updated 03:35 pm EDT, Mon July 11, 2011
Windows 7 hits 400m milestone but
Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer used his Worldwide Partners Conference keynote on Monday to tout Windows 7's success while trying to downplay the success of the Mac. The most recent OS had now reached 400 million licenses sold, up from 350 million in the winter and still growing faster than XP. He added that there were 350 million new PCs sold in the past year and used the large number, without comparing gains, to argue that Microsoft had no reason to worry about the Mac or Linux.
"350 million, 350 million new PCs sold," Ballmer said. "That might compare with numbers from other guys that are in the 20 million range... now, 20 is too much, but 350 the last time I checked is a lot more than 20."
The majority of those were from Apple, which sold 15.25 million in the past 12 months. Much of the rest is believed to involve Linux and a handful of other open-source distributions.
While an important factor for context, the data also belies the rate of growth seen on each side. Apple stressed in its most recent results that the Mac had been outgrowing the overall computer market every quarter for the past five years and, this year, has been growing even as the field has been shrinking. Microsoft saw a four percent decline in Windows revenue at the start of the year, in part because of a 40 percent drop in netbook revenue as users stopped buying netbooks and bought iPads instead.
The company's Windows marketing lead Tami Reller also acknowledged that corporate adoption wasn't as quick as in the home space. About two thirds of work PCs already in use, or 300 million, were still using the now decade-old Windows XP, she said.
While she didn't provide an explanation, companies are often very conservative with purchasing habits and will wait years for an OS and necessary apps to be established before upgrading. Windows Vista and 7 created more resistance than usual owing both to the negative initial word-of-mouth for Vista as well as compatibility issues that came to a head with 7, which has an XP virtualization mode to placate many of the businesses still running apps made during or before XP's lifetime.
On Windows Phone, Ballmer was more candid and acknowledged the lack of movement in spite of the complete platform reboot. "We've gone from very small to very small, but it's been a heck of a year," he said.