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Microsoft won't say exactly how many windows 8 machines are being used

Not too long ago Microsoft was bragging that it had sold 100 million licenses for Windows 8. While the software giant was happy to say how many licenses that have sold, it's not offering any details on exactly how many of those licenses have been activated and how many copies of Windows 8 are in use. This is a question analytics firm Moor Insights & Strategy recently tackled.

Analyst Patrick Moorhead stated, "The challenge is figuring out what that [100m licenses sold] actually means. It doesn't mean that there are that many devices out the door."

According to the analytics firm, copies of Windows 8 sold to OEMs make up the bulk of the 100 million licenses sold. However, the 100 million mark excludes copies of Windows 8 sold to the enterprises as part of the volume licensing agreement.

Moorhead estimates that only 59 million Windows 8 devices are actually in use. That means that a little less than half of all of those 100 million licenses sold that Microsoft likes to brag about our sitting in a warehouse somewhere unused.

"How many Windows 8 PCs have sold and are being used?" asked Moorhead, arguing that that was a more accurate representation. "No specific news from Microsoft [on that] is bad news, because if it was good news, Microsoft would be shouting it at the top of their lungs. Instead, Microsoft is thinking they don't want to be persecuted over the number, so they're not saying anything."

Since Microsoft won’t offer specific numbers on how many computers have been activated running Windows 8, the estimate was based on data collected from analytics firm Net Applications.
Windows 8 currently accounts for 4.2% of all Windows PCs according to data collected by the company. The entire Windows ecosystem consists of 1.4 billion machines meaning that 58.6 million are likely to use Windows 8.

Source: Computerworld

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"Wild inaccuracies. . ."
By SoCalBoomer on 5/13/2013 4:22:12 PM , Rating: 5
Coming up with a number in the face of Microsoft's refusal to divulge activation data risks wild inaccuracies.

While I don't believe that 100M is the number of active licenses, I do believe there is a reasonable explanation. Since MS doesn't sell computers (aside from the Surfaces) a large number of those licenses are always in the pipeline. That's the way it worked with Win7, with XP, with Vista, with all versions.

The company doing the statistics is using web reporting, which is flawed. It measures only those visiting its reporting sites. It also measures only those that are reporting their information accurately (mine don't - scripting is turned off)

In addition,
the firm massages its raw data
which always leads me to be suspicious - weighting the data by country of origin. . . why?

Not that I use Win8 much (it's on one machine - a Dell XPS12Duo, where it's appropriate and works well) and don't really care. But I HATE articles that are misleading like this - propagating misleading articles themselves.

RE: "Wild inaccuracies. . ."
By max_payne on 5/13/2013 4:46:06 PM , Rating: 2
To have a better idea, a more reliable source I believe will be They have cookies on about every machine in the world! They have a nice site which you can see informative figures. In the US, windows 8 usage is 3.34% (from Nov 2012 to April 2013). Worldwide, it is 2.88% while 7 is 53%.

RE: "Wild inaccuracies. . ."
By Solandri on 5/13/2013 5:10:25 PM , Rating: 2
Statcounter only counts hits, they don't correct for unique visitors. This distinction has been abused in the past by iPhone proponents who look at data only from sites which count unique visitors, and (wrongly) conclude that the iPhone has a huge lead and Android users only casually browse the web. When statcounter shows that Android traffic has exceeded iPhone traffic since 2011, meaning that in fact it is the iPhone users who only casually use the web. Most of the hardcore users who browse the web on their phone are on Android.

Anyway, in this case you want it the other way around. You want to count unique visitors to see how widely Win 8 has been adopted.

RE: "Wild inaccuracies. . ."
By max_payne on 5/13/2013 7:00:11 PM , Rating: 2
That's an interesting point. This is their reasoning behind that ;

RE: "Wild inaccuracies. . ."
By kingmotley on 5/13/2013 5:27:30 PM , Rating: 2
Statcounter isn't a very popular service. It only tracks 50 million page views a month, which is pretty darn small.

