Windows 8: 100M Licenses Sold, Only 41% Being Used

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft executive Tami Reller recently took the opportunity to boast that her firm has now sold 100 million licenses of the new Windows 8 operating system (OS). On the surface, it appears impressive that Microsoft has sold so many licenses in just a six-month time frame. (Source:

However, industry insiders have suggested that many of those licenses aren't being used.

According to Patrick Moorhead, lead analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, "The challenge is figuring out what that [100 million licenses sold number] actually means."

"It doesn't mean that there are that many devices out the door," Moorhead added.

License Sold, But Not Necessarily Active

What is Moorhead talking about? It's important to note that 100 licenses sold doesn't necessarily mean there are 100 million people actively using a Windows 8 laptop, desktop, or tablet computer.

That's because Microsoft counts a license sold when they perform a transaction with a customer or a PC manufacturer, like Asus, Acer, or Dell. The problem is that many of those manufacturers haven't yet sold their Windows 8 computers to an end user.

This means there could be many, many Windows 8 systems sitting in a warehouse somewhere.

Moorhead notes that Microsoft hasn't been specific about how many people are actually using Windows 8 computers. And he suggests that could spell trouble for the Redmond, Washington-based firm.

No News is Bad News: Analyst

"No specific news from Microsoft is bad news, because if it was good news, Microsoft would be shouting it at the top of their lungs," Moorhead said.

"Instead, Microsoft is thinking they don't want to be persecuted over the number, so they're not saying anything."

Without Microsoft's assistance it's very difficult to determine how many Windows 8 PCs are actually in use.

However, by combining overall Windows usage statistics from California-based analyst firm Net Applications with the percentage of Windows PCs running Windows 8, we're left with just 58.6 million active Windows 8 systems.

In calculating overall usage, PC World's Gregg Keizer suggests that this means just 59 per cent of all Windows 8 licenses are actually being used. (Source:

That also means more than two in every five Windows 8-based computers are probably gathering dust on a warehouse shelf.

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