So boys and girls, today I would like to ask a question. Commercially, how many licenses of Windows 8 would have to be sold to have Windows 8 be considered a commercial success?.

Based on the feedback so far, we can already say it hasn’t been a critical success.

The mixed (to be charitable) reviews of the Operating System’s UI have made it impossible to call it a critical hit.

So let’s go to numbers.

Windows Vista, sold 128 million licenses in 9 months, or 12 months, if we include the 3-month Express Upgrade cycle that enabled Microsoft to make the 2006/2007 holiday season (Vista was officially released to retail in January 2007, but was available through a coupon beginning in October 2006).

So, Vista sold just over 10 million units per month in the first year. Microsoft then announced 180 million units in August 2008 or 19/22 months after launch, which dropped the average to about 8 million units per month.

The best estimate I could find for Windows Vista had it pegged at selling 384 million licenses in (48 months * 8 million units) until it was discontinued in October of 2010.

That Operating System (Vista) was widely panned and considered a failure by most analysts and the public.

Windows 7 which is seen as wildly successful has sold about 700 million licenses by my estimates which is just below double what Vista did.

It just got me wondering what the criteria for success for Windows 8 will be.

Will it be the hard numbers? It’s not hard to see Windows 8 doing over 300 million licenses given enough time.

Will it be the exact mix of Consumer/OEM/Enterprise sales that determine whether this worked?

Quick refresher:

  • Consumer = Purchased by a consumer
  • OEM = Purchased by a hardware maker (Dell etc)
  • Enterprise = Purchased by an Organization or Business

I’m not sure what the answer to this one is – that’s where you come in.

How many licenses would Windows 8 have to sell to be considered a commercial success?

Use the comments below and tell me how many you think and why.

About the Author

Onuora Amobi is the Founder and VP of Digital Marketing at Learn About The Web Inc. Onuora has more than a decade of information security, project management and management consulting experience. He has specialized in the management and deployment of large scale ERP client/server systems.

In addition to being a former Microsoft MVP and the founder and editor of, he is the CEO of a Pasadena based online marketing education startup - Learn About The Web Inc. ( and The Redmond Cloud (

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  • DCJason

    You are comparing apples and oranges. In the past, when someone upgraded to a new OS, for the most part, all the hardware worked fine. When you upgrade to Win 8, you are missing touch screen function—the uniqueness of Win 8. I’m actually surprised to see the high uptake of Win 8 upgrade licenses. Also, comparing a MS OS upgrade from 10 and 5 years ago isn’t logical. Back then there weren’t millions of tablets (sold by a MS competitor) in the market. Why are all these comparisons being made when Microsoft hasn’t even launched its flagship Surface Pro yet? Surface created lots of interest…and millions of tablet users have purchase it. But all those millions and millions of users with old PCs and laptop are just waiting until Surface Pro comes out. Although other OEMs are selling their Win 8 laptops, none are designed as well as Surface. Let’s revisit this comparison in 3 months when Surface Pro has been on the market a couple of months. All this comparison is a bit premature.

    • george_szubinski

      Excellent observation .. Far more constructive than misnamed Genesis who offers no rational behind a throwaway piece of nonsense

    • Onuora Amobi

      I agree that we should wait until Surface Pro. That will be a bellwether in this discussion.

  • Pat

    I’m thinking 400 million.

    Any less than Vista would be a nightmare.

  • Genesis

    Windows 8 is awful. The new Vista. It won’t be a success. Period

    • REWard


      Windows 8 is the best thing Microsoft has done yet!

      You just do not know anything about it… I am running Win8 on 2 Towers & 1 Notebook & also running a Server 2012, I would not trade any of them for previous versions!!! Speed, Reliability, Compatibility (hardware & software) are unsurpassed, my 2 Towers are over 3 & 4 years old & my Server is over 8 years old (I did not have to upgrade any hardware, video cards or memory on any of them. And they all installed with no issues in less than an hour all of them on cold boot are at the desktops in under 45 seconds or less…

      Agreeing with Jasper42; Numbers of units sold (not the amount made) is the only true measure! They do this with movies; they say the greatest grossing movie ever! Well 10 movie tickets at $8.00 is less gro$$ than 6 tickets at $15.00 (simple math), yet because it made less money, it must be worse!!!

