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Company expects another year of record sales, despite imminent successor incoming

Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows 7 has by far surpassed the company's expectations, becoming the fastest growing operating system in history.  The well liked product already achieved the distinction of passing Windows XP.

Now, even with Windows 8 looming ahead for a late 2012 launch, Microsoft says it expects to move a record amount of Windows 7 personal computers -- 350 million -- in 2012.  The figure came courtesy of Microsoft's larger than life CEO Steve Ballmer, who told reporters at a conference in Seoul, South Korea, "It makes Windows the most popular single system."

The implied message is "more popular than Apple".  Apple, Inc. (AAPL) has been challenging traditional PC makers in sales, assuming you count the best-selling iPad tablet as a "personal computer".

Gartner, Inc. (IT), a top market research firm estimates that 103 million tablets will be sold in 2012, with two thirds of those being iPads.  That places cumulative iPad sales close to 70 million units.  Apple sells many more tablets than traditional personal computers.

Windows 8 hopes to gobble up some of Apple's tablet sales [Image Source: Lenovo]

Still Windows devices will outsell the popular tablet, based on Mr. Ballmer's numbers by roughly a 5-to-1 ratio.  Microsoft hopes Windows 8 will expand on that margin, with both Intel Corp. (INTC) and various ARM Holdings plc (LON:ARM) licensees planning major tablet pushes.

Of course Microsoft could face a backlash if Windows 8 is perceived as too much of a "tablet-centric" operating system and a poor choice for traditional personal computers.

Source: Bloomberg





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