Microsoft Corp has sold 100 million Windows 8 licenses in the
six months since launch, roughly in line with the previous version, but
wants to combat sputtering interest in its flagship software with a
substantial update to make it easier to use, and compatible with smaller
Windows 8 is the first Microsoft operating
system primarily designed for touch commands, but it has failed to
capture consumers' imaginations or make a dent in a tablet market
dominated by Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics.
it perfect? No. Are there things we need to change? Absolutely. We are
being very real about what needs to change and changing it as
thoughtfully and quickly as we can", said Tami Reller, co-head of
Microsoft's Windows unit at the company's Redmond, Washington
headquarters last week, where she announced the latest Windows sales
figure, a number made public on Monday.
Microsoft will be rolling
out an update to Windows 8, provisionally code-named 'Windows Blue', by
the end of this year, Reller said. Details of the update will be
released in the next few weeks.
Although Microsoft has sold 100
million Windows 8 licenses since launch on October 26, matching Windows 7
sales three years previously, it looks unlikely that the new system
will see progressively rising demand, as Windows 7 did, hitting 240
million sales in its first year.
Microsoft's last Windows 8 sales
update was in early January, when it broke 60 million, suggesting only
around 40 million license sales in the last four months, well below
Windows 7's average sales rate.
Windows 7 was helped by the fact
that it replaced the generally unpopular Windows Vista, whereas Windows 8
has confused many potential customers with its new-look 'tile'-based
start screen and the omission of the traditional 'start' button.
learning curve is real, and we need to address it," said Reller. "We're
not sitting back and saying, they will get used to it."
did not say whether the 'Blue' update would restore the start button,
but she said Microsoft would pay more attention to helping customers
"We've considered a lot of different scenarios to help
traditional PC users move forward as well as making usability that much
better on all devices," she said.
alienation, and the lack of affordable touch-laptops that can make full
use of Windows 8, has held back computer sales, according to industry
tracker IDC. PC sales had their sharpest drop on record in the first
three months of this year, plummeting 14 percent.
Reller hopes that new machines from firms including Lenovo, ASUS and Hewlett-Packard will change that this year.
know customers like touch laptops, but they are also price sensitive,"
she said. "Our partners (hardware makers) have to bet on volume, so that
they get price breaks, and get that moving into the (retail) channel."
is also tweaking Windows 8 to make it compatible with smaller seven and
eight inch tablets, which would allow hardware makers to compete in the
fastest-growing segment of the tablet market against Apple's iPad mini,
Samsung's Galaxy Tab, Google Inc's Nexus 7 and Amazon.com Inc's Kindle Fire.
Reller declined to comment on whether Microsoft would make a smaller version of its own Surface tablet (Review I Pictures).
has not made much of an impression in the tablet market so far,
notching only 900,000 Surface sales in the first quarter, according to
IDC, compared with 19.5 million iPad sales and 8.8 million Samsung
Overall, Reller hopes the 'Blue' update and a slew
of attractive touch-laptops will fire up interest in Windows machines in
"I believe that touch will be mainstream in consumer
laptops," said Reller. "I think we'll be pleased with the progress we've
made by 'back to school' and by holiday (year end), we'll be at this
tipping point where we will say, 'Now I see it'."
closed at $33.75 on the Nasdaq, after hitting their highest level since
January 2008 earlier in the session, as the S&P 500 reached an
© Thomson Reuters 2013