Shares of Microsoft were down 0.59% to $37.39 in early New York trading.
The Windows 8 operating system was officially released to manufacturers in August 2012 and then the public on Oct. 26, 2012.
Back in January 2013, Microsoft announced it sold more than 60 million licenses for its radically updated operating system software. And then on May 7, 2013, sales reportedly topped 100 million copies. Since then Microsoft has had little to say about Windows 8 sales, until now.
On one hand, the numbers are impressive. Selling 200 million copies (that's more than 365,000 per day) of any software title is a very good thing. But when you look back at Microsoft's last OS, Windows 7, you see better numbers. Windows 7 sold more than 240 million copies in a year at its peak and is still selling millions of copies today. That's despite the existence of Windows 8.
There are a number of reasons for this. First was rise of millions of consumers switching to smartphones and tablets and therefore Apple (AAPL - Get Report) iOS and Google (GOOG - Get Report) Android devices. These days the more portable the better.
But Microsoft's decision to change the way Windows 8 works was the main reason. Instead of greeting users with the familiar one big Window view of personal computing, Windows 8 presented the world with a horizontal series of small boxes. That forced Windows fans to learn a new way of dealing with their computers or find the way back to the Windows interface they had used and loved for years.
Confusion over two versions of the OS, the new Windows RT and the full-featured Windows Pro, didn't help the situation.
Since the release of Windows 8, Microsoft has been hard at work adjusting the software to help make it more appealing. The first major update was released in October 2013.. Windows 8.1 introduced a number of improvements as well as the return of the "Start" button and the option to have the familiar Windows interface appear when the computer is first turned on.
Microsoft is said to be ready to release another update -- "Windows 8.1 Update 1" -- within the next few weeks. The update is expected to make it even easier for users to hide the boxy "Metro" screen and just deal with the Windows interface. It reportedly also will add improvements including making the system easier to navigate for keyboard and mouse users and traditional, non-touchscreen PCs.
It's believed the next major overhaul, Windows 9, will arrive sooner than originally expected. Current thinking has the operating system beta being released sometime this spring with the final release version heading to manufacturers before Thanksgiving.
-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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