Ina Fried

Recent Posts by Ina Fried

Selling 40 Million Windows 8 Copies Good for Microsoft, but It’s Not the Only Metric That Matters

Microsoft was bound to sell a lot of copies of Windows 8 — no matter how good or bad the software was.

The latest version of Windows comes installed on every new PC, and there are a decent number of enthusiasts willing to upgrade their machines when a new version comes out. Still, Microsoft’s announcement Tuesday that it has sold 40 million copies in a month is pretty good. Think how long it takes anyone else to achieve those kind of numbers for a new version of software.

Microsoft also says that upgrade sales of Windows 8 are higher than with Windows 7 in the month since launch (though Microsoft is selling the upgrade for far less than it has charged in the past).

The 40 million figure is most important when it comes to changing one of the areas where Windows 8 remains weak. That is on the app front. The Windows 8 store opened with just a few thousand apps, and lots of big-name programs are still missing, including Facebook, Twitter, Quicken and iTunes, to name just a few.

It’s for that crowd that the 40 million number is most important. Developers are generally rational folks. They have limited time, and tend to focus their energy where the eyeballs and dollars are.

A large number of Windows 8 licenses will certainly help Microsoft’s case that it can attract both of those things. Microsoft says there are already some developers who have made more than $25,000 on their Windows 8 apps. That number is significant because Microsoft gives developers an 80 percent cut on all app sales over that figure, as compared to the industry-standard 70 percent.

Traditionally, Windows developers are slow to embrace a new version, focusing most of their energy on ensuring that their apps won’t crash, and only over time taking advantage of new features. Only years later, if at all, do Windows developers typically write an app that requires a new version of Windows.

But with Windows 8, the calculus has changed. Windows 8 has a store that only runs a new kind of app. Developers who want their programs front and center on new PCs have to write a new-style Windows app.

Older programs will run, but only in a “desktop” mode that is ill suited to touch and tablets. Plus, those kinds of programs won’t run at all on Windows RT machines like Microsoft’s current Surface tablet.

The question is how well Microsoft will do at convincing Windows developers to shift their mindset, as well as the company’s level of success in grabbing attention from a new generation of mobile app developers who focus most of their time on iOS and Android.

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