Soon after Windows 8′s launch, a chorus of disappointed or lukewarm reviews of the OS began to surface. Some analysts began shaking their heads. Did Microsoft just step in it? Wasn’t this OS supposed to be the software giant’s best and greatest hope of repositioning itself as the rightful overlord of the fast growing mobile computing space? Wasn’t Windows 8 supposed to be Microsoft’s answer to Google’s Internet-based paradigm? As you can tell from the questions, a lot is riding on Windows 8. Justified or not, the lukewarm and downright negative reactions to the new OS by some tech industry observers and reviewers don’t bode well for Steve Ballmer and company. Against this backdrop, it isn’t surprising at all that the Microsoft CEO announced that the new OS broke the 40 million sales mark. I’m not entirely convinced this hefty number will quiet skeptics.
Critics are saying that the market reaction to Windows 8 is not as warm as its embrace of Windows 7. I think this is intellectually disingenuous. Why compare apples to oranges? Windows 7 was embraced by consumers precisely because it provided familiarity and comfort to computer users who didn’t want to use Vista or used Vista and were dissatisfied. Compare that to Windows 8 which seeks to replace the much-loved Windows 7. Simply put, people don’t have as much incentive to jump ship. Still, the 40 million sales figure is huge but Ballmer might have missed a giant opportunity when he announced the figure at Microsoft’s yearly shareholders meeting. He did not clear up questions regarding the precise nature of the 40 million sales figure. There are two ways Microsoft could have racked up this number and they lead to different implications. First, Microsoft could have simply sold 40 million licenses to original equipment manufacturers who need the license for the boxes they are building. Second, a significant chunk of the number may have come from consumers who bought a new Windows 8 machine. If you are a shareholder, you’d want the latter scenario to be true since it implies customer acceptance.