Microsoft CEO: 'Tens of millions' of corporate Windows 8 licenses sold

Analysts skeptical of rapid Windows 8 uptake by enterprises

Just a week after its release, the Windows 8 operating system (OS) is gaining momentum among corporate customers, with "tens of millions" of enterprise licenses signed so far, according to Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer.

Ballmer told app developers at Build 2012 this week, "the level of enthusiasm we've seen is exciting… I think we are really resonating across the board with the work we are bringing to market," according to a report by All Things D.

In the consumer market, Microsoft has sold four million Windows 8 upgrades, Ballmer added.

Ballmer encouraged developers to come up with apps for the Windows 8 OS, as well as the Windows Phone 8 OS, which is based on Windows 8 code.

The CEO's optimism about Windows 8 contrasts with more sober analysis about the likelihood of enterprises adopting the operating system over the next few years. Gartner, for example, is predicting that 90 percent of companies will bypass broad deployment of Windows 8 through at least 2014.

"However good the prospects look for Windows 8 in the consumer market or for tablets, there are no compelling business imperatives to drive legacy devices in business towards Windows 8," Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president and global head of research at Gartner, told an audience at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo last week.

Forrester Research Analyst Frank Gillett predicts similar slow adoption by consumers and companies. "Windows 8 is a make or break product launch for Microsoft. Windows will endure a slow start as traditional PC users delay upgrades, while those eager for Windows tablets jump in," Gillett wrote in a blog.

"After a slow start in 2013, Windows 8 will take hold in 2014, keeping Microsoft relevant and the master of the PC market, but simply a contender in tablets, and a distant third in smartphones," Gillett added.

"Microsoft has long dominated PC units, with something more than 95 percent sales. The incremental gains of Apple's Mac products over the last five years haven't really changed that reality. But the tremendous growth of smartphones, and then tablets, has. If you combine all the unit sales of personal devices, Microsoft's share of units has shrunk drastically to about 30 percent in 2012," he concluded.

While Ballmer is optimistic about Windows 8 adoption, others are not. Microsoft is betting that Windows 8 will enable it to regain some of the lost market share identified by Gillett. A key to that prediction coming true is widespread adoption of the operating systems by enterprises in the near term, rather than in 2014 or even later.

For more:
- check out the All Things D article
- read Gillett's blog

Related articles:
Gartner predicts slow update in Windows 8 enterprise use
Martin: I'm a believer in Windows 8