Microsoft: Windows 7 beat expectations

Analysts agree, but offer caveats about tablets and the long life of Windows XP

On the eve of the first anniversary of Windows 7's launch, Microsoft today said the operating system has exceeded its expectations.

Analysts agreed that Windows 7 has been a success, especially after the lukewarm reception customers gave its predecessor, Vista, but cautioned that Microsoft's fundamental philosophy about operating systems may mean trouble down the road.

"I think Windows 7 has exceeded expectations," said Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft's general manager of Windows product management, in a statement the company issued today.

"We were in such a bad place economically," she added, referring to the recession that dampened computer purchasing in 2008 and 2009. "I didn't know how that was going to play out. I was nervous. But I feel really good about how it's all turned out."

Microsoft boasted today that it has sold more than 240 million Windows 7 licenses to date, an increase of 65 million since it last touted numbers three months ago during a quarterly earnings call.

The 65 million licenses sold in the last 90 days translates into a pace of 8.35 licenses sold per second, slightly down from the 9.97 licenses per second sold during a 29-day stretch from June 23 to July 21, 2010.

"I'm pretty impressed with Windows 7," said Michael Cherry, an analyst with Kirkland, Wash.-based Directions on Microsoft, a research firm that specializes in tracking Microsoft's moves. "It repaired a lot of things that got off track with Vista, so yes, it has exceeded my expectations."

Well, almost, added Cherry.

"If there's one thing that has not met expectations, it's that Mr. Ballmer keeps saying that it's Microsoft's tablet OS," Cherry said. "I have a fundamental issue with the two approaches [to tablets] that Microsoft and Apple have. The Windows 7 tablet approach is that all the apps that people would want on their desktop, they also want on a tablet.

"Apple says, no they don't," Cherry continued, giving Apple the nod as the smarter philosophy.

"It's hard to say that Windows 7 is not a hit," echoed Michael Silver, an analyst with Gartner Research. But like Cherry, Silver offered a caveat. "Windows 7 is doing much better [than Vista] but not every license they've shipped is being used, either."

Silver has a point. Microsoft may tout 240 million licenses, but many of those are accounted for by standing agreements that allow enterprises copies of Windows 7 that they may not actually deploy for months, or even years, as they retire older systems running Windows XP.

In fact, with all the success of Windows 7, the nine-year-old XP remains the dominant version of Microsoft's OS by a wide margin.

According to the latest statistics from Web measurement firm Net Applications, Windows 7 owned a 17.1% global usage share in September compared to Windows XP's 60%.

Windows 7 clearly has gotten out of the gate faster than Vista. While the former reached the 17% share mark 12 months after its launch, Vista didn't match that until April 2009, two years and three months after its debut.

If the pace of the last three months' of Windows XP's losses and Windows 7's gains continue, Windows 7 won't pass XP in usage share until the third quarter of 2012, two years from now.

Silver pointed to Windows XP's extraordinary longevity as one reason why Windows 7 hasn't done even better. "Organizations, especially ones that still have IE6 (Internet Explorer 6) are having problems getting all the applications their users need running on Windows 7," Silver said, talking about the aged edition of Microsoft's browser.

That's one reason why enterprise Windows 7 migration plans have gone off-track recently. "We believe that many migrations have slipped six months or so from where organizations had planned," Silver said in an e-mail reply to questions. "However, they continue working and many have dates to have Windows XP out by the end of 2012 or sooner."

Some companies, however, will be hard pressed to divest themselves of Windows XP before Microsoft retires the operating system from all support in April 2014, Silver added.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft sees Windows 7 momentum gaining steam. Even with an on-again, off-again economy, Schuster argued that Windows 7 remains one of the top three projects IT pros are considering. "It's just that important," she said. "That's a good outcome."

But Gartner doesn't rank Windows 7 in its top three, instead listing it as No. 7 in a top 10 list of IT trends earlier this week.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His e-mail address is

Read more about operating systems in Computerworld's Operating Systems Topic Center.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Microsoftoperating systemssoftwarePCsWindowsWindows 7hardware systemslaptopsdesktop pcs

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?