* Windows 8 sales tracking ahead of Windows 7
* Number of actual users likely lower than license sales
* Intel-based Surface to be released January
By Bill Rigby
SEATTLE, Nov 27 Microsoft Corp has sold
40 million Windows 8 licenses in the month since the launch,
according to one of the new co-heads of the Windows unit,
setting a faster pace than Windows 7 three years ago.
The sales number represents a solid but unspectacular start
for the touch-friendly operating system designed to combat Apple
Inc's and Google Inc's domination of mobile
computing, which has shunted aside PCs in favor of iPads and
Tami Reller, finance and marketing head of the Windows
business, did not give a precise comparison, but sales of 40
million licenses for Windows 8, launched on Oct. 26, appear to
be ahead of Windows 7, which sold just over 60 million units in
the first 10 weeks on sale at the end of 2009.
Reller did not break down the Windows 8 license sales
between relatively cheap upgrades and purchases of new machines
running the new software, but suggested much of the growth was
coming from upgrades.
"Windows 8 upgrade momentum is outpacing that of Windows 7,"
said Reller, speaking at an investor conference held by Credit
Suisse. Upgrading to Windows 8 costs $40, compared to $70 for
the full software package or hundreds of dollars for a new PC.
The latest figure does not mean that 40 million users have
adopted Windows 8. Many of the sales are to PC manufacturers,
who in turn sell a large number of machines to companies, very
few of which are using Windows 8 yet.
According to tech research firm StatCounter, about 1 percent
of the world's 1.5 billion or so personal computers - making a
total of around 15 million - are actually running Windows 8.
Reller did not disclose sales of Microsoft's new Surface
tablet, its first-ever own-brand PC, designed to challenge the
iPad head on.
The first Surface, based on a chip designed by ARM Holdings
Plc, does not run old versions of Microsoft programs. A
slightly bigger version based on an Intel Corp chip
that will run the full Windows 8 Pro operating system and be
fully compatible with the Office suite of applications will be
available in January, Reller said.
The investor conference was the first public appearance for
Reller since she was named as one of two executives to run the
Windows unit after president Steven Sinofsky unexpectedly left
two weeks ago. Julie Larson-Green heads the engineering side of
Reller said the Windows unit had survived Sinofsky's
"The team holistically is in great, great shape. And the
product is in great shape," she said, responding to a question
from a Credit Suisse analyst. "I think transitions are always
somewhat of a challenge, but I think that timing-wise it is a
reasonable time, and the team is busy."
Earlier in the day, Microsoft said it had sold more than
750,000 Xbox game consoles in the United States last week,
including the day after Thanksgiving, one of the country's
biggest shopping days.
That is down from 960,000 sales in the same week a year ago,
in line with reduced computer game spending across the board
this year, as gamers hold off on purchases in the tight economy
and move toward free online games.