Microsoft: 240M Windows 7 licenses sold since launch

Tomorrow, Windows 7 will celebrate its first birthday. Microsoft kicked off the party a little early this morning, posting an announcement filled with hype and endorsements—plus the news that, so far, “more than 240 million” Windows 7 licenses have been sold.

Is that a lot? Well, as we told you back in ’08, Microsoft managed to sell over 100 million Windows Vista licenses during the first year of availability. Windows XP sold about 89 million licenses during its first year.

Since the PC industry is a perpetually growing beast, one must look at the numbers above within the context of PC shipments to compare them fairly. Let’s look at XP vs. Win7 first, since both OSes came out in late October of their respective launch years. Gartner reported 132.4 million PCs shipped in 2002, the year after XP’s release, and it expects PC shipments to hit 367.8 million in 2010. Ergo, Windows XP sales were equivalent to 67% of 2008 PC shipments, while Win7 sales should work out to 65% of 2010 PC shipments.

Making a direct comparison with Vista is harder, since that OS came out in late January of 2007. If we throw caution to the wind and match up the 100 million Vista licenses sold during the first year with the 264 million PCs shipped in ’07, however, we get a much lower figure—only 38%. Yes, it looks like Windows 7 is proving more popular than Vista was. You heard it here first, folks!

Comments closed
    • Krogoth
    • 9 years ago

    Never understood the problems with Vista.

    Almost all of the common ones were not its “fault”.

    Older programs that didn’t work correctly under a LUA and immature drivers. The vast majority of them were solved by SP1.

    I think most of the rage from enthusiast came from people who jump onto 8800 bandwagon + Vista (late-2007). Nvidia’s Vista drivers for the 8800 series were clearly in alpha/beta status. This crowd put the blame on their favorite scapegoat (MS). The XP luddites use this rage as additional fuel for their own set of rants. On the bottom of the list there were the IT people who had to deal with pains of older programs and platforms that refuse to work under LUA.

    Average Joe got confused by the massive FUD.

      • swaaye
      • 9 years ago

      So, umm, as long as you didn’t do much of anything with Vista for about a year, or have an NV video card, it was an amazing piece of software from day one.

      I don’t think that’s how an OS is or should be judged. OSs have an ecosystem around them. MS didn’t make sure the backwards compatibility was bulletproof enough, which was stupid because that’s their bread and butter. I don’t know if they did but they should have jumped on that NV problem because it affected millions of people and it was affecting their product as much as NV’s.

      I do remember some hotfixes around when Crysis came out that fixed some significant flaws in the OS for gaming. Like 940105, for example. Oops, I guess.

      One really ugly aspect to the ordeal were the shitty OEM PCs without enough RAM and slow HDDs that made Vista a really horrible experience. That is a combination of MS’s fault and the OEM’s. Switching to XP literally turned those molasses machines into speedy computers.

      I didn’t really think it was that bad, but I also didn’t think it was really worthy of moving to for any particular reason. Windows 7 is obviously a very similar OS but with gobs of fixes and streamlining and definitely makes Vista look like garbage IMO.

    • NeXus 6
    • 9 years ago

    I’m not surprised. XP is getting near Win9x status and Vista just doesn’t matter anymore. Vista was promoted badly and had the usual growing pains of a new OS. It got better after SP1, but by then nobody cared and had either gone back to XP or was waiting to upgrade from XP to Win7.

      • swaaye
      • 9 years ago

      They’re gearing up for that next 240M copies when Windows 8 comes in about a year or so and makes Windows 7 irrelevant too. 😀

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    I still work on a few Vista boxes and Microsoft did a great job in marketing Windows 7 as the -[

      • flip-mode
      • 9 years ago

      Correct. People never believe it when I say this but I actually have MORE compatibility problems and buggy issues with Windows 7 than with Windows Vista. Windows Vista was a smoother ride for me. /dons flame suit

        • Meadows
        • 9 years ago

        I can only agree with this man.

          • no51
          • 9 years ago

          Not moving away from Vista until they bring the sort bar back.

          • Ryu Connor
          • 9 years ago

          What’s sad was the nerd rage of some enthusiasts unleash at the mere mention that Win7 is Vista with another Service Pack. Hint: It is. Every under the hood change could be ported to Vista in an SP.

