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Brett Nordquist (Customer Experience Engineer)

Comparing Windows 8 to Windows 7 Sales

Written on December 5, 2012 by Brett Nordquist

Last week Microsoft announced sales of Windows 8 licenses have reached 40 million. They provided few details other than adding that most of those were upgrades and that Windows 8 was selling at a faster clip than Windows 7 did three years ago. Of course, this comes several weeks after Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, told a French newspaper that sales of their new Surface tablet, running Windows 8 RT, have gotten off to a “modest” start.

A number of PC builders have chimed in on whether sales of Windows 8 systems have met their expectations. Jeff Barney, VP and general manager of Toshiba America admitted that his company has “different” expectations for Windows 8 because it arrives after the well-received Windows 7 into a market with plenty of alternative options. David Chang, CFO for Asus, said sales of Windows 8 notebooks have been sluggish. “Demand for Windows 8 is not that good right now”, he told the Wall Street Journal.

Even Paul Thurrott, who runs the popular SuperSite for Windows, quoted a “trusted source at Microsoft” that sales of Windows 8 have performed “well below Microsoft’s internal projections”.

So it wouldn’t be a stretch to say opinions vary widely concerning the sales figures and future of Windows 8.

This got us thinking about how many Windows 8 systems we’ve sold compared to those running Windows 7. Keep in mind that as a custom PC shop, our customers dictate sales trends. Unlike some of our competitors, we didn’t stop offering Windows 7 when Windows 8 arrived.

We began offering Windows 8 across our product line the day it become available. The graph below illustrates low but steady adoption of Windows 8. The lack of substantial spike in initial Windows 8 sales shows that our customers are are reluctant to wade into the waters of Microsoft’s newest operating system.


Windows 8 arrives to a PC market of mostly satisfied Windows 7 customers. The conditions under which Windows 7 arrived differed as many Windows XP users had held off moving to Windows Vista due to lackluster reviews and various hardware compatibility issues. Although most were resolved, many users held off buying a new PC until Windows 7 became available. That pent up demand manifested itself in people lining up to buy Windows 7 the day it was released.

We haven’t witnessed the same level of excitement or demand for Windows 8. The removal of the START menu is a deal breaker for many. Some have taken a “wait for Service Pack 1” approach while others plan to stick with Windows 7 even when purchasing a new PC.

In our experience with Windows 8, we haven’t been able to point to a predominant feature that convinces Windows 7 users to upgrade to Windows 8. That doesn’t take away from the fact that Windows 8 includes a number of new features and system tweaks. For example, Windows 8 boots and shuts down faster than Windows 7. This feature alone might make it attractive to laptop users.

Hidden underneath a maze of live tiles, Windows 8 performs much like Windows 7. But those unfamiliar tiles and lack of START menu have been enough to push buyers back into the familiar lap of Windows 7. As touch displays become more affordable, we may see more interest in Windows 8. But it’s still very early to predict how sales will transpire over the next few months.

As you know, we tailor each new computer we build to the needs of our customers. That means offering a choice in operating systems that include Ubuntu Linux in addition to both Windows 7 and 8. As a smaller custom PC builder we aren’t beholden to spiffs or monetary incentives that would line our pockets for pushing our customers towards  certain products. That's just not our style.

At Puget Systems we plan to sell Windows 7 alongside Windows 8 for as long as Microsoft will commit to sell and support it.

Tags: Microsoft, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8
Avatar rgeiken

