July 13, 2011

Windows 7 Surpasses 400M Licenses

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer on Tuesday praised the widespread adoption of his company's desktop operating system, saying it has now sold more than 400 million Windows 7 licenses.

However, Ballmer acknowledged Microsoft's struggles in the mobile phone market, where the company's market share has gone from "very small to very small" as its new Windows Phone platform is selling fewer devices than Windows Mobile.

Ballmer made the remarks during Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles, where he also urged customers to make the switch from the decade-old Windows XP operating system. 

He warned that as many as two-thirds of PCs worldwide are still running Windows XP, for which support will expire in less than three years.

The adoption of Windows 7, which was released in October 2009, has been faster than for XP, Ballmer said.  Indeed, Windows 7 now powers 27% of all PCs worldwide, according to data from Net Applications.

Ballmer also said that Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 is now "the most popular modern browser running on Windows 7 PCs in the US" and that it is running on 17% of Windows 7 PCs worldwide.

He hinted at a forthcoming Windows 8, expected late next year, which he said would be "a true reimagining of Windows PCs and the dawning of Windows slates."

Last month, Microsoft demonstrated a preliminary version of Windows 8, which the company said would run both desktop and tablet computers.

The company is now strongly calling on consumers and businesses to move beyond Windows XP.

"It's time to move from good enough to something much better," wrote Microsoft's senior community manager Stephen Rose in a blog posting, adding that support for Windows XP will end in April 2014.

"Bottom line, PCs running Windows XP will be vulnerable to security threats", he noted, "because it will no longer receive security patches and hotfixes, as presently it does."

Ballmer admitted the company's poor performance in the smartphone market, but said he expected to see progress in the future.

"We've gone from very small [market share] to very small, but it's been a heck of a year," he said.

However, "you're going to see a lot of progress in that market competitively as we move forward" he said, referring to Microsoft's partnership with Nokia to build Windows Phone devices.

Ballmer declined to disclose specific sales figures for Windows Phone, saying only that the company had sold "millions" of phones. 

Ballmer compared Microsoft's market share of 400 million Windows 7 licenses to the 20 million Apple Mac OSX licenses.

"Now, 20 is too much, but 400, last time I checked, is a lot more than 20," he said. 

He also announced continued strong growth in Microsoft Office 2010 licenses, saying the company has now sold 100 million licenses.

In what Ballmer referred to as a "report card", or a "state of the state", he gave the conference a general overview of Microsoft's business.

"If you look at Microsoft, and people like to say we've got a lot of products. In some sense, I think that's a fair characterization. But in some senses, we're relatively simple," he said.

"We're involved in creating either the platforms or the hardware for three major devices: Small screens, big screens, and middle-sized screens. Sometimes called phones, PCs, and TVs, sometimes we'll talk about the PC and the slate as separate devices, but we're trying to drive forward the platform for intelligent devices."

"At the same time, we're investing in core scenarios on the back end, on the server and service side that becomes applications and tools that you can use to complete the experience -- Bing, Office, our server and Azure platform, and of course Microsoft Dynamics."

Microsoft is set to announce its full-year results on July 21.


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