RE: "Wild inaccuracies. . ."
By Schmide on 5/13/2013 5:48:12 PM , Rating: 3
Yet more than large enough...

Using statical sample size calculations

E = Sqrt[(N - n)x/n(N-1)]
n = N x/((N-1)E2 + x)
x = Z(c/100)2r(100-r)

N = population size > 20k
r = 50% responses you are interested in
c = 95% confidence

blah blah blah

Min samples needed for confidence of 95% +- 5% = 377

RE: "Wild inaccuracies. . ."
By Mint on 5/13/2013 7:07:24 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, if you're doing truly unbiased random samples.

There's no way for statcounter to ensure that.

RE: "Wild inaccuracies. . ."
By Schmide on 5/13/2013 8:02:43 PM , Rating: 2
Every sample has a bias Dude, that's the nature of the beast.

The issue was how many samples do you need to quantify the confidence factor. The above holds true for even the most biased sample.

RE: "Wild inaccuracies. . ."
By Mint on 5/14/2013 11:22:55 AM , Rating: 2
The issue was how many samples do you need to quantify the confidence factor. The above holds true for even the most biased sample.
Of course it doesn't. Biased sampling makes that calculated confidence interval completely meaningless. Go look at the assumptions in the derivation of the formulae you used.

Looking at all the hits to a particular set of websites is clustered sampling. On top of that, how you chose those websites is prone to bias as well.

RE: "Wild inaccuracies. . ."
By Schmide on 5/14/2013 4:22:06 PM , Rating: 2
I really don't understand your adversity? You seem to poo poo the data regardless of which type of opposition you choose, lack of samples vs biased data.

Biased sampling makes that calculated confidence interval completely meaningless.

Actually they are completely independent of each other!!!

Regardless of all this there isn't some magical error term that is going to sway these numbers in any dramatic fashion.

RE: "Wild inaccuracies. . ."
By BRB29 on 5/14/2013 7:35:54 AM , Rating: 2
at 15 billion samples, it's more than enough to do 99% confidence.

RE: "Wild inaccuracies. . ."
By max_payne on 5/13/2013 6:46:57 PM , Rating: 2
I think you have it wrong. It's 50 billions page/month.

"In other words we calculate our Global Stats on the basis of more than 15 billion pages views per month, by people from all over the world onto our 3 million+ member sites".

RE: "Wild inaccuracies. . ."
By max_payne on 5/13/2013 6:49:17 PM , Rating: 2
ahhhhh me too, 15 billions pages/month, not 50, sorry.

RE: "Wild inaccuracies. . ."
By dgingerich on 5/13/2013 5:38:06 PM , Rating: 2
Even better explanation:

Business systems are sold with Win8 OEM licenses. The IT department doesn't want to use Win8, but the only way they can get a license for it from MS is to buy a Win8 VL edition license with downgrade rights. So, they're essentially buying two Win 8 licenses and not actually using Win8 on anything.

That's probably where most of the Win8 licenses (and about 90% of the Vista licenses back in the day) that MS reports.

RE: "Wild inaccuracies. . ."
By Varun on 5/14/2013 12:54:11 PM , Rating: 2
Um your business is not very smart if you are buying Windows 8 OEM and Windows 8 VL at the same time. Just do your bulk order with no OS if you are doing VL.

So what I'm saying is you are full of crap.

RE: "Wild inaccuracies. . ."
By Integral9 on 5/14/2013 8:33:37 AM , Rating: 2
You might want to check out your user agent string. I don't believe it requires any scripting and your browser sends it out very early in the communication with each website you visit so that the website can deliver content to you that your browser / device can handle.

RE: "Wild inaccuracies. . ."
By melgross on 5/14/2013 9:59:42 AM , Rating: 2
The data is far better than what Microsoft gives us, which is nothing. They weight the data per country because we do know what percentage of people have computers country by country. We know what the breakdown is by Linux, OS X and Windows. We know the population of the country. And we know how Internet services are country by country.

