Microsoft says that 4 million users upgraded to Windows 8 over the weekend after its release, which CNET says was well below Microsoft's internal projections and have been described inside the company as disappointing.
On November 27, 2012, Microsoft announced that it has sold 40 million licenses of Windows 8 in the first month, surpassing the pace of Windows 7.
However, according to research firm NPD, sales of devices running Windows in the United States have declined 21 percent compared to the same time period in 2011. As the holiday shopping season wrapped up, Windows 8 sales continued to lag, even as Apple reported brisk sales. The market research firm IDC reported an overall drop in PC sales for the quarter, and said the drop may have been partly due to consumer reluctance to embrace the new features of the OS and poor support from OEM for these features. This capped the first year of declining PC sales to the Asia Pacific region, as consumers bought more mobile devices than Windows PCs.
Windows 8 surpassed Windows Vista in market share with a 5.1% usage rate according to numbers posted in July 2013 by Net Applications, with usage on a steady upward trajectory. However, intake of Windows 8 still lags behind that of Windows Vista and Windows 7 at the same point in their release cycles. Windows 8's tablet market share has also been growing steadily, with 7.4% of tablets running Windows in Q1 2013 according to Strategy Analytics, up from nothing just a year before. However, this was still well below Android and iOS, which posted 43.4% and 48.2% market share respectively, although both operating systems have been on the market much longer than Windows 8.
In March 2013, Microsoft also amended its certification requirements to allow tablets to use the 1024x768 resolution as a minimum; this change is expected to allow the production of certified Windows 8 tablets in smaller form factors—a market which is currently dominated by Android-based tablets. Despite the reaction of industry experts, Microsoft reported that they had sold 100 million licenses in the first six months. This matched sales of Windows 7 over a similar period. Many of these "sales" were shipments to channel warehouses which now need to be sold in order to make way for new shipments.
Windows 8.1 (codenamed "Blue"), the first major update to Windows 8 and RT, was officially announced by Microsoft on May 14, 2013. Following a presentation devoted to the update at Build Conference 2013, a public beta version of the update was released on June 26, 2013. Windows 8.1 was released to OEM hardware partners on August 27, 2013. The OS was released publicly as a free download through Windows Store on October 17, 2013. Volume license customers and subscribers to MSDN Plus and TechNet Plus were initially unable to obtain the RTM version upon its release. As per a spokesman, the change in policy was to allow Microsoft to work with OEMs "to ensure a quality experience at general availability." However, after criticism, Microsoft reversed its decision and released the RTM build on MSDN and TechNet on September 9, 2013.
Unlike previous Windows service packs, Windows 8.1 can only be obtained as a free update through Windows Store by users of retail or OEM versions of Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, or Windows RT. It can be downloaded individually on every PC, and ISO images are not readily available to consumers (however, a workaround was soon discovered which involves using the Windows 8 and 8.1 Setup programs to download the installation files and generate installation media from them). By contrast, users of Windows 8 Enterprise, volume licenses, or MSDN and TechNet are required to obtain 8.1 as a new ISO image from their respective service, and install it through the traditional Windows installation process. In any case, ISO versions of Windows 8.1 do not accept Windows 8 product keys–however, it is technically possible in certain scenarios to activate Windows 8.1 with a Windows 8 key once it is installed
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