We're still waiting for figures comparing Windows 8's post-launch uptake to that of previous releases. November numbers aren't out yet, and October data doesn't tell us a whole lot, since Windows 8 didn't come out until October 26.
However, one can already find out how Windows 8's pre-launch popularity stacks up. The folks at ComputerWorld went ahead and did just that, crunching data from Net Applications to see which of the past three Windows releases was most popular just before its retail debut.
Windows 7 wins out by a fairly substantial margin. By the end of October 2010, a whopping 2.33% of users across sites monitored by Net Applications were using that OS. Windows 8 is a distant second, with a usage share of only 0.45% at the end of October 2012. Interestingly, however, Win8 is still well ahead of Vista. By the end of January 2007, only 0.19% of Internet users were running the ill-fated OS.
Now, as ComputerWorld points out, this isn't a totally fair comparison. Both Win7 and Win8 hit in stores in the second-to-last weeks of their launch months, while Vista came out on January 30, 2007. Win7 and Win8 were also buoyed by pre-holiday sales, unlike Vista. Still, if this information tells us anything, it's that Windows 8 might prove more popular than Vista.
That's good to know, considering early information suggests Windows 8 sales aren't quite as high as some hoped. Rumor has it sales are below Microsoft's targets, and a Newegg executive commented on retail sales last week, saying Windows 8 "did not explode, as I think you know, coming out of the gate."