Microsoft says it has sold 100 million Windows 8 licenses since the launch of the new operating system last fall, as the company looks ahead to a new wave of devices and a major “Windows Blue” software update that aims to ease the transition to Windows 8.

Tami Reller, Microsoft Windows marketing and finance chief.

The Windows 8 sales milestone, announced by the company tonight, is not far off the record-setting pace established by Windows 7. However, it was more common in the past for new operating systems to significantly outpace their predecessors as the computer market expanded.

“I feel very good about that number, but not good enough,” said Tami Reller, the Microsoft vice president in charge of marketing and finance for the Windows business, in an interview with GeekWire. The number would be higher, she acknowledged, if the company and its partners had been able to get a stronger array of touch-screen notebooks and tablets on the market sooner.

Microsoft is seeking to regroup after an underwhelming launch for Windows 8. PC shipments continue to decline despite the release of the new operating system, while sales of the iPad and other tablets keep climbing.

Reller sought to dispel any notion that Microsoft would reduce its commitment to Windows RT, the version of the operating system for power-efficient ARM processors. A recent report by IDC said Microsoft and its partners were creating confusion with the alternative version of the OS, which doesn’t run traditional Windows applications.

“We are very committed to the ARM platform,” she said. “We certainly know that’s a question in the marketplace. We want to leave no doubt about our commitment to ARM.”

The assortment of Windows 8 tablets and touch-screen notebooks is “still too low, but it’s visibly ramping,” Reller said. The company expects a stronger lineup in time for the back-to-school PC buying season, and anticipates hitting “a visible tipping point” by the holidays.

A report by IDC last month said that PC shipments declined in the first quarter by 14 percent, the biggest drop on record. However, Reller noted that analysts count the number of units put into the sales pipeline (known as “sell-in”) not those purchased by end users (known as “sell-through”). That “sell-through” has been more consistent, reflecting actual demand, she said.

Awareness of Windows 8 remains high, Reller said. Customer satisfaction on touch-based Windows 8 machines is strong, according to Microsoft’s research, and satisfaction on non-touch machines is “stronger than you would believe by just reading the press,” she said.

On the topic of Windows 8 apps, Microsoft now has six times as many apps in the Windows Store as it did at launch, Reller said. The company isn’t giving numbers, but the site WinAppUpdate, maintained by analyst Wes Miller, reported at the time of the launch that the Windows Store had about 9,000 apps. The site Metro Store Scanner now cites around 67,000 Windows 8 apps.

Microsoft says more than 250 million Windows 8 apps have been downloaded from the store since launch.

windows8[Related: Microsoft’s hits and misses: Insights from a prolific maker of Windows 8 apps]

Windows Blue, a major update to Windows 8, is expected to come on a wider variety of Windows 8 touch-based devices, including tablets with smaller screens. Microsoft recently loosened its restrictions on PC makers to help develop tablets that can compete more effectively with devices such as the 7-inch Kindle Fire and 7.9-inch iPad mini.

“We think there’s real demand in the small tablet category,” Reller said.

[RelatedAcer’s leaked Windows 8 tablet aims to rival iPad mini at 8.1 inches, $380]

Windows Blue also will address customer “feedback,” a.k.a. complaints. Reller declined to disclose specific plans for the update. However, according to earlier reports, the company has been working to bring back a version of the Start button to the traditional Windows desktop, and allow users to boot directly to the desktop, bypassing the Start screen that was introduced with Windows 8. Those are two of the changes that can make Windows 8 a significant adjustment for new users.

Reller said, “There’s a number of pieces of customer feedback that will help all customers on Windows 8, and there are a number of features that will help more traditional users — enthusiasts, business customers, non-touch users.”

The 100 million license number for Windows 8 includes new Windows PCs and upgrades on existing Windows machines. It does not include licenses sold through volume licensing deals with Microsoft’s large business customers.

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  • Guest

    Hm, 100 million licenses sold and yet I don’t see it anywhere in the wild. And I live in Seattle. Where are all those dancing office clerks and angry schoolgirls hiding?

    • Lprd2007

      Um, are you talking about Surface? I don’t think many people can afford a $1000 tablet these days.

      But if you are referring to Windows 8, I know many people who is using it right now, including a lot of my friends.

