On December 17th, ZDNet did a fairly critical article on what it called the Windows 8 slow start, but the very next day, NASDAQ wrote an article saying Windows 8 is the fastest-selling Windows version yet. So which is it?
Believe it or not, it might be both.
The ZDNet article looked at percentage of adoption on PCs. And they point out that when Windows 7 came out, 2.2 percent of PCs switched on launch day, and 5.5 percent had migrated by one month after launch. In contrast, only 1.31 percent of PCs have migrated to Windows 8 one month after launch. The numbers don’t look pretty.
But Nasdaq wrote that Microsoft sold 60 million copies of Windows 8 in the first month, and it's easily on pace to outstrip Windows 7's mark of 80 million copies in two months.
Where is the disconnect?
Well, for one thing, there are simply more computers than there were when Windows 7 was launched three years ago.
For another, Windows 8 sells on tablets and phones as well as PCs. The NASDAQ article doesn't clarify, but I’m assuming Microsoft is at least counting tablet sales, since Windows 8 tablet and PC experiences are nearly identical. This shouldn’t be considered bad accounting or cheating, because part of the Windows 8 vision is that it exists in a consistent experience across all platforms.
Another potential issue is that ZDNet is using data from Stat Tracker, which is tracking the OSes of people visiting various sites. It's possible there is a recording bias in this method.
Regardless, it's obvious Microsoft isn't having a perfect start. If, indeed, Microsoft is counting mobile devices, they are including millions of new devices that are running non-Microsoft operating systems. Their mobile market share is also small. So being excited by 60 million sales might be the wrong way to look at it.
Windows 8 is also being sold at much lower prices. You have to sell a lot more Windows 8 licenses at special $15 and $40 upgrades than you do at the several hundred dollar mark that previous versions have sold at.
On the other hand, Nasdaq also points out that most copies of a new OS are shipped with new hardware. The the fourth quarter hardware sales, when a lot of holiday sales make the bulk of the buying season, will be where Window 8 takes a big jump. Not only that, but PC and netbook sales are expected to jump from 353 million in 2011 to 450 million in 2019. The lion’s share of those devices will have Windows 8 on them.
So, for now, let’s call it a slow fast start for Windows 8. No one is likely to confuse it with the old Coke comeback, but they’re also unlikely to confuse it with New Coke.
As a CIO, why should you care if Windows 8 is off to a fast start? Because BYOD policies mean you have to know what is coming into your department. Right now, Windows 8 might not be the most pressing matter, but don’t take the “slow start” news as a signal to ignore it. The slow fast start means you’re going to have to be thinking about it sooner than the doubters will have you realize.