          Even Axeman below (#12) carries on the myth about Vista being piggier than 7. SuperFetch never was understood and the VSS can be adjusted to a lower value freeing up all that HD space people freak out about. These minor changes are exactly what 7 did.

          Welcome to reality folks, the old thing you hate *is* the new thing you love.

            • Voldenuit
            • 9 years ago

            You’re neglecting the state of Vista at launch.

            Don’t forget that at launch, Vista had issues like massively understating system requirements, resulting in OEM PCs that were slow and unresponsive. Crashes were frequent (at least part of the blame has to go to 3rd party drivers, but the end user doesn’t care). Application performance was abysmal and UAC was incredibly intrusive and inconvenient (sometimes a single action can spawn multiple UAC requests). Battery life was poor. And a lot of people cared back then about the death of hardware accelerated audio.

            Fast forward to SP2, and performance had improved to the point where it was as fast or faster than XP in many apps and games. It didn’t crash as much anymore (both these improvements were probably due mostly to nvidia getting their act together). Since everyone had stopped using EAX, the loss of hardware audio didn’t hurt as much anymore, and UAC was streamlined to be slightly less annoying.

            Windows 7 was pretty much the same with the addition of some UI tweaks, an even less intrusive UAC, and the return of multiple WDDM drivers (a feature that had been around since NT4). But it was a darn sight better than Vista at launch.

            Similarly, my experience of XP-64 bit at the start of its life until I replaced it as my main desktop OS a year ago could not be more polar.

            When people criticise Vista, they usually criticise it pre-SP1, and Microsoft should rightfully bear the slurs for the state (and ecosystem) they released the operating system in.

            • Krogoth
            • 9 years ago

            Hardware accelerated audio was already dead by Vista’s release. It was dropped for a reason.

            The only people who gave a fuss were people running legecy games with EAX.

            • Ryu Connor
            • 9 years ago

            q[

            • no51
            • 9 years ago

            I like how enthusiasts have the thickest nostalgia goggles on for XP. I remember is as a bloaty, crashy Win2K until SP2. I still have Win98SE on a VM to keep reality in check.

            • packfan_dave
            • 9 years ago

            Well, I guess if XP was Win2K with a UI refresh, some more time for hardware makers to write drivers on a new model, and mostly minor upgrades otherwise (which it pretty much is), then you can say the same about Win7 and Vista.

      • axeman
      • 9 years ago

      It does seem Windows 7 improved on the resource hogging though. As far as compatibility and stability, there doesn’t seem to be much difference.

      • alex666
      • 9 years ago

      I agree. I installed Vista fairly early on a fresh build and had few problems. This was well before SP1. I always was curious about all the problems people reported. Sure, some programs were incompatible, but it was a new OS. The SPs cleaned it up even more. I have a 64 bit version on a laptop.

      I like W7 and rarely have problems. But it almost seems like the final version of Vista.

      All those positive statements about Vista notwithstanding, MS should still roast in hell for a while for minimizing the hardware requirements for Vista. They shot themselves in the foot big time. And many of their DX10 claims were blatant lies IMHO.

        • flip-mode
        • 9 years ago

        q[

      • PetMiceRnice
      • 9 years ago

      I bought a new laptop in the summer of 2009 (which I’m using right now) with Vista on it. I wasn’t sure what to expect after all the negative stuff I’d heard about Vista, but it’s turned out to be very solid for me. It might have been different if I’d gotten it before Service Pack 1 came out, but I can’t complain about my experience with Vista.

      • paulWTAMU
      • 9 years ago

      the only problems we had with vista were because we have software that will only work on XP (not older, nor newer; thou shalt use XP only). That sort of stupidity isn’t microsoft’s problem

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    Well, Win7 was good enough to bring me back from the Mac, so I have to say I believe it.