So by using those, and possibly other factors, they can get a fairly accurate accounting. Sure, there will be one in a million who turn off some minor service such as you do, but that's such a small number, it gets lost in the noise.

that's about right, I guess
By max_payne on 5/13/2013 4:20:07 PM , Rating: 2
W8 adoption is pretty poor then. We knew that MS bragging about licences sold did not equal to licences used. It is pretty easy to find out though by the browser's machine ident on the net. I suspect that if OEM would have had the chance to offer windows 7 as well of 8, windows 8 would have been an epic disaster for Microsoft.

RE: that's about right, I guess
By Mint on 5/13/2013 7:11:44 PM , Rating: 4
What's your frame of reference? You know the activated number for Win7 and Vista?

Steam has Win8 at 12% now, and there's no sign of it slowing down.

RE: that's about right, I guess
By StanO360 on 5/13/2013 7:54:39 PM , Rating: 2
And truly that's not even an accurate assessment. 7 came after a often pilloried Vista (mostly unfairly with the updated version) and still had growth in PC's when 7 came out.

From MS's perspective, how is 8 moving considering there is a large base of static 7 usage? I know it's foreign to most readers on this site, but most people never upgrade the OS on their computer. Businesses that have transitioned to 7 are not going to upgrade and will quite reasonably put 7 on a PC that has 8 on it.

RE: that's about right, I guess
By Mint on 5/14/2013 10:29:49 AM , Rating: 2

Windows 8 sales are affected by a decreasing need for PC replacements, following a very satisfactory OS (unlike 7), the netbook bubble (which contributed to a LOT of Win7 licenses) on a rapid decline, and tablets eating away at PC sales.

Put it all together and it's wholly unreasonable for Win8 to even get close to the Win7 sales trajectory.

RE: that's about right, I guess
By max_payne on 5/13/2013 9:20:30 PM , Rating: 2
What's your frame of reference?

Nov. 2012 to April 2013.

You know the activated number for Win7 and Vista?

I guess you haven't been reading the previous posts.

Steam has Win8 at 12% now, and there's no sign of it slowing down.

Come on man, Steam is for gamer. We are taking about the general population here.

RE: that's about right, I guess
By inighthawki on 5/14/2013 1:09:12 AM , Rating: 2
Come on man, Steam is for gamer. We are taking about the general population here.

What exactly is your point there? That the demographic that is amongst some of the most vocally opposed to the OS has hit 12%? I would be almost certain that the general population has an even higher acceptance rate. Most non power users I've met actually kinda like Windows 8. At least the ones that haven't heard the constant babbling of "how much Windows 8 sucks"

RE: that's about right, I guess
By Strunf on 5/14/2013 7:43:24 AM , Rating: 2
That is incorrect, why would gamers be against win 8 ? from what I've read win 8 is just as good if not better than win 7.

The ones most vocally opposed to win 8 are the ones that prefer the Win 7 interface and these can be gamers, professionals or just about anyone, I don't think there is a specially kind of people that is opposed to win 8 besides maybe the IT professionals cause windows 8 is a mess with its mix of metro/desktop layout.

By inighthawki on 5/14/2013 10:02:33 PM , Rating: 2
Because most PC gamers are fairly technical people and are a lot more computer literate than your average user. This tends to mean they are more likely to be power users with a higher skillset. They might not be in IT but they will tend to know their way around a PC. These are the same people who have also been using Windows for a long time because Windows is the primary PC gaming platform, which means they are more inclined to be resistant to changes in usage patterns, unlike the average consumer.

As a gamer myself I have a lot of friends who are the same. I've tried to convince them to try Windows 8 due to some of the advantages, especially things such as DirectFlip for better full-screen windowed performance. None of them want to hear it and just try to make fun of me for using it and constantly claim how much it sucks.

RE: that's about right, I guess
By Mint on 5/14/2013 10:19:19 AM , Rating: 2
Nov. 2012 to April 2013.
How do you miss the point when I explicitly lay it out for you?