    • Lonesomelurker

      At least Vista was a fully opperating os–Windows Mistake 8 needs all kinds of 3rd party aps just to get it running on a PC—just try watching a blu-ray movie on it

  • Jasper42

    Are you trying to estimate sales based on numbers? What about the price? I cannot remember either Vista or Win7 being flogged off at $44.00.a copy. If you could extrapolate that cost into the overall purchase price of the 3 systems, it would present a totally different result.

    • Onuora Amobi

      FANTASTIC point!

      However the discounts for 8 are temporary…??

      • Pratyush Nalam

        Yes they end on January 31st. They MUST extend the offer!

  • Michael Durham

    1 … it has brought new life to every old laptop / PC I have installed.. time is the only judge. but a major efficient stp forward… just leave out the limitations and overlord controls.. but as operating system.. brilliant

  • Alberto Gorin

    I think ones want to play on a old laptop many
    but a business not many.
    and with new 8.1 or the bleu even less
    cause many don t know how it is working
    so copys or upgrades that are be sold goes to laptops that you as I can play on
    found freeware start menu.

  • Benefits Sykes

    as with all os systems time will tell

  • Dale N Reynolds

    It is already a commercial success and I love it. The uptake will be slower than W7 because of the touch interface. Not everyone is comfortable using it with a mouse. I have found, however, that with a little bit of patience (and breaking the inclination of reaching up to touch a non-touch screen) that is becomes very natural and I am now using it on all of my systems, except for my Windows Media Center. I think that you are being swept away in the torrent of uninformed information from people who would still be using edlin, if given the chance.

    • Onuora Amobi

      Good feedback thanks..

  • Steven Sampson

    Windows 8 has to surpass Windows Vista to be a success. But I believe that it will take longer to achieve the success of Window 7 because of the drastic changes and negative opinions about the OS. However, in the end, it will succeed.

    BTW, I actually love it.

  • Tony R.

    50 million sold, many do not want to learn a new operating system when they are quite comfortable with Windows 7 and others can not upgrade to Windows 8.

  • Paula

    In regards to the number of windows 8 programs sold in order for its success, I think it is too early to tell. I personally just received a new pc with 8 pro and I can tell you I love it. I cannot understand why so many are not happy. It isn’t any different then your touch screen smart phones. It seems to me that people are just scared to try anything new. I have had no problems. I think if your screen doesn’t have touch it isn’t any different than the mouse use on the applications. As far as the number of Apps, they are coming and really how many do you need???? I think it is fear of the newness. I am going to upgrade my non touch lap top to 8 pro also. I have no problems with it at all.

  • Larryalobo

    You need a new type of machine to use Windows 8 properly so it’s not just an upgrade. There are some gadgets just coming out that will let you easily use Windows 8 on a standard computer or gadget that is not touch sensitive or enhanced so we’ll see if that fact changes some people’s minds. There are still tons of XP users who will convert to Windows 7 or 8 depending on what they have to do to enjoy Windows 8 very well and this will happen soon enough. Windows Blue or whatever its called is coming and this may affect Windows 8 performance enough to convince people it is worth it. Windows 8 is changing the face and use of computing and it takes some time to adjust – moving us into different realities (don’t know if they should restore start button or not for convenience) If Windows 8 gets 300-350 million, its a success. It’s Windows 9, 10 that will make the difference in the long run.

  • Mark Bass

    windows 8 is something that was ill Conceived not thought thru and was rushed to market I view it as a failure! Period !

    • AK

      “windows 8 is something that was ill Conceived not thought thru and was rushed to market I view it as a failure! Period !”

      You haven’t said why you consider it a failure. Just saying so doesn’t make it so.

      I have it on a 5 year old laptop, and it works great well with the exception of the Bluetooth and which matters not since I have never used it. I would like to get a Win 8 tablet but not right now since I have enough gadgets as it is.

  • Win8bleh

    We have one Windows 8 laptop in use in our business and it crippled the user. We use a flash based program to access our CRM. It’s one of the many that aren’t working with any browser in Win8. Coupled with the lack of a start menu and clunky downloading, it’s not going to be rolled out here… ever. We’re wiping the drive an installing Win7.

    • Rex King

      Comment, fail. Flash works on win 8 just as it did on previous versions. It is winRT that cant use flash well, but now you can even white list sites, so even that shouldnt stop you. Maybe you should learn to use something before buying it and giving it to a user. What kind of IT department do you cowboys have?