      • axeman
      • 9 years ago

      I have to say that while Windows 7 is marginally better than Vista, the aesthetics of every version of Windows is terrible. It still feels like an ancient OS, if that makes any sense. It’s really hard get too exited about a new skin on the same old garbage, like the same old tired design of MMC consoles for everything in the control panel with slightly updated icons and fonts. On the usability front, it’s probably worse. Windows 7 “fixed” things like the display control panel Vista turned into a convoluted mess, it’s still not terrible good, we’re happy since it’s less dumb than Vista. They “fixed” hiding the shutdown command in a menu behind a meaningless widget, but “fixed” it further by not asking for user confirmation, so now I get to accidentally shutdown if I’m not careful enough. The simplest things in Windows are such a mess compared to Mac and even many Linux desktop environments. We would be so much more aware of this if most of us weren’t so used to the terrible “standard” Windows sets with usability. Windows 7 isn’t 1 step forward and 2 back, but it feels like 2 forward and one back.

      Why do you think iOS sales are through the roof? Simple, intuitive interface (for the most part). I haven’t seen Windows Phone 7 yet, I hope it is a big step forward, we really need it. Microsoft’s previous efforts at mobile computing show how really inept they are, they have the resources to do whatever they want, yet creating a platform that people *want* to buy into, rather than something they’re pretty much already locked into, isn’t something they have a lot of experience with.

        • Synchromesh
        • 9 years ago

        Please. The fact that they didn’t rework interface completely is a good thing, not a bad one. Otherwise, people coming from XP and Vista would have to relearn everything yet again. It took me mere hours to get comfortable with 7 after using XP for 8 years.

        W7 is also the reason I’m not going all OS X on my systems. I think it has its flaws and good sides but overall it is not worse than OS X for even a power user.

          • axeman
          • 9 years ago

          The fact they refuse to rework things more is why I think Windows 7 isn’t that great. What they do change is almost inevitably half baked. Windows 7 just fixed some of the obvious flaws with Vista, and that’s not enough. Apple started compositing windows on the GPU in 2002. Windows added this in Vista, except Microsoft’s version doesn’t really do anything useful except make it look pretty, while requiring a lot more from the hardware. Now with Windows 7, they made it a little better, but still hasn’t caught up to the feature the competitors have, not even close. I don’t think Windows 7 is terrible, it is a worthy successor, but somehow feels stale despite being new. The 90% market share Windows enjoys is mostly about the path of least resistance, not because Windows is doing anything special, Windows 7 is enough to stop Microsoft’s marketshare from eroding, but I doubt it’s good enough to win much back.

            • Voldenuit
            • 9 years ago

            Things windows 7 has that OS X doesn’t:
            * TRIM
            * ‘more’ 64-bitness (no need for 64 bit applications to launch 32 bit windows via a separate process – not sure if they’ve fixed this in Lion yet)
            * Aero Snap/Peek
            * Jump Lists
            * Powershell (better than OSX Terminal)

            Things OSX has that windows 7 doesn’t:
            * Moar battery life
            * Exposé
            * Spaces

            I’d say it’s hard to definitively put one OS ahead of the other. OSX is notably lacking TRIM support, but on the other hand, it’s so much better at conserving battery life it’s not funny. They’re both a lot more usable than 95/XP or System 7/8 was, that’s for sure.

          • TEAMSWITCHER
          • 9 years ago

          I’m a Windows developer who uses a mac. I switch back and forth between to the two environments daily to do different tasks. I can tell you without any hesitation that Snow Leopard is superior.

          Windows is a very click-happy OS and the system dialogs are overly complicated. The UI looks nice, but not better than OS X. Development-wise, Windows is train-wreck of technology. The system registry is a stupid idea 15 years old an counting. There are worthless and confusing file junctions to support legacy applications. Important folders like ProgramData are hidden by default, just like file extensions. .NET has become just as difficult to support as the different versions of Windows. WPF is rendered worthless by all the cheap Windows notebooks that have crappy Intel graphic processors. The Global Assembly Cache is the final nail in the coffin, after 15 years of failure, developers still have to put all their stuff in one place, well two, now that we have .NET 4.0 and it’s own GAC.

          I’m sorry for the negativity but Windows is the bane of my existence.
          Macs are selling well for a reason…They Are Better!

        • WaltC
        • 9 years ago

        /[

          • axeman
          • 9 years ago

          What I mean is sales of one are increasing at a faster rate. I’d hope with 90% of the market Windows is still selling a lot of copies. If we look up some web stats for OSes that client machines visiting websites are running year after year, Windows is slipping while both OS-X and iOS are gaining.

