Another Gloomy Sales Report Adds To Windows 8's Tough Week

Just how well is Windows 8 selling so far?

A month past the launch of Microsoft’s revolutionary operating system, data released this week seems to add credence to the idea that consumers just aren’t adopting Windows 8 as fast as the company may have hoped, with negative implications both for the Holiday shopping season and beyond.

In a report released Friday, StatCounter found that by November 26, Windows 8 had a worldwide Internet usage share of 1.31%, compared to 4.93% achieved by Windows 7 one month after its launch in 2009. Within the U.S., that number was slightly higher: 2.12%, versus 6.29% for the same period in 2009. (In the graphs below, the Windows 8 market share is down in the noise.)

Microsoft declined to comment.

StatCounter’s findings follow a similarly worrying report from NPD this week, which found that Windows 8 had captured just 58% of all Windows device sales since its launch, while Windows 7 captured 83% during the same period. Windows 8 tablet sales have been almost non-existent, with unit sales representing less than 1% of all Windows 8 device sales to date, NPD said, excluding sales of the Windows Surface tablet. (And as Microsoft released details of the Surface Pro tablet, due in January, its $899 price tag has left analysts scratching their heads over how many Microsoft will sell.)

The Bad News Has Its Own Critics

NPD’s findings were criticized in part because they included several days before the Windows 8 launch, rather, than measuring the direct impact. StatCounter did as well, although the company measures on a daily basis, rather than totaling up the numbers for a given period.

StatCounter World Internet Use by OS StatCounter World Internet Use by OS

StatCounter has attracted its own criticism, however, including a post from Roger Capriotti, Microsoft's director of Internet Explorer product marketing. Capriotti took issue with StatCounter, for example, because the company doesn’t “geoweight” for the regions it samples. This simply means that StatCounter reports the pageviews it collects, rather than assigning any “weights” based on the known Internet population. “First and foremost, the most populous country in the world, China, doesn’t make the top 20 for StatCounter, when in fact it represents the world’s largest internet population,” Caprotti wrote. “ Japan, a country that represents the number three country in the world in terms of internet users, barely makes the top 30.”

StatCounter U.S. Internet Use by OS StatCounter U.S. Internet Use by OS

Instead, Microsoft has favored NetApplications, which, unfortunately, has collected information only for October.  For October, Windows 7 pulled in 44.69% of visits, followed by 40.66% for Windows XP. The "other" category, which presumably included the preview version of Windows 8 as well as Linux, totaled 4.35%. (In an extremely long and detailed response, StatCounter defended its use of absolute pageviews, claiming that NetApplications’ tracking of user visits doesn’t accurately reflect use.)

A Collection Of Data: Does It Equal A Trend

Other significant caveats include the possible effects of Hurricane Sandy. And the NPD data, at least, didn’t reflect Thanksgiving holiday sales within the United States. And then there’s the Vista hangover. It's difficult to compare the launch of Windows 8 and Windows 7 because so many people regarded Windows 7 as a welcome escape from the poorly regarded Windows Vista. Windows 7 was a well-regarded OS that retained the familiar look and feel of Windows, and this may reduce the need to upgrade to Windows 8. Enterprises typically delay purchases of new operating systems.

Still, what we have here is a collection data points, which appear to be slowly coalescing into a thesis: that Windows 8 isn’t taking off as fast as planned. But as we’ve said before, the most telling numbers are Microsoft’s own sales data, which are expected to be released in January during Microsoft’s earnings call. Until then, we have to wonder: Are the lack of announcements trumpeting Windows 8 sales during the Black Friday holiday significant?

All we can say is this: Two reports have been released this week that paint Windows 8 in a poor light. For Microsoft, that makes it a less-than-stellar week.