sales to OEMs, given NPD's numbers, I'd say.

Update: Reader @steveymacjr went back into the archives and found NPD's analysis from the first month of Windows 7 sales. Microsoft sold more "standalone Windows 7 software units" in its first week of sales than it did with Vista, but Windows 7-based PC sales were lower than they were with Vista, NPD found. So maybe this is just history repeating itself (?).

I do remember I wasn't too happy with the selection of Windows 7 PCs in retail stores at launch. I thought this time might be different. This time around, however, Clover Trail's late arrival seems to have contributed to the lack of compelling new Windows 8 PCs and tablets available right out of the gate.

Topics: Windows, 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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  • Nothing New

    I remember CNET articles saying troubled times ahead as XP was off to a slow start apon it's release.
    William Farrel
    • VERY different times

      Back then MS had NO competition. Now it is besieged on most fronts and is a non player in mobile. A lot of users have discovered they do not need MS products at all and that non-MS products are much simpler and more trouble free.

      MS problems are real.
      • D.T.Long ...I also think MS has problems brewing and they don't know it

        Ive been using W-8 for 6/7 months and what I originally thought was cute and inovative and ahead of its time "Metro and all its flashing tiles" has really started to annoy me. The flashing tiles breaks into your original train of though before you get to the desktop.

        I believe W-8 will end up being a fun OS for the home and W-7 will become the defacto OS in the Business world.
        Over and Out
        • I beg to disagree

          I've been using W8 since it's first beta, I really like it. I actually sold my Mac desktop to use the money for more important stuff (towards a pair of 1990's classic speakers, Klipsch Chorus II's). My Core i5 laptop (W8 Pro) does it all, it does more with 8 GB of RAM than my Core i5 Mac Mini.

          I'm loving this new interface, 10 months until I can swap my iPhone and I'm going Windows phone or back to Android. My little W8 machine is a respectable gamer when I connect up to an HDMI input on my receiver.
      • Come now, D.T., dropped the hate and view things logically

        If back then MS had NO competition, then it's obvious that they would have sold XP from day one hand over fist, as their was nothing else for people to buy, right?

        So today, for PC and laptop buyers, there's still no competition, right?.

        "A lot of users have discovered they do not need MS products at all and that non-MS products are much simpler and more trouble free"

        Beside talking out your butt on that one, (the trouble free part is a joke - more people having trouble with Apple products then they did in the past, according to published reports), everytone I know with an iPhone or iPad still have and use their Windows PC, with plans to upgrade.

        Or is that the part that worries you, someone NOT upgrading to an Apple product?

        I'm just saying that you have to drop the hate, look at things logically, that's all.
        William Farrel
        • I agree...

          ...more over people had just bought a W7 product. I run diverse Linux, OS/2, XP, W2k Server, Mac OS, Android, W8 as virtual machines on W7 OS. Yes, Mac OS runs on Intel, also in a virtualbox application.

          Linux and Apple have their problems too - the most stable Linux seems to be Suse or Ubuntu. With Microsoft you get something for free - Apple doesn't have any freebies. So I run Apple and in order to meet the industry standards I have to rely on MS Office - right?

          I don't care I take what makes sense and my customers need.
          Kit Holz
          • Thanks

            A bit of sanity. Thank you.
      • It still has no competition...

        Mountain Lion is okay but, I enjoy Windows 8 much more than I ever did OS X.

        Windows 8 is a pleasure to use and it does just work! On top of that I get the far superior Microsoft Windows Keyboard Layout where we have a print screen button and a CTRL button on the right side of the keyboard as well!

        Oh and far superior Hardware compatibility.
        • Mountain Lion also runs on an Intel Processor in a virtualbox or vmware.

          So you can enjoy both. Moreover not many people know that Mac OS is an open system, those who are experienced IT people can compile their own Mac OS system.
          Kit Holz
          • Most people in IT hate MACS

            Most real world IT people I have met hate apple and try to steer clear of it

            Its only on the internet all these so called IT pros that love MAC exist
      • It truly is different times.

        It's no longer a Windows exclusive world like it was in 2001 where Windows was the go-to products for all our computing needs. Where PCs were flying off the shelves. Consumers are not as reliant on Windows today as they were back then. Smart Phones and Non-Windows tablets such as the iPad are serving as a great supplement for many consumers daily computing tasks (80%-90% computing tasks). It will become harder and harder for Microsoft and its OEMs to justify the premium costs of their PCs in the market. Just look at Ultrabooks, a failure at their premium prices.
      • that's a stupid comment...

        Back then MS had NO competition.
        >> So they should have sold well back then according to 'analysts'!!!

        Now it is besieged on most fronts and is a non player in mobile. A lot of users have discovered they do not need MS products at all and that non-MS products are much simpler and more trouble free.
        >> Do you use them for work? I myself use it for my job, and I can say that once you start using them for getting money, you will want to throw those fruit devices out of the building.
    • Windows 7 vs. Windows 8

      Note also that when the author compares Windows 8 sales with Windows 7 sales, that Windows 7 was following Windows Vista, while Windows 8 is following a very well regarded OS.
      • @WebSiteManager

        EXACTLY! With the disaster that was Vista, people were clamoring for Windows 7. It's not the same this time because Windows 7 is a well liked product.
      • Windows Vista was much delayed

        The untangling of the Windows spaghetti code resulted in Vista being release more than 5 years after XP. Pent up demand for a modern OS from MS was at that time considerable. PC were running on their last legs, XP looking more than a little dated (out-of-the-box CD-R support anyone?).

        Win7 was released under 3 years after Vista.

        Today throw in more competition, growth of devices, uninspiring hardware, Win8 UI confusion and it's not surprising Win8 isn't off to a glowing start. Still Xmas is coming;-)
        Richard Flude
    • Interesting. Now why woul I get flagged for offering a fact based opinion?

      Oh, I see the usual haters are here.

      Heaven forbid someone offers a POV that doesn't spell gloom or doom for MS.

      That, and they really have nothing else in life, except for "*snicker - snicker - snort - snot!!* - Look mommy, I flagged him."

      William Farrel
      • Micro Moonies

        I see the usual micro-moonies are here
        • What's a Micro Moonie?

          Since I've purchased an iPhone, and offred to buy my wife the iPad, I guess that wouldn't apply to me, right, if it's what I think you're trying to say.
          William Farrel
          • Oh the indulgence

            So you purchased and iPhone and intend to purchase an iPad and everyone should accept your Microsoft propaganda?

            Wake up, perhaps. Who cares whether you have and iPhone or not?
  • troubling news

    If the following is true:

    Then microsoft's surface is in trouble. Think about. They never announced numbers sold to end users, and you know if the numbers were good, they would've shouted them from the rooftops.

    And for a company that's trying to emulate Apple, by building their own hardware, it's a horrible way to start off.

    Apple can't build enough products, Microsoft has to throttle down.