            • WaltC
            • 9 years ago

            There aren’t any iOS computers out there…;) Yes, OS X may be gaining in the sense that its share of the world market last quarter was 3.6%, a purported gain of .3% from the quarter before–but the world-wide share for the Mac OS, any Mac OS, has been <5% for at least the last 20 years. So really, there’s almost no growth at all taking place.

      • jackbomb
      • 9 years ago

      Win95 brought me back from the Mac. Win7 just makes me proud to be a PC. And best of all it was my idea!

      *does a tongue push up*

    • ClickClick5
    • 9 years ago

    We had a Microsoft rep come in today to show off the Windows Phone 7 platform. (Not Windows 7 Phone, as he says)

    Talk about cool. Prototype phones, thirty min of phone play time…

    Today is much better than yesterday!

    He also talked about the sales of 7.
    (the phone was cooler)

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 9 years ago

      2 more weeks here in the US…

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    opps……….

    • flip-mode
    • 9 years ago

    I wish you wouldn’t even publish Microsoft’s bogus numbers Cyril. They padded with Windows XP “downgrade” sales and we all know it, so why publish bad data?

      • ludi
      • 9 years ago

      What do you estimate the impact of that “padding” to be?

      • BKA
      • 9 years ago

      Somehow I don’t believe “downgrades” from Win 7 to XP were any where near what Vista “downgrades” to XP were. In my experience since Windows 7 has been release no one I have worked with wanted XP over Windows 7. All new PC’s replacements we have done have used Windows 7 at work. We skipped Vista all together besides labs and many, many Vista licenses went unused.

        • cycomiko
        • 9 years ago

        What about the experiences with my latest work box. Arrived with Win7, down (and i do mean down) graded to XP and now upgraded to Vista. By some point in the next year the circle will be complete and I will be on Win7.

          • BoBzeBuilder
          • 9 years ago

          Seek therapy.

          • BKA
          • 9 years ago

          So you went from Win 7>XP>Vista? I’m guessing it had to do with program compatibility?

          • khands
          • 9 years ago

          We got downgrades and actually intend to use the 7 upgrade disks later.

        • Sahrin
        • 9 years ago

        You understand that any “downgrades” from 7 to XP actually earn *more* profit for MS (because there’s no usage, no support cost, etc)?

        In addition, the represent people that are so happy with the platform that they prefer not to change – even to a newer version of the platform.

        I don’t see how either of these facts represent something bad for MS.

          • indeego
          • 9 years ago

          It probably costs Microsoft more money to support XP than 7. There are fewer built in tools available, it’s more susceptible to malware, it requires legacy trainingg{.}g IE9 isn’t on it, so now Microsoft has to support 4 browsers across 10+ platformsg{<. <}g

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 9 years ago

          That’s a bit of a stretch. What real numbers absolutely would represent is a bunch of businesses still sticking with XP for cost and/or compatibility reasons, despite MS’ efforts to push “XP compatibility mode.”

          • flip-mode
          • 9 years ago

          I’m not saying its “bad” for MS, I’m saying it gives a false impression of Windows 7 sales, which seems rather relevant in a news story pimping Windows 7 sales.

            • ludi
            • 9 years ago

            Your exact words were, “Microsoft’s bogus numbers”. If you have that level of confidence that the data are misleading, then presumably you have data to support it, as opposed to speculation. So what is your estimate?

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 9 years ago

            It’s over 9,000!

            • flip-mode
            • 9 years ago

            I estimate that I’m confident that Microsoft’s press release about Windows 7 sales figures includes Windows 7 sold with Window XP downgrades, which is just a way of restating Windows XP sales as Windows 7 sales. Wake up, you.

            §[<http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9179109/Microsoft_extends_Windows_XP_downgrade_rights_until_2020<]§

            • ludi
            • 9 years ago

            But 240 million is an awfully big number. Therefore, a significantly big number of those licenses would have to be subsequently downgraded for the numbers to be “bogus” or even “misleading”.

            The only way I can see that being true is if large corporate customers were rolling back their boxen for standardization and/or compatibility purposes…except those customers normally buy on a business account from, say, Dell and are offered XP right out of the factory, precisely because there was so much blowback over Vista.