      • Derek Schlicker

        If people are going to drop ~$1000 on a tablet, its going to be an iPad. That’ll get you a 128 GB LTE 4th gen iPad, which is top of the line. And they don’t need to get a top of the line iPad for a great experience.

        The price points of the Surface are really screwed up. Its competing with laptops on price but with reduced functionality. If it was at $500 with these specs, you might actually see them in the wild.

        • Lprd2007

          What the **** are you talking about?? Reduced functionality? The $899 Surface Pro is a full-blown computer in tablet form factor. I can play Skyrim and Fallout New Vegas on that beast. Not to mention all the productivity apps I can run on it like Office, 3ds Max, Visual Studio or Unity. The iPad is a useless toy compared to this.

        • Jason Farris

          Nope. iPad is a nice consumer device, but it’s infotainment at best. If you’re computing interests are casual, iPad is a great product. But it’s not going to run the software that a Surface (or any WP8 device) can.

          So if you’re ONLY into casual computing, iPad. If you want casual computing AND serious computing, Surface.

          I don’t know who Android tablets appeal to exactly, it’s a bit of a mess, but you know, to each their own.

          • Nope

            On a tablet I am generally only into casual computing. Internet, email, some apps to look stuff up or change a few things (i.e. banking). That solves 99% of the things I need to do when I don’t have a full computer around. I can have that for under $200 on an Android tablet vs $1000 for running the occasional legacy software on an overheating PC-tablet with terrible battery life. Moreover, I would never think to program or photoshop on a crappy 10″ screen anyway.

          • Jason Farris

            1920×1080 isn’t crappy and of course it connects to multiple monitors. I’m also happy to report I use it all day everyday and there is no overheating.

          • Nope

            10 inches is crappy! You really want to compare a Surface to a full fledged workstation? Try writing multi-threaded programs on that thing and run 4 threads on the CPU at 100% for a while. Watching a blinking cursor in Office doesn’t count. The Surface is for casual computing and some occasional launch of legacy software, that’s all. No serious developer or graphics design artist would use it as a main device. Well, the artist may use it as a “wacom” graphics tablet. And again, it’s $1000(!), as much as a Nexus 7, a laptop, and an iPad combined.

          • Jason Farris

            Which tablet has a screen bigger than 10″? Which tablet would outperform a Surface with 4 threads at 100%? What makes you think this i5 processor is less capable for a graphic artist over the one in a Mac, MacBook or PC desktop? I can’t even tell what point your trying to make except that you hate Microsoft no matter what.

          • Nope

            Which part of ‘Running 3D modeling or Visual Studio on a 10″ screen is moronic’ don’t you guys get?

          • Lprd2007

            WHAT THE HELL?? The Surface’s got an Ivy Bridge Intel i5 processor you retard. It runs absolutely anything you throw at it. 2 cores @ 2.6 Ghz each are more than able to run 4 threads. As I said earlier, it runs workstation-caliber software without a hiccup.
            Try trolling harder.

          • Jason Farris

            4 cores actually.

          • Nope

            Insult is always the last resort in your MS shill manual, isn’t it?

            Try running the CPU at 100% (all cores and hyper-threads) for say 20-30 minutes straight and see how the form factor will impact the device.

          • Lprd2007

            Yes, I’m a paid shill/astroturfer/etc.
            I have yet to come across a sofware that uses 100% of the processor. The Intel graphics card (HD 4000) is usually the bottleneck, but the CPU is absolutely insane. I have it underclocked at ~50% (max CPU state) and I get 6+ hours battery life, without any noticeable performance decrease.

          • Chris

            I’m sorry, but you really have no idea what you’re talking about.

          • Derek Schlicker

            Its funny, I go into a meeting at work and in a room of 30 people, 1 guy has a Surface and everyone else is on iPad.

            And the 1 Surface guy is a former MS employee and fanboy.

            You missed my point that the Surface is competing against laptops which can deliver much heavier lifting power at about the same cost. It doesn’t matter if you think the Ipad is a light weight device or not (and I disagree with you that its a casual user device given I use mine every day at work).

            Lastly, you can talk up how great the Surface is as much as you want, but with 1.8% marketshare the market clearly disagrees with you.

