At the BUILD conference last month, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer boasted about Windows 8's popularity among enthusiasts and businesses. Things may not be quite as rosy as Ballmer suggested, though. According to Paul Thurrott of the eponymous Supersite for Windows, sales of Windows 8 are actually "well below Microsoft’s internal projections."
Thurrott attributes the information to one of his "most trusted sources." The same source also claims Microsoft is blaming PC makers—specifically, their "inability to deliver"—for the disappointing sales. Thurrott sees that finger-pointing as further validation of Microsoft's Surface strategy, as part of which the company is rolling its own software and hardware together and bypassing PC vendors entirely.
I'd be inclined to agree that compelling PCs that make good use of Windows 8's touch capabilities seem to be few and far between. Some of those PCs, like the convertible, Intel-powered HP Envy x2, still aren't available. I don't know if expecting rapid, groundbreaking innovation out of firms like Dell and HP was entirely realistic on Microsoft's part, though—if there's any truth to this rumor.
Thurrott's track record on these things can be a little hit and miss. However, considering the sudden and unexpected departure of Windows chief Steven Sinofsky last week, some internal displeasure about Windows 8 sales definitely doesn't seem unlikely. I suppose we'll have to wait for Microsoft's next quarterly earnings report to see whether the rumor checks out.