Ballmer’s Windows 8 upgrade numbers aren’t that good

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said on Tuesday that the company sold 4 million Windows 8 upgrades. While Ballmer may want you to think that’s a good number, it’s actually not.

Ballmer said today that Apple was a low-volume player in every market, except the iPad (Notice that Ballmer didn’t mention the iPhone even though that one product is worth more than all of Microsoft). He really should be careful what he says.

Microsoft’s has an installed base of 1.25 billion users. According to Ballmer’s own numbers, 4 million upgraded to Windows 8 in the first four days. That means that one-third of one percent of Microsoft’s user base upgraded.

Now let’s take a look at Apple. In its first four days on sale, Mountain Lion sold 3 million copies. Apple has an installed base of 66 million, meaning that 5 percent of Apple’s user base updated in four days.

It’s kind of like people don’t really care about Windows 8.

  • Creator

    That’s because they don’t.

  • D Pauw

    Honest question, is there a compelling reason to upgrade from 7 to 8 on a PC? I tried the public previews and while thought it was a decent enough OS (ignoring the weird Metro/Explorer split) but not worth $40.

    • Mother Hydra

      Is everything just fine for you presently? There is a school of thought that says “if it ain’t broke…” I’m sure you can recite the rest. I’d say, as an IT-type-thing, I will keep my Win 7 for the time being on the workstation, and only use Win 8 on my laptop. I gotta learn 8, but all the AD-intensive stuff at work is built for a Win7 style interface, none of our custom apps (including POS) support a metro-UI now (if ever). Anyone at all interested in gaming will want to stick with 7 as well. The interface is novel, but provides for a jarring experience as you slowly realise how broken the whole system is when transitioning between modern-look-ui and the desktop metaphor. Ugh such a hard switch.

    • Phil Nolan

      Win 8 isn’t just a UI. There are vast speed and security improvements. It also uses a lot less RAM than 7 did. I upgraded my desktop yesterday, but I used the release preview on my 5 year old laptop for months.

  • Corporate administrators are more cautious. Lots of them are still running XP and are just now moving to Windows 7. Mom and Pop users won’t move to windows 8 until they buy new hardware. So, his 4 million in 4 days is actually pretty decent.

    • scotyew

      Uh, no. One-third of one percent of Microsoft’s user base ought to account for any number of niche interests in their user base.

      Even if business accounts for 70% of licenses that still leaves approx. 400 million users. So at best, 1% of consumers were interested in Windows 8? That’s bad.

    • satcomer

      Sean you are using common sense. The internet will have none of that! 🙂

    • Jit

      reason why many people have not upgraded yet because they know their old Os will still be supported by Microsoft for another decade. for Mac that’s six months so thats why people upgrade on Mac faster cuz they are afraid.

      • XP received extended support because Microsoft learned the hard way how few of its corporate customers were willing to move to Vista.

        And where are you getting your information? OS 10.6 Snow Leopard is over three years old, and it’s still supported.

        Who’s afraid here?

        • That1Guy

          Try installing snow leopard on ANY device sold since late 2010. -oops- not going to happen. Its not supported. Most apps cant even run on it any more, unless you are using an outdated version. NOT exactly the same thing as the support XP received

          • You’re angry about being denied Leopard? Cry me a river.

  • Tvaddic

    I think 4 million is good, most of Windows users are price conscience, and they can’t justify spending more than $50 on a software update. And businesses aren’t interested too.

    • you’re kidding, right? First, it isn’t an update – it’s an upgrade. Secondly, it is the cheapest any Windows Upgrade has ever been (which means more should be buying it) PLUS it runs on any machine that runs W7, so you don’t have to upgrade hardware for the first time… and with all the hype… maybe people just saw through it…

      • Tvaddic

        Wow, you were really digging for things to complain about if you are going to start off with my grammar. Point for you. Two most people upgrade by buying a new PC, so Microsoft is happy to sell people the same thing twice. And since when is selling more than you used to. This is impressive considering pretty much everyone was saying how W8 would be a failure comparative to Vista. FINAL SCORE: You-1 Microsoft-4 million.

  • Boo

    Why would someone who is happy with Windows 7 or still clinging to XP upgrade to an OS that is so radically different? If your using Windows on a touch based device that’s different but it makes up a tiny minority of Microsoft’s install base.

    The 1.25 billion vs 66 million may seem like a huge difference but it is a false comparison. Apple doesn’t compete with Microsoft for a share of the OS market rather they compete with other computer companies and do very well in terms of both market share and profits. They simply provide their own OS for their own computers and even provide drivers so Mac users can install Windows natively. Some of that install base of Microsoft’s are Macs running Windows and Balmer would be smart to not publicly dismiss potential customers for their OS and office suite.