I have looked at W8, but since I have 2 Windows 7 with i7 processors and 6 gig and 8 gig of ram, I don't seen the necessity of updating. In the past, I have used W95, W98 SE, XP, Vista, and finally W7. W7 is my favorite operating system since it is the best O/S I have ever used from Microsoft. If I were to need to buy a new computer today, I might tend to buy from a custom house just to be able to get W7. I don't have any major knock on W8 except that I don't want to update to it. Just the fact that so many 3rd parties are offering to supply software to give W8 a W7 type interface proves that their currently offering is not quite up to par. The next month will give a truer indication on the reception of W8. I did not buy the $39 update package either. I tried W8 down at the Microsoft Store in Scottsdale, AZ, but saw that it would require a whole new way of addressing the use of a computer. Not in the least impressed with the Surface. Only a Tegra 3 processor and 2 gig of ram did not seem to be enough to provide smooth operation. I had a Netbook that used an Intel N550 a dual core processor with hyperthreading and 1 gig of ram updated to 2, so that would be the equivalent of the Surface. I did not enjoy my ASUS Netbook with W7 on it, so finally converted it to Android 4.0.3 ICS, and enjoyed that enough that I opted to buy a Nexus 10 rather than something like the Surface. I did not try anything difficult on the Surface, but the little that I did seemed to be a pretty good load for the Surface. I bought a custom computer from JNCS in New York in 2007, and it had Vista which worked fairly well except for some knotty problems.  I had a Q6600 Quad Core processor which was top of the line at that time. I also had 4 gig of ram, but selected the 32 bit version of Vista, since I was concerned about the difficulty of getting drivers for the 64 bit version of it. I used it for about 3 years and enjoyed it during that time compared to XP. I have Lenovo's now, but probably might opt for a custom computer next time. I enjoyed how well my JNCS computer was made versus my Lenovo Desktop. I think that W8 may have a long tough slog ahead at least with satisfied W7 users.

Posted on 2012-12-06 15:09:38

As I mentioned, I don't see a lot of people who are currently happy running Windows 7 upgrading to Windows 8. Windows 8 arrived at a time when Microsoft was also releasing their Surface RT along with Windows Phone 8 which made for a lot of new products fighting to be heard in the market. I ran both the consumer and developer preview versions and wasn't planning to run 8 on both my work and home PC, but that's what ended up happening when the final version arrived. It took a few weeks to get used to hitting the Windows key instead of moving my mouse to where the START button used to be. I saved a Windows 7 image making it easy to return if I wanted, but I'm quite happy with Windows 8. My home system feels faster and the boot and shut down times are a substantial improvement over Windows 7. And really, once you're at the desktop, it feels just like Windows 7. If I were to buy a laptop today, no doubt I'd recommended going with Windows 8. But on a traditional desktop, I agree that it might be a tough sell. 

Posted on 2012-12-06 15:43:18
Avatar HP


Thanks for the report. This gives a clearer picture of Win8's appeal vs Win7, since new-PC buyers normally don't get a choice. Would you periodically update the tally and post it here on your blog? Also, it would be helpful if there is a rough indication of the number of systems being counted. Thanks in advance.


Posted on 2012-12-06 16:42:39

Thank you for the kind words. Sure, I'll look at the total again after the first of the year and see if anything has changed. We are looking at some touchscreens and peripherals that are geared towards Windows 8 as well so look for those reviews as well. And just for kicks, maybe I'll look to see how Ubuntu Linux is doing. It does seem like more customers are asking about it. 

Posted on 2012-12-07 09:21:12
Avatar Ocelotty1

Wow, I have Win 8 on 3 PC's - no problems at all. I love the speed bump up over Win 7 & could never imagine going back. Maybe it's just me.

Posted on 2012-12-07 07:01:31

I have it on two computers I use each day and agree. I had planned to return to Windows 7, but I'm glad I worked through the 8 learning curve for the same reasons you mentioned.

Posted on 2012-12-07 09:22:44
Avatar UK Windows User

This sort of analysis doesn't take into account very well the fact that a lot of Windows 7 users are going to opt for the £24.99 downloadable upgrade version.  At that price it is wort it as an upgrade to Windows 7.

Posted on 2012-12-07 10:46:44

We didn't take download upgrades into consideration for at least two reasons: 1. As a customer PC builder, we sell full versions of Windows, not upgrades. 2. Microsoft didn't provide a breakdown on how many of those 40 million licenses were sold to OEMs, downloaded, or sold at retail. 

The goal of our article was to provide insight into what our customers are actually buying since Windows 8 went on sale.

Posted on 2012-12-07 15:07:33
Avatar Pakasia

w8 is basically w7 and lot more , all in one package. i believe performance is stealer on w8.  w8 would be future.

