Ballmer: Windows 8 To Have '500 Million' Users by End of 2013
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, predicted on Tuesday that 500 million users will have Windows 8 devices by the end of next year, according to a press account.
That lofty forecast came in a speech given at the Seoul Digital Forum, as reported by France-based newswire AFP RelaxNews.
"It's really, in some senses, a dawning of the rebirth of MS Windows....It's certainly the most important piece of work we've done," Ballmer is reported to have told attendees.
Ballmer characterized Windows 8 as the "deepest, broadest and most impactful" version of Windows in Microsoft's history. Indeed, Windows 8, with its Metro-style interface that will run on both tablets and PCs, is a substantial departure for Microsoft's OS.
During the same talk, Ballmer estimated 350 million Windows 7-based devices will ship this year, AFP reported. Microsoft has already shipped 525 million copies of Windows 7 as of January, the last time the company released sales figures for its current client OS.
Ballmer's remarks come as Microsoft is expected to issue the "release preview" of Windows 8 next month.
It remains to be seen whether Windows 8 can in fact come close to that "500 million" figure, given the steep competition from Apple, which has sold 67 million iPads since the debut of its tablet two years ago.
A Microsoft spokeswoman on the Windows team was unable to confirm AFP's report but said she believed what Ballmer meant was that with 525 million Windows 7 PCs now in use, they can all be upgraded to Windows 8 when it ships. According to various published reports, Windows 8 will be available in November.
Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.