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Microsoft’s Ballmer predicts half a billion Windows 8 users in 2013

Is half a billion Windows 8 users in 2013 being too optimistic?

Amid a chorus of analysts predicting weak Windows 8 adoption in 2012, Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, has a rosier forecast. Despite analyst’s projections that Windows 8 will flop and lower PC sales, Microsoft’s head honcho boldly predicts that the new OS will rack up sales of, at a minimum, 500 million units by the close of 2013. Ballmer made this projection at a Seoul, South Korea forum. That is quite a huge number for such a prominent Microsoft executive to make considering the rather lackluster download and usage statistics for Windows 8′s beta compared to the similar beta phase for its predecessor, Windows 7. In addition to the huge sales forecast, Ballmer did not hold back on the superlatives for its upcoming OS: he described it as the “deepest, broadest, and most impactful” OS Microsoft has produced to date. He also promised that the new OS will provide the “best economic opportunity” to both developers and hardware vendors that will support the new operating system.

The problem with all these rosy predictions and superlatives is that Windows 7 is still racking up great sales, and many enterprises are not in a hurry to ditch it for the radically new and disconcertingly unfamiliar features of Windows 8. In essence, Microsoft might be a victim of its own success. The new OS is not launching with the same sales advantages of Windows 7: the pull of the Windows GUI continuity it embodies and the push generated by the disastrous public reception and perception of Windows Vista. In essence, Windows 7 proved to be a convincing successor to the much-loved Windows XP OS.

In fact, Vista was so disappointing to many Windows users, many refused to upgrade from XP. As a result, the 11-year-old OS still retains a 46 percent share of all Windows machines while Windows 7 commands a 38 percent, and rising, share. It is only a question of time until Windows 7 overtakes XP. Given its upcoming dominance, does it really make sense to think users will jump ship to Windows 8 when they have just started to become very comfortable with Windows 7.

It is obvious that part of the urgency Microsoft is feeling is due to the rise of Android and Apple’s iOS in the tablet space. Still, given the dynamics above, Windows 8′s sales prospects for 2013, much less 2012, is far from certain-regardless of what Ballmer says.

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