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Microsoft: 100 million Win8 licenses sold, Windows Blue is coming

Cyril Kowaliski
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How’s Windows 8 selling? About as well as Windows 7 did three years ago, judging by numbers posted this morning on the official Windows blog.

According to Microsoft, 100 million Windows 8 licenses have been sold to date. That figure includes both OEM copies and upgrades. And an old ZDNet story I dug up on Google says Windows 7 hit the 100-million milestone on April 27, 2010. Since Win7 and Win8 launched almost exactly three years apart, that gives us a pretty good basis for comparison.

Now, this is the part where I’d normally point out that PC shipments go up every year, and matching sales numbers from three years ago is no great accomplishment. But, well, the reality is a little different. According to Gartner, PC shipments grew 13.8% in 2010, but they increased only 0.5% in 2011 and declined 3.5% in 2012. Also, shipments suffered the biggest decline ever last quarter. Considering the situation, keeping up with past records is probably a commendable feat for Microsoft.

In related news, the same blog post that discusses those sales numbers also includes some Windows Blue teasers. Here’s the skinny, straight from Microsoft marketing and finance chief Tami Reller:

Tami Reller: Windows Blue is a codename for an update that will be available later this year, building on the bold vision set forward with Windows 8 to deliver the next generation of tablets and PCs. It will deliver the latest new innovations across an increasingly broad array of form factors of all sizes, display, battery life and performance, while creating new opportunities for our ecosystem. It will provide more options for businesses, and give consumers more options for work and play. The Windows Blue update is also an opportunity for us to respond to the customer feedback that we’ve been closely listening to since the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT. From a company-wide perspective, Windows Blue is part of a broader effort to advance our devices and services for Microsoft.

In a separate interview with The Verge, Reller also teased the return of the Start button, and she said the first wave of smaller-sized Windows 8 tablets will run the current version of the operating system. However, she added, "Blue does a nice job of optimizing for those small screen form factor sizes."

Reller didn’t address release timing, but the latest whispers from the rumor mill suggest Windows Blue will hit release-to-manufacturing status in August. Since Windows 8 went RTM in the same month last year, Blue could conceivably come out on Windows 8’s one-year anniversary in October.

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