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Reller Touts Windows 8 Upgrade Success at Financial Analyst Event

The new head of the Windows business at Microsoft explained Windows 8 to financial analysts today, dropping a few stats along the way.

Tami Reller, Microsoft's chief marketing officer and chief financial officer for Windows, took the stage and fielded questions at the Credit Suisse Annual Technology Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. Reller now heads Windows business management after Steven Sinofsky stepped down. She said that Microsoft has sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses as of today.

Windows 8, with its new touch-based interface, was first launched on October 26. At its Build developer event in late October, Microsoft indicated that individuals had purchased four million Windows 8 upgrades in three days' time. However, Windows 8 sales were broadly eclipsed by Apple iPad sales during this month's Black Friday sales, according to an estimate by investment banking company Piper Jaffray. An IBM study of Black Friday sales had a similar finding, with 88.3 percent of all smartphone and tablet sales associated with iPads.

The Windows 8 upgrade momentum is outpacing that of Windows 7, according to Reller. She added that Microsoft was just at the beginning of its journey with Windows 8, which represented a generational shift for the company. Unlike Windows 7, Windows 8 was built for two platforms, ARM and x86. People are going to need a little time to learn Windows 8, she admitted, but user stats are showing that people "get" the new operating system.

Since Windows 8's launch, there have been more than 1.5 million impressions of people using the start screen as their home base, she said. More than 85 percent of users have accessed the desktop user interface. Over 90 percent of customers are using the Charms on the very first day. Half of users visit the Windows Store on the very first day of use, according to Microsoft's stats.

Since the launch of Microsoft's Windows Store, the number of apps in the store has doubled, Reller said. She added that several Windows 8 apps have achieved 1 million downloads and that a significant number of apps have passed the $25,000 mark, which means that the developer of the app gets to keep 80 percent of the revenue for the life of the app. Reller didn't provide a count for the number of apps in the Windows Store, but Forrester Research estimated earlier this month that Microsoft had less than 10,000 apps.

Reller described Windows 8 as "one of the most tested releases in our history." The OS has undergone more than 1.2 billion hours of testing across 190 countries, she said. At launch, there were 1,000 PCs and tablets certified on Windows 8. Now, Reller said, there are 1,500 PCs and tablets certified on the new OS.

While Microsoft has already released its own Windows RT ARM-based Surface device on October 26, a second Windows 8 Pro x86-based Surface device is yet to come. Reller revealed during the Credit Suisse talk that the new Windows 8 Pro x86 Surface devices can be expected to arrive on the market sometime in January.

The moderator at the event asked about the lack of touch-based Windows 8 devices currently on the market. Reller said that OEM partners were doing great work, with new devices expected to arrive in December, but that some vendors will take longer to roll out their Windows 8 products. She explained Microsoft's role in getting into the hardware business as good for the overall ecosystem. As Windows 8 devices gain success, it helps the whole of Windows, she said.

Reller's Credit Suisse talk is available on demand at Microsoft's investor relations page here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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