  • Ramanathan

    I had used windows 8 release preview downloaded and installed on the day it was launched…I found windows 8 so good that i downloaded windows 8 pro on the day it was launched i.e. 26th …the OS is very stable, secure , fast and beautiful and it did not pose any steep learning curve as claimed by many so and so that even my 5 year old niece who uses my desktop is quite comfortable with it…i am just unable to understand the un wanted criticisms loaded by many may be it is done for the heck of it…

  • 1stkorean

    every license sold is a license sold no matter how they are counted. if you had 60 million readers how would you count them? I think it is past time to drop this. it is a great piece of work and I for one love it.

  • Bart

    Interesting question. As far as numbers I don’t know but after reading some comments I wanted to add some input.

    Windows 8 works fine with a mouse and keyboard. Sure touch is the in thing but it is not required. When people say it is a touch based OS only it shows they haven’t used it. So they are commenting from the outside looking in critically. Some people criticize Microsoft all the time yet still use it. Go figure.

    If people think they are up to date with XP an 11 year old OS finally updating to Windows 7 a 4 year old OS the are not the ones to consider anything new. They are the type to stay several years behind the latest OS be it 8, 9, 11 or whatever the next few names will be.
    For businesses with one of the Microsoft software license agreements they are already licensed for the upgrade whether they upgrade or not. Do these millions of licenses count?

  • 1stkorean

    this dragging down MS on the number of licenses sold is childish. a license sold is a license sold, meaning somebody paid money for it and it deserves to be counted. if you had 60 million users you woud count everyone no matter where they come from (eg. Korea). i have windows 8 on my laptop and love it, and as soon as the surface pro is available i am getting it too.

  • Fazil RF

    i think already just 60 million licenses least equal of win 7 is my openion

  • stephen bates

    success can really only be measured in one thing inevitably by the people who buy it whichever category you look at there word of mouth sells anything, or in another words what we say to thers determines whether it sells or not and thats why windows 7 sold but not vista because the word for vista was total crud and for windows 7 fantastic. which means that at this moent windows 8 in any format is going sell just slightly higher then vista

  • Superade

    I’m running it on all the systems in my house including media centre (with the free add on) and everything is working very well.
    I guess the criteria for calling it a success compared to vista/7 is different now if MS are going to change to a faster update schedule from here on. We may have to see how soon the next iteration of Windows comes out before we can judge it a success or failure.

  • Rida


  • Alvin49tx

    I wouls say it would be a success at 800 to a billion copies . I think Microsoft has learned from Windows 7 that they should compete for the Apple market by making only two consumer versions and one Enterprise version .With the US goverment adopting Windows 8 and the success of the comercials, I think they will reach that goal in 36 to 42 months . The kids , the twenty something crowds and the Apple phone and Andriod users will adopt it real fast . The older XP generation will take time as they did with Windows 7 . They are so reluctant to change . This operating system even with the early bugs is the future of computing and the sync and Skydive are going to drive smart phone users to it .

  • R.U.Kidding

    Windoze Mistake sucked in my PC , so I took it out . What to do with it ? My vacume cleaner was not working very well–so , I downloaded Win 8 into it . WOW it sucked the deep pile carpet off the hardwood floor and my cat was hanging on for dear life not to get sucked in . Im going to Best Buy to pic up Win 8 pro for my Shop Vac . Maybe pc users can use this trick to increase your sales LOL

  • Shahriar

    Windows 8 sucks on desktop PC. How desktop pc user get benefit from it? do you ever use it on desktop? I think windows 8 is focusing on tablet or touch. But why Microsoft don’t think globally(desktop pc, laptop, tablet, smartphones etc)

    • Bart

      Windows 8 works great on a desktop. The mouse and keyboard can do anything that touch does. The ones they say it is not true have never used it.

  • Paul

    I have1a XP Pro/Vista desktop converted to Win 7 Pro, a yr old laptop w/ Win 7 Pro & a new desktop upgraded to Win 7 Pro from win8 pro. I just started with Win7 last year, could not get Win 7 Pro, when I was ready to buy a new desktop. Computer OSs are like vehicles, minimum 1st service pack, or 2nd year for a big vehicle model change, to clear the major faults first. BTW the Vista never got installed on the old desktop.