Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer predicts more than 500 million people will be using Windows 8 by the end of next year, reports AFP.
Ballmer, who was speaking at a forum in Seoul, South Korea, also expects Windows 7 to hit the 350 million device milestone later this year.
Windows 8 was described by Ballmer as the "deepest, broadest and most impactful" operating system the company has made to date. He promised the "best economic opportunity" for hardware makers and Metro application developers who opt to support the upcoming operating system.
It is thought corporate and enterprise demand has boosted Microsoft's sales in Windows 7, reports Bloomberg, following the more than half-decade of success from Windows XP --- and inadvertently helped along by the sudden requirement to shift away from Windows Vista.
One of the reasons why Windows XP remains so popular is the reluctance to upgrade to Vista in the first place. With many legacy applications still running suitably well on the decade-old platform, there was no incentive to upgrade. Vista suffered with poor backwards compatibility and performance issues which led to many upgrading to Windows 7 as soon as it was released.
Windows 7 shot ahead of Vista and became the fastest selling operating system to date. According to Net Applications, Windows XP has a declining share of 46 percent while Windows 7 has a rising share of more than 38 percent.
At the current trend, Windows 7 could overtake Windows XP in October --- coincidentally the month slated for the forthcoming release of Windows 8.
Windows 8 should be an interesting and testing time for Microsoft. While the upcoming operating system will run on PCs and tablets alike, the ultrabook market is still developing --- in competition with Apple's MacBook Air --- and will likely boost sales in the slimmer and more aesthetically attractive notebooks.
Gartner says more than 100 million tablets will be sold in 2012, with the figure tripling to more than 320 million tablets in 2015. The research firm estimates Windows 8 will gain more than 12 percent of the tablet market, which is only a fraction compared to Apple's around-about 60 percent with the iPad.
Last week, BMO analysts cut HP and Dell's price targets after one of its analysts claimed, "Windows 8 will prove to be a disappointment, at least out of the gate.” Analysts do not think Windows 8 will be as successful as Windows 7 was and continues to be, and PC sales could suffer as a result.
Having said that, if Windows 7 continues to sell hot off the shelves and overtakes Windows XP in time for an October arrival, Windows 8 could push through the expected worst of it and prove analysts' wrong.
Image/data credit: Net Applications, Lance Whitney/CNET.