Posted on 2012-12-07 15:02:06

Other than a faster boot and shut down, performance is comparable between Windows 7 and Windows 8. Tom's Hardware recently compared the two in gaming performance and found them nearly identical. http://goo.gl/zyzwY

Posted on 2012-12-07 15:13:41
Avatar Marius Motea

Shutdown is not faster, it only turn off the monitor quicker, but the pc is still running until all servicies are closed. Only the startup is more faster, because is load an image

Posted on 2013-01-27 17:01:22
Avatar Robin Window

Shutdown shuts off my laptop ok so don't know why any others should be different??

Posted on 2013-01-28 12:28:10
Avatar Popmillipede

Brett, do you have comparative data for the first month or two of Windows 7? It would be interesting to see how much of your business switched to Windows 7 right away, but also how much was Vista vs. XP at the time.

Posted on 2012-12-07 15:58:24

That's a great question. Let me do some digging and see what I can find. 

Posted on 2012-12-07 16:03:10

I was able to gather our sales data from January 2009 through May 2010 and chart it. This gives us a good picture of what happened in the months leading up to the launch of Windows 7 near the end of October. Through the summer you'll notice Windows 7 sales picking up steam due to pre-orders, and then crushing Vista in October. Interesting how Vista sales basically disappear by April 2010, yet XP sales continue at a steady pace. 

Posted on 2012-12-08 04:20:37
Avatar Robin Window

Was shocked when I went into PC World yesterday for a look around and ALL PC's and Laptops had Windows 8 on them.
When asked are there any with Windows 7 on their answer was NO.
Being curious I had downloaded the Windows 8 upgrade for £24.95 but NOT before taking an image of my XP setup on my old laptop.(Note I still have Windows 7 on my desktop)
Must admit it does run well even on my old laptop but it is very quirky.
And once you have set up your software shortcuts (sorry.Tiles) on the start screen it is quite good.
If I had to I could live with it but will retain Windows 7 on my desktop I am afraid for as long as I am able to.
Can see it's attraction for tablets etc but for desktops....NO.
Though I suppose all the young finger swiping nerds will like it and thus become more true computer illiterate.

Posted on 2012-12-07 17:53:10
Avatar Don M

I'd like to know who is dumb enough to use a touch display on their desktop. On a tablet or phone, sure it makes sense. On the Desktop, and even on a laptop, it's just more efficient to use a keyboard and mouse. Think about how tired your arm would get from reaching across and swiping on your monitor for a few hours or trying to type on a monitor with a virtual keyboard - it's just absolutely absurd. Hell, I don't even sit within arms reach of my 27" monitor (2560 x 1440 res) and I'll bet most other desktop users don't either.

Posted on 2012-12-11 23:58:06
Avatar spindle

 ya you said it my man im the same way with my deaktop im the kinda guy that likes to stretch out when im on my desktop not the best posture of course this is very simple if you have a desktop keep seven hell its a no brainer i can even download 8 for 14.99 but i have made up my mind to stay with seven and im leary of third party software for start menu etc as far as boot time well come on now what the hell is a extra 20 sec or so i believe most desktop users will stay with seven i have had no problems at alll with it i believe 8 will be a downer for ms.

Posted on 2013-01-12 22:30:28
Avatar Neville

I had my new Puget built with Win 8, just for future proofing.  However, I am very happy with Win 7 on some other machines.  Win 7 is definitely the best OS that MS has ever released, and I've used them all since Dos 2.1 (on a PCjr....!)

I won't rush to upgrade Win 7 machines, but I would put Win 8 on any new machine. I would also go ahead and upgrade Vista and XP machines. I love XP sp3, but it is starting to get tired.  It was also a great OS.


Posted on 2012-12-18 01:25:08
Avatar Robin Window

Thoroughly agree with you Neville, I don't think I will change my main desktop for a while BUT I did purchase the £25 upgrade and risked it on my oldish laptop which I must admit has put some fresh life into it.
Win 8 is a big culture shock but once you get used to the new system and replace the tiles with your software shortcuts/tiles it is not too bad but you do get a bit fed up with having to keep changing screens from the new layout back to desktop all the time and vice versa.
It is certainly more of a touchscreen system than keyboard and mouse but would find that using it without a keyboard very limiting.
Having said that you do get used to switching screens but will stay with Win 7 on my main machine because as you say it is a great and solid system and Win 8 is best suited to tablets and phones but if one knew nothing else I suppose it would seem great to you.

Posted on 2012-12-18 10:37:52