          • Hallelujah

            We all go to meetings and have that same experience. Actually, I have yet to see the Surface somewhere in the wild. Or a laptop with Windows 8 on it for that matter. Denial is definitely a river in Redmond.

          • Lprd2007

            I totally agree with you. The iPad is an awesome device for computer illiterate folks. I mean, you got your email, your browsing and your Angry Birds. Just 99% of all the stuff you do on your computer.
            As you said, there is a minority like the guy in your meeting or me who does real work on the go, that’s what the Surface Pro is for.

          • Derek Schlicker

            Don’t forget document creation via Pages, document review via iAnnotate PDF, presentation creation via Keynote, email, note taking (evernote etc), remote desktop (splashtop), collaborating (GoToMeeting), etc.

            I really hate the stereotype that iPad users (or just Apple fans) = computer illiterate. The windows experience is definitely not as compelling as it once was. And as a financial/data analyst, I am a power user with the windows experience and it has let me down time and again.

            I have used a Surface in serious data analysis via excel as a test. It seriously does not have the juice to do serious crunching. If you need to do that on the go, stick with a laptop if you must be mobile.

          • Jason Farris

            I’m not sure comparing market share of a product that’s been out 10 weeks with a product that’s been out for many years would be considered intellectually honest.

            My experience with the Surface is very good. I have yet to run into anything that would make me believe it’s not a “full service” device; and I’m running a lot of “workstation” software on it, taxing it everyday. It does not overheat. It does not falter in any way, and I would not exchange it for a laptop or ultra book if offered. Heck, I have a laptop that’s twice as powerful, but who wants to lug that around?

            Everyone in our office had iPads already before the Surface launched. Those iPads just sat on people’s desks, not that weren’t capable as you point out above, but that it takes a lot of disparate “apps” to achieve what is built into the MS ecosystem on day one you unbox it. Office365, SkyDrive, true ubiquitous login, desktop sync, converged contacts and social networks, full handwriting, full Win8 desktop… it makes sense why. Everyone uses their Surface all day every day because it’s everything their desktop is and more. No one told anyone they couldn’t use the iPad at work, it just wasn’t happening… unless someone’s kids were visiting. That thing runs Finding Nemo like a champ.

            The iPad is a very personal device, best for goofing around, OK for work. Surface is a professional device, best for work, OK for goofing around. Both are about $100 more than they should be for what you get.

            It’s not a bad thing for both Surface and iPad to both be great at what they do.

      • Guest

        Too bad OEMs are still whining. That 100m units apparently hasn’t done any good for them

        • Jason Farris

          OEMs deserve what they get. They were unprepared for launch and dragged their feet for the three years prior. The ones who come up with compelling form factors at compelling price points will do fine. The ones who flood their channel with last-gen hardware won’t.

          • YeahRight

            Yeah, that’s why Samsung pulled the plug on certain devices, because they were unprepared and dragged their feet. PLLEASE! The only one with their pants down and dragging their feet is and has always been Microsoft.

          • Jason Farris

            I owned a Samsung W7 tablet for a short time. Immediately upgraded it to W8 because W7 on a touch device is a nightmare. The Samsung wasn’t as good as the Surface, but I’d try them again, Samsung’s a good company and I have no doubt they have some sweet designs coming down the pipe for Windows8.

          • Lprd2007

            Stop. You are making way too much sense.

          • Nope

            “Just wait for …. Windows Phone 7, uhm ….Mango, Windows Phone 8, uhm …. Windows 8, …. Surface …. Surface Pro ….. Windows Blue … a massive spectrum of new form factors …. THEN WE’LL SHOW THE WORLD AND OWN THE MARKET!!”

            We’ve heard that triumph around the corner story so many times. It’s starting to get sad.

        • Derek Schlicker

          100M? Or maybe the 900k that were shipped last quarter? Even Balmer has said sales have only been modest. Keep smoking your MSFT crack if it makes you feel better.

  • Robyn B.

    We just spent alot of money on our new laptop and the sysetem started flipping out and we had to replace our laptop…luckly we had a warrenty on the laptop. Windows 8 has not been very satisfactory, it constantly is causeing me prolems right in the middle of tests and other activites. Honestly I think that Windows 8 has ruined the good name of Microsoft.

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