59M activated licenses, assuming it's correct, is a meaningless number until we can compare it with the activated licenses for Vista and 7 during a similar period after their launches. Nobody has given those numbers.

By max_payne on 5/14/2013 4:00:23 PM , Rating: 3
Ok I will do the work for you. Using the same statistical web survey (statcounter global stat), you can set the graph for the same period after w7 release (Nov 2009 - April 2010). After six months, W7 capture almost 10% of the OS worldwide. While in the same period in 2012-13, W8 collect a meagre 2.88%. I agree that there is other factors involved between those periods but it shows a clear picture here, an overwhelming acceptance of w7 which reach 53% of the market after 2.5 years. An active percentage is a better indication then a hard number of sold licences because of the large difference in pc numbers for the last three years.

RE: that's about right, I guess
By Strunf on 5/14/2013 7:55:04 AM , Rating: 3
Win 8 has 12% and grows at the rate of 1% per month, nothing really to brag about, not when you know it's installed on every new PC.

RE: that's about right, I guess
By Mint on 5/14/2013 10:42:04 AM , Rating: 2
No, it's not spectacular, but it's not a failure either.

Still active is the right number to look for.
By n0b0dykn0ws on 5/13/2013 4:21:02 PM , Rating: 2
My father in law bought a new ASUS laptop when we were visiting recently. Naturally it has Windows 8.

He is struggling with it as is, then his Microsoft account has hijacked his Skype account and he's lost all his contacts and his Skype name has changed.

Way to go Microsoft!

The next time we have a while together I will be removing 8 and throwing 7 on.

By V-Money on 5/13/2013 6:07:02 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if the numbers take into account people who activated a Win8 license then stopped using it. For instance my newest laptop came preinstalled with Win8, I gave it a shot for a couple months then switched back to 7. I really just didn't need the headache, I mean there are definitely parts of Win8 that I liked, but Win7 just kind of works for me. I haven't had any problems or issues since I upgraded to 7 and even though it doesn't start up as fast, how often do you really cold boot a laptop.

win 8
By chipmar on 5/14/2013 11:03:37 AM , Rating: 2
I will bet that those stats do not, and cannot count the number of win 8 installations, uninstalled, or like mine, sit unused, on a disconnected hard drive. After, two months, I gave up the brain damage and switched to win 7! Win 8 may work OK on a phone, or tablet, but on a PC it is agony!

RE: win 8
By WinstonSmith on 5/14/2013 1:12:17 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, I've read rave reviews from sources I respect about how great Win8 is on a tablet or phone... but that's where it should stay.

validated licenses
By wallijonn on 5/14/2013 5:02:08 PM , Rating: 2
MS made W7 & W8 where they had to re-new their licenses every 90 days. Therefore they would only need to count the number of licenses renewed over a 90 day period to know exactly how many W8 machines have been validated (minus Enterprise).

RE: validated licenses
By Cheesew1z69 on 5/14/2013 8:03:07 PM , Rating: 1
MS made W7 & W8 where they had to re-new their licenses every 90 days.
Where did you come up with this?

I wonder ...
By jmarchel on 5/13/2013 9:02:16 PM , Rating: 2
I guess, I count for two of those 59 million. Since then however I upgraded Metro crap to windows 7 on my desktop and installed Start8 on my laptop. I wonder how many people like me either upgraded windows 8 to much better Windows 7 or installed third party fix to Windows 8 fatal flaw.

By geekman1024 on 5/14/2013 5:02:42 AM , Rating: 2
and promptly downgraded to Win7.

OS of last 500 web site hits
By WinstonSmith on 5/14/2013 10:05:12 AM , Rating: 2
OS distribution of my site's last 500 hits:

Win7 41.2%
WinXP 17.6%
MacOSX 8.8%
Linux 8.4%
Mobile 7.0%
iOS (iPad) 5.6%
Unknown 4.4%
Win8 3.4%
WinVista 1.8%
Android (tablet) 1.2%
Win8 RT 0.4%
Win2003 0.2%

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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