  • TeamOneJ

    This might be why:

    Got to Click “Store” in the top navigation Click “Windows software” Marvel at the stupidity

    • In a similar vein, I’m on several of Microsoft’s mailing lists with several addresses. Can you guess how many emails I’ve received about Windows 8 being released?


      • That1Guy

        Funny What email lists are you on exactly??? TechNet, channel 9, office, msdn, windows live, Hotmail, outlook, zune, xbox, windows phone, and pretty much every other Microsoft group have sent out a multitude of emails. How is it that you are on “several lists” and yet never received one at all. Your post reeks of Troll.

    • awesome!

    • That made my day – thank you LOL

    • 3 days later, still there. Hilarious.

  • Windows8

    That was just a pitiful observation, and typical for an Apple blog to do so. First of all, it’s a different scenario. Windows 7 sold over 700 million copies over its lifetime, and is very stable and good. WIndows 8 is now out and folks will upgrade a bit slower, and 3 million in 3 days is pretty awesome considering that. The comparison to Mac users upgrading to 10.8 is dumb, since Lion was an utter mess, out less than a year, and people were dying to upgrade to something that worked.

    I’m sure in a short while we;ll see Windows 8 installed on more sytems than every single Mac ever made.

    Nice try to belittle an excellent MS launch, but the Apple shills are out in force in a really dumb manner.

    • As typical as you think it is to belittle Microsoft, if you have been pating attention to anything out Windows and Xbox, Microsoft’s track records speaks for itself, and it’s not good.

      Speaking of typical…

      Lion was an utter mess

      Based on what? Some blog you read that you trust over the Loop?

  • Windows8

    “People don’t care about WIndows 8”. Ok, then the world must really not bloody care about Macs since the entire number sold amounts to a few packets of peanuts. One thing you didn’t post are the tens of millions Windows 8 copies sold to OEMS on top of the 4 million upgrades. Yeah, suck it up.

    • Oh, the Windows 8 copies that OEMs have no choice but to include with every PC they ship under the terms of their contracts with Microsoft?

    • Bragging about the market dominance of an operating system that comes with the cheap hardware you just bought?

      Congratulations. You’ve just likened Windows to Symbian.

  • Bob

    Jim, you are surprisingly one of the worst offenders of fallacies I have come across in awhile and it frightens me that you have readers. You do a great disservice to the minds and eyes that wander across the page.

    There are a large number of reasons that the user base composition varies so grossly and the fact that you didn’t even attempt to iron them out in your little “gotcha” point illuminates what a poor thinker you are.

    • Jokes on you, pedant. Comparing the uptake rate of one OS to another OS is not an analogy. You can take issue with the nature of Apple’s clientèle as opposed to Microsoft’s clientèle and the factors affecting said rates, but unless Jim was comparing Microsoft’s OS update rates to the rate of winter tire upgrades you are off the mark. Apple’s OS runs on desktop and laptop computers, Microsoft’s OS runs on desktop and laptop computers. Comparing the structure of an atom to the structure of the solar system is an analogy. There is no analogy to be had comparing their rates of uptake of two separate yet basically identical products: desktop computer operating systems. It’s math. Drawing any significant conclusions from such a comparison is where one gets into trouble, but level of interest is a conclusion that can be drawn of these initial numbers barring any significant error in these numbers.

      Wikipedia is only your friend if you understand the topic of the article.

  • Nat5150

    LOL, looks like you hit a nerve with the Windows fans Jim.

    Or, on second thought, maybe the Windows fan. Awful lot of people defending it with no avatar picture. Maybe they’re all the same guy? Maybe it’s Ballmer himself, LOL.

  • kekbur

    apple has made it very simple to do OS upgrades via their itunes/appstore and that’s a big advantage (especially from a sales/marketing perspective). if anything, one could consider win8 the first attempt at laying down the foundations to achieve just that…and it would be about time too. all things considered and “ballmer aside”, i’m not sure i would necessarily consider these numbers “that” bad. i’ve made the upgrade and aside from some minor nuisances, i don’t mind it at all. i use many OS’s, including apple, and i’m not sure what the fuss is all about. they all have to do major upgrades sooner or later (os9 => osx) but it seems as though drinking OS h8rade is the kewL thing to do amongst children…don’t like something, don’t use it. it’s quite trivial really. what exactly does it gain people to criticize “sales numbers and revenue” anyway when none of that really affects their own bank account in any way…is beyond me. i heart fanboiZ. QQ moaR, we all need fueL.