            Again: Do you have some relevant figures available for inspection that back up your claim?

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 9 years ago

            “Out of the factory” still has a Windows Vista Business or 7 Professional sticker on it, though.

            • ludi
            • 9 years ago

            The 6-month-old Dell on my desk sure doesn’t. Our IT department buys direct from Dell and the machines, both desktop and mobile, ship with a bare drive and a FreeDOS CD. IT then images a disc that includes XP along with our complete CAD, Office, and engineering software suites and pulls clean license keys out of inventory for the programs that don’t share network keys.

            We’re somewhat of a special case because IT is managing several million bucks’ worth of software that doesn’t always play well with the newest versions of Windows, hence the clinging to XP. But, for that same reason, we are not ratcheting up the Win7 downgrade count. Every Windows license that IT purchases and adds into the pool is an XP license right up front.

            • flip-mode
            • 9 years ago

            Let me rephrase what I assert as the problem: since Microsoft doesn’t specify how many of those Windows 7 sales included a Windows XP downgrade, the company’s numbers are worthless. It’s illogical to me that you demand that I provide a specific number rather than recognizing the fundamental problem.

            • ludi
            • 9 years ago

            I don’t have any basis to believe the number is that far off the mark. Only Microsoft would have full access to the complete data, so they’re the only source that can claim to have a complete number; Microsoft can’t outright fabricate the absolute numbers, as that would have implications with the SEC; and I can’t construct a scenario where some large portion of Win7 licenses were purchased and then downgraded, so…

            • d0g_p00p
            • 9 years ago

            240 million seems small to me. I work at Bayer Pharmaceuticals and our Windows install base is around 5+ million for Win7 licenses. I see that number as being somewhat legit. I am sure MS pads numbers just like Apple does with it’s 10,000+ trillion apps downloaded specs.

            I know I see way more Win7 installs around campus than I do XP and that change happened pretty recently.

            • Drewstre
            • 9 years ago

            All due respect, Mr. p00p, but 5+ million Windows licenses? Bayer’s annual report puts their total roster at about 110,000 skulls as of Dec. 31 of last year. You deftly claim these 5,000,000+ licenses as merely “Windows”, not specifically Windows 7, as the conversation might warrant. But even if that figure were to include family members, friends, and even mere acquaintances, I highly doubt all of these folks combined have 5,000,000+ fingers, much less Windows OSes installed.

            Unless my sarcasm meter is out of tune. In that case, screw you guys, I’m going home.

            • d0g_p00p
            • 9 years ago

            Global licenses. There are obviously more machines then people, including the various research labs…

            I have no idea why I am even commenting back to you.

            • Drewstre
            • 9 years ago

            I meant no disrespect, d0g_p00p. That figure just seemed quite high. Roughly 50 licenses per employee just seems… excessive, even for research. But having never worked at a large research facility, I suppose it’s feasible. My apologies for any perceived snark.

      • ManAtVista
      • 9 years ago

      Never any kind of proof or numbers to back up these claims, we’re just supposed to believe millions upon millions of “sensible” users are downgrading from Vista, and 7 to XP. I’ll tell you something, it wasn’t true when Vista was launched, it’s not true now of 7.

      Look at the number of computers in the world (commonly reported at around 1.2B), now take the Windows 7 (or Vista) sales numbers, and
      get the precentage of computers that are Win 7 (240M/1.2B*100), you get around the same number as web statistics firms like net applications and stat counter (wikipedia’s OS market share article is a good place for these numbers) report for Windows 7 installs (worked out for Vista as well back when MS last released Vista sales numbers.)

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 9 years ago

        It is true without any numbers backing it purely for the simple fact that large corporations buy equally large volumes of computers and just stick to whatever it is they have been sticking with.

        Protip: Vista Business and 7 Professional have downgrade licenses for a reason.

        Your own opening statement defeats the point you are trying to make. There are no numbers. Anything is questionable without numbers to prove otherwise.

          • ManAtVista
          • 9 years ago

          My point was not that there are no numbers, but that there are no numbers to support the propaganda of massive downgrades, the numbers are quite available to anyone who wants to spend five minutes